Gander Youth Arts Festival

The Gander Youth Arts Festival is an groundbreaking arts education initiative established by Beyond The Overpass Theatre Company, Inc. designed to provide young artists, musicians, and theatre makers the opportunity to learn, experiment, and grow in a safe and nurturing environment.  Through mentorship by industry professionals, workshops and master classes, and an intensive rehearsal and performance program, this initiative will allow young artists to engage with the arts in a unique and powerful way.

The annual performing arts festival will provide professional training and performance opportunities to young artists between the ages of 14 and 24.  It will be the first youth performing arts festival established in this province, and one of the few operating in the country.  While performances will be a key component of the annual activity, the training courses offered to students, and the multi-disciplinary approach utilized, will be what separates this festival from any other in Newfoundland.

The festival will also bridge the space that exists between artists and audience by looking for new ways to bring the creative process into our community.  We will be looking to bring our art to the people, creating a connection that we believe can revitalize and enliven our entire community, while providing our young artists with an intimacy and immediacy that will help shape and define their practice.

Our Mission

To empower our youth through the study and practice of the mediums and elements of the performing arts.

To establish and nurture a community of young artists, equipped to imagine and shape the future of the arts in this province.

To preserve, celebrate, develop and advance our community identity.

To establish Gander as a vibrant, cultural hub for arts and culture in Newfoundland and Labrador, while placing a spotlight on our provinces most valuable resource, our youth.

GYAF Objectives

Our program will –

Challenge our artists.  To uncover our true potential, it is necessary to discovery our boundaries, and then work to expand them.  The intensive 7-week program will be designed to provide the young artists involved with a means to test themselves and foster meaningful opportunities for sustained growth.

Inspire authenticity.  The program will strive to uncover truth through art, by developing and encouraging the unique creative impulses found in every artist.

Foster autonomy within a creative, collaborative environment.  We aim to discover and support the unique voice of every artist by creating an ensemble of individuals.  Every artist has a part to play, and that part is only fully realized through an honest connection with others.

Offer a safe, inclusive environment for all our artists.

Continually evolve.  We will actively look for ways to advance the knowledge base and training opportunities for our young artists and for the professionals who administer our programs.  Guest artists and instructors will play a role in that development.  A youth advisory board, composed of young artists, will also be established and tasked with developing a program that is always relevant and alive.

Community Impact

We believe the establishment of this new festival will directly impact the cultural, social and economic life of our community.  The program will provide unique growth and development opportunities to our youth, but this new activity will also:

  • preserve our local heritage and history, while strengthening our unique cultural identity
  • strengthen our community character and further develop our sense of place
  • increase community engagement and participation
  • boost economic vitality

As a part of our new festival activity, developing stories, music and theatrical productions that reflect the distinct history and heritage of Gander and the central region will be a key component of our long-term plan.  Each season we will aim to add at least one new production that incorporates our local history and/or uses the town and region as the setting for its action.  We will also look to bring the arts into the community, staging events throughout town as we look to enhance, engage, and excite the entire region.

Gander may not possess the long history and well defined ‘cultural product’ that many of the traditional Newfoundland destinations are know for, but our town has a history that is entirely unique and worthy of further exploration and development; a virtually untapped cultural resources for this province. Established to help change the tide of World War II, Gander started with a unique international flavour as men and women from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and beyond all travelled to the “middle of nowhere” and contributed to the establishment of a community unlike any other in this province.  We may not be the ‘traditional’ island town, the coastal village that many imagine when they think of this place, but we have a history that is unlike any other in Newfoundland & Labrador, an origin story that is all our own. We have a story that deserves to be told, and we have a story that is continuing to develop. The arts provide a perfect way to preserve and share that story. Adding our youth to this mix, under the guidance of industry professionals, makes for an undeniably compelling partnership.

Our culture evolving with our community

The arts and culture sector is continually developing, continually evolving.  Our community is doing the same.  In the future, as the map of this province changes, Gander will experience greater growth and development, and the significance of this place on a cultural level will become even more important.  The culture of a place is directly connected to the heart of that place, and as we grow it is essential we remember that.  Without caring for and developing our culture we risk becoming just another disconnected, modern city.  A vibrant cultural product helps unite and define a community, promotes stewardship of the place, connects those from differing cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds, advances economic development, and develops civic pride.

We believe this new project is ideally suited to assist the town in developing long-range community visioning and goal setting.  As a not-for-profit organization, we are thinking beyond the here and now; our goal since we set roots in town has always been to establish Gander as a leading centre for arts and cultural development for generations to come.  The Gander Youth Arts Festival will be a cornerstone of that development.