Green Fools is a local Calgary charity that has been working in the area for over 30 years. We reached out to Dean Bareham, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, to see how such a long-lasting charity operates. It seems organization is key, as well as positivity and loving what you do.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Green Fools develops, creates, teaches, and promotes the arts of mask, puppetry, circus, clown, and physical theatre. We create socially empowering theatre creations, we offer workshops to schools and community organizations, and we provide free Social Circus outreach programs to at-risk, indigenous, new immigrant, and refugee youth. In 2021 we also opened a circus school where we teach weekly circus and aerial classes for ages 3 and up and offer on going social circus classes to youth at risk!
What problem does it aim to solve?
We aim to help youth with physical and mental well being though physical theatre and circus skills. We help participants build self-esteem, trust, and circus skills in a non-competitive, self motivating environment. We promote inclusiveness, diversity, respect, and healthy risk taking from significant adult mentors.
When did you start/join it?
I am the co-founder and artistic director and I’ve been doing this since our inception in 1991, over 30 years.
What made you want to get involved?
I wanted to create a safe space and studio for artists and students interested in physical theatre, puppets, and clown. The Green Fools have always been an incubator of physical theatre and emerging artists in Calgary, and we have provided a venue for shows and creation. I am proud of the tens of thousands of youth who have been impacted by our social circus camps for vulnerable youth.
What was the situation like when you started?
There was no other theatre company that focused on physical theatre or circus skills in Calgary in 1991 when we started. No one had even heard of Social Circus, at that time, it was something we had to develop over years. Although we did a lot of teaching, mostly, we did it remotely in schools and communities. (Social circus is a global movement that uses circus to help kids develop confidence and social skills)
How has it changed since?
Now we have a circus school, we offer numerous classes in physical theatre and circus for kids and adults, and we have offered free social circus programs to thousands of youth across western Canada. We have numerous social service partners that provide vulnerable youth for our free social circus programs, and we continue to make socially impactful and environmental theatre shows that tour nationally and internationally.
What more needs to be done?
We are always looking for partners and sponsors to support our programs so that we can provide more workshops to at-risk youth. We could use more operational funding to help cover the costs of the teachers, space, and equipment, and we need a bigger space for our circus school so we can have a bigger impact on our community. We are also looking to develop more programs for youth and adults with disabilities.
How can our readers help
They can make a donation in exchange for a charitable tax receipt. We are particularly looking to expand our corporate donations and sponsorships. They can also tell people about our circus school and/or sign up for a class. And if anyone knows of an organization or foundation that supports programs for youth that empower youth to believe in themselves, please send a contact our way. And if anyone knows of, or is a family in need, please send them our way so we can try and get them into some of our free programs.
Do you have any events coming up?
We are currently taking registrations for our winter classes which start in January. We are offering 2 free social circus classes, and we have a show in February with Story Music and May with Calgary Promusica Society, we are in the process of creating a television show for kids about the conservation of bees, we have a physical theatre and puppet intensive in June of 2023, we are building more puppets for the Calgary Zoo, and directing their daily performances for their Summer debut.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Kids Up Front is the charity that I love. They provide youth for our social circus programs and provide amazing opportunities to kids and families of at-risk youth. They are awesome!