Donor Profile: Sylvia Soyka
How long have you been a Soulpepper Supporter?
I have been supporting Soulpepper almost 15 years. I have always been an avid theatre-goer and even considered at one point making a career of it when I was at university. The abundance of English-language theatre was definitely one of the bonuses for me when I moved to Toronto from Montreal.
What is you first memory of Soulpepper?
I saw Soulpepper’s first production at Harbourfront at what was then the du Maurier Theatre on a balmy summer’s evening. It was Schiller’s Don Carlos with Brent Carver, Nancy Palk, Diego Matamoros and other members of the Soulpepper company. I remember standing at the railing of the theatre’s wraparound balcony during intermission, in a warm breeze, thinking to myself that I had arrived, that I was living in a city where they were able to put on Schiller at a mainstream venue – in the summer! It was nothing short of thrilling for me.
What inspired you to support us?
Support for the theatre is a natural extension of my love for it. Having decided to pursue a different career, I feel it is the least I can do – for the theatre, for myself, for my son (and other young people) and for the Toronto community in general. Philanthropy is always a way to give back a little, but it is also a way to participate in what can be a very exciting ride, certainly at Soulpepper!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy?
Albert Schultz, partnering with Leslie Lester, is a fearless and indefatigable leader of a talented, hard-working, thoughtful and very enthusiastic group of actors and theatre artists. Together they dare to dream: they inspire each other to ever-greater ambitions and successes. Most importantly, this is a company very much focused on building the next generation to ensure the survival, continuation and growth of its creative initiatives. Art in general, but theatre perhaps in particular, is a window on our own culture, diversified as it is here in Toronto, and those of others. In its best iteration, it can be, not only a mirror, but an active agent for the collaborative shaping of our society.
How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years?
I see the company maturing and realizing much of the potential it is showing today, extending its reach in any number of directions. It has already expanded its original mission and mandate to include exciting new ventures such as commissioning new work, shepherding original plays into new media and new geographies and other innovations and initiatives. I believe there is so much creativity in this company that it will move down whatever roads the traffic will bear!