At a time when it’s so important to support businesses suffering from a devastating decline in tourism, Shaw Guild members have been shopping locally.
Volunteers who are anxious to give back to their community, and have been unable to help the festival, are finding other ways to contribute. In addition to being welcoming ambassadors for the town, they initiated a project called LOT O’ NOTL, ordering items from local businesses to fill boxes of curated delicacies and home products, as part of the Shaw Guild’s program to support Queen Street merchants, says guild communications chair Cheryl Morris.
The 52 boxes, at $50 each, were assembled and delivered by a team of guild volunteers, led by Emily Lukasik, a Shaw Company actor. “Emily had the idea, and both Tims (artistic director Tim Carroll, and Tim Jennings, CEO for the Shaw Festival) were totally on board. They suggested she get in touch with Laurie Harley (Shaw Guild president) and that’s how it started. And we were available to help.”
Lukasik had heard of a similar program being done in a Toronto neighbourhood earlier this year, and thought it would be great for the Shaw and the Guild to run the program in support of Queen Street merchants.
The team of Harley, Brenda Weafer, Gail Kendall, Morris and Lukasik spent several hours one day scouting out and shopping for items for the boxes.
Team members found it was difficult to make the final choices with so many great shops to choose from, said Morris.
They will gather soon to discuss the possibility of putting together a holiday-themed package later in the year, and perhaps extend the offer to local residents who are not Guild members, she added.
Guild members are also hoping to get back to volunteering for the Shaw. With funding for outdoor performances announced last week, there could be a role for volunteers, or the Shaw may want to use their employees. “We don’t know what they have planned. We’d like to get back to the Shaw, but it will depend on so many other factors. Everything is up in the air.”