The key component to the holiday season is the spirit of giving. It was that spirit that started Sean Quigley thinking about what could be done to offer London something of a festive celebration.
The executive director of Emerging Leaders, Quigley was thinking recently that London has been through a tough year in 2014 and was probably deserving of a holiday gift.
That gift will be given in the form of the Pop-up Holiday Celebration, which will take place Monday, Dec. 15, running from 6-8 p.m. The price of admission to the event is either a donation of non-perishable items for the London Food Bank or gently used clothing to be given out to children in need.
The festivities will include musicians, singers, actors and high-profile community leaders reading Christmas poems and stories and joining in on musical entertainment in spaces throughout the Grand.
Recently, Quigley called up the staff at the Grand Theatre to see if they would be interested in helping present that gift to the community. Quigley estimates it took about “three seconds” for the theatre to come on board.
“We had a quick meeting, things were moving along, and the next thing I know Susan has this whole team together talking about it,” Quigley said. “I talked to a bunch of musicians, some from the orchestra, some from other places, they all want to be involved.”
Susan, in this case, is Susan Ferley, the Grand’s artistic director.
When presented with Quigley’s idea, Ferley said she immediately thought it was a great idea. After all, everyone needs a little play time during the holiday season.
Ferley said the Grand staff is good at organizing events, but this party will happen “a little bit more organic” than other events.
The volunteer readers at the Pop-up includes politicians, some theatrical artists have stepped forward, some community leaders.
“It's the time of year when coming together as a community is a wonderful thing,” Ferley said. “It has been a bit rocky at times, but I think we as a theatre take opportunities to bring people together, to inspire, to encourage creativity.”
In laying out the evening’s festivities, Ferley said street carolers outside the Grand will meet people when they arrive. From there, the public will enter the theatre and drop off their donation of choice and be entertained by the live music taking place in the lobbies around the Grand.
There will be places within the space people can gather for readings of different stories, whether it's down in the McManus Studio or up in the Grand’s balcony. The Children’s Museum will have some activities, just like they have been doing with certain performances of Shrek.
“People can pop in and hear a story or poem,” Ferley said. “There will be 10 or 15 minutes, the little readings, and they can head off to another area for another story or music or whatever. It is really quite lovely.”
Ferley describes the Pop-up Holiday Celebration as a “wonderful opportunity” to have community leaders step forward, “put on their creative hats” and have a good time.
Both Ferley and Quigley said the response to the Pop-up Celebration has been incredibly supportive. However, that doesn’t mean Quigley was particularly surprised by that generosity.
“London is filled with a deep spirit of generosity. Again and again, London steps up in a myriad of ways and shows how much it cares,” Quigley said. “We are a city with the most volunteers of any municipality in Canada. So I wasn’t surprised by the reaction, I was delighted to have that reinforced yet again.
For more information, visit www.emergingleaders.ca where the free tickets are available to be printed off after clicking on the Pop-up Holiday Event.