Families meet Santa and enjoy mini-concert on Danforth in preparation for this year’s Riverdale Share community fundraising event.
The Christmas spirit spilled out onto Danforth Avenue from the Second Cup café on Saturday, thanks to the Riverdale Community Association. Children lined up to catch a glimpse of a special guest, Santa Claus, and join a sing-along of classic Christmas carols as a preview of the group’s big concert two weeks later.
“We love it. We come every year,” said Summer Altamimi, who attended with her children Janna, 6, and Dan Eed, 3. They could not wait to speak to Santa Claus.
The event was a thank you to donors and to Second Cup, as well as a sneak preview for the Riverdale Share Concert on Dec. 2, now in its 26th year.
The concert was conceived out of founders’ Bill Usher and Maggie Calledine’s dream to put out a community show, according to the show’s executive director Susan Baker.
Baker attended the first concert in 1991. She reminisced about how exciting the concert was at its debut, with an audience of only 30 people and tickets costing $3. She went with her family and her nine-year-old while pregnant.
“It was such a magical show,” Baker said. “We were all huddled together. At that time the (Danforth) Music Hall was in pretty bad shape. Pieces of the ceiling were falling, and it had been really neglected. But everyone was singing; there was a sing-along and it really kicked off the season. It really put us in the holiday mood.”
She decided then she would volunteer the following year.
Others have grown up with the concert. Baker’s daughter began as an elf for the concert and now handles ticket sales. Baker said her granddaughter will likely be an elf next year. Charities that have received money from the event have flourished alongside the concert’s success.
Sponsorship money goes to the production costs of the concert, while the money raised from ticket sales all goes to charities.
“Last year, we gave away around $50,000 to recipients,” Baker said.
The Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Service (BBYOS) has been involved with Riverdale Share for more than 20 years. BBYOS was founded in 1989 by Rod Cohen to help people who are at risk and vulnerable, through counselling, treatment, life skills training and community outreach.
Cohen began a relationship with Riverdale Share when he distributed 1,000 appeal letters throughout the neighbourhood for his organization and received only two responses — one from a woman who wanted to donate, the other from the Riverdale Share’s co-founder, Bill Usher.
“The mandate of Riverdale Share is to give these funds to support grassroots community organizations, so my organization is the perfect fit for what Riverdale Share does,” Cohen says. “I’m honoured to be a part of it and feel a responsibility to work with them.”
Now he takes the time to volunteer as an assistant manager with the stage crew for Riverdale Share.
Cohen spoke about the importance of Riverdale Share’s role in the community. “It brings people together to build the community in a positive healthy way…. Every year 1,000 people come and enjoy and experience the show, and they get to in some way appreciate how a handful of people all come together to raise between $30,000 and $50,000 to give away to charities like mine that really need the money.”
The organization is led by volunteers, who run the entire production. Local performers and musicians donate their time.
Blair Packham has performed a few times for the Riverdale Share Concert. He sang, “Happy Xmas, War is Over” by John Lennon, as the final song for his first performance at the concert four years ago.
Susan Baker had called him to fill in for a performer who had to drop out of the concert last minute and he was thrilled to be part of the community event as a musician and a local resident.
“As regular performers, your income can be limited and it can be hard to make a monetary contribution to something,” Packham said. “Yet, you want to feel like you’re doing something positive and this is an opportunity to do that. And to give back in a way that helps raise actual money, for actual people. And you really feel like you’re affecting people’s lives in a positive way.”
Baker still remembered the first time she sat in on the concert, unfamiliar with the community as a relatively new resident to the neighbourhood.
On the day of the concert, “I really felt a sense of my community sitting there that day,” she said. “And I feel it today; it’s exactly the same. On the day of the show, this is what it’s all about. Neighbours helping neighbours, people coming together, everybody doing their part. If you’re there, you’re playing a part because you bought a ticket, and that ticket goes to help your neighbours.”
More information on the Dec. 2 concert can be found on the website at //riverdaleshare.com/
A message from our Prime Minister
Riverdale Share readies for its 24th annual edition
Concert raises funds for community organizations that support families
East York Mirror
The final touches are now underway for Riverdale Share’s 24th annual edition.
The popular, family-friendly concert and variety show, which raises funds for nonprofit organizations in east-end Toronto, is set to take place Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at the Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., just east of Broadview Avenue.
This year’s event will feature a diverse lineup of both local and more well-known entertainers including Tabby Johnson, Danny Marks, Jen Schaffer and the Shiners, Julian Taylor, and Dala to name a few. Santa Claus is also expected to make a special appearance.
Mike Tanner will serve as the 90-minute production’s host, while Steve Briggs is back as the band leader. He’ll be joined by music director Tom Leighton.
“Riverdale Share is a holiday tradition. It kicks off the holiday season for a lot of people,” said Susan Baker, the show’s longtime executive director, artistic director, and producer during a recent interview.
“Generations of area residents come year after year. It’s going to be a great show.”
Riverdale Share is made possible through the generous contributions of a number of supporters, notably this year’s title sponsor, The Big Carrot. Because of this support, 100 per cent of the event’s proceeds will be directed to local community programs and organizations.
“All of the money from ticket sales, the donation envelopes and our Friends of Riverdale Share go directly to organizations in the community that support families,” Baker said, noting one of the new organizations benefitting from the funds for the first time this year is the East York Seniors Christmas Dinner.
Baker also credited the community for its ongoing support of Riverdale Share.
“It’s a unique event that brings together restaurants, businesses, community members, volunteers, performers and school kids. Everyone has a role to play,” she said.
“It takes a neighbourhood to put on this child.”
Tickets to Riverdale Share, which cost $20, are available for purchasing at The Big Carrot, 348 Danforth Ave., Treasure Island Toys, 581 Danforth Ave., or online at Ticketmaster.ca.
Visit www.RiverdaleShare.com for more information.
December 2, 2015
Riverdale Share tickets ‘are going well’ but not as fast as Justin Bieber’s
Danforth Music Hall hosts Riverdale Share concert Sunday, Bieber Monday
Tickets for the annual Riverdale Share holiday charity concert, which takes place Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. at the Danforth Music Hall “are going well”, as they usually do, confirmed the charity’s volunteer executive director Susan Baker.
But even Riverdale Share’s highly anticipated 100 per cent volunteer-run concert, which is now in its 23rd year and again hopes to hand over $30,000 to east-end charities, can’t sell them as fast as the hastily arranged fundraising concert slated for Monday night at the venerable music hall.
That would be the one announced by Justin Bieber on his Twitter account Tuesday, Dec. 1 in support of his new album Purpose.
“See u on 12/7 at @TheDanforthMH Tix on sale 4pm est today,” were the words from the Bieb that sent his Twitter followers into a ticket-buying frenzy, selling out in, well, a heartbeat.
And he also announced he was giving the proceeds to a charity in his hometown once used by his mother – the Stratford House of Blessing.
With Riverdale Share, on the other hand, there were still tickets available, at least as of Wednesday.
“We’re hoping there are still some tickets for people at the door (on Sunday) but you never know – those last few days (of ticket sales) you never know,” Baker said.
Admission is $20 plus a non-perishable food donation to be brought to the venue Sunday.
Tickets are available at three Danforth locations:
• the Big Carrot (348 Danforth Ave.),
• Treasure Island Toys (581 Danforth Ave.)
• and It’s My Party (423 Danforth Ave.)
And they are also available online.
Baker said she knew something was up because the donated food from concert goers is usually left at the music hall overnight along with the choir risers.
“But this year, just a few days ago they (the Danforth Music Hall) said you know what, you can’t do that this year. Everything has to be out, there’s a big show coming in at 7 a.m. the next morning.
“And I thought 7 o’clock on a Monday morning, like who’s going in at 7 a.m.”
Justin Bieber, it turns out.
“I wrote to Justin Bieber,” said Baker, with a chuckle, “and said why don’t you show up a day early and be a guest performer (at Riverdale Share)… Hey it doesn’t hurt to ask.”
Bieber or not, the show will feature the usual lineup of artists from the talent-rich east end who all volunteer their time for the always-anticipated show.
More information at //riverdaleshare.com/
November 7, 2015
Riverdale Share Concert aiming to raise more than $30,000 for local charities
Tickets are now on sale for the 23rd annual show
Tickets are now on sale for the 23rd annual Riverdale Share Concert, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at the Danforth Music Hall.
Tickets are $20, plus a non-perishable food item to be dropped off at the concert, and can be picked up at the Big Carrot (348 Danforth Ave.), Treasure Island Toys (581 Danforth Ave.) and It’s My Party (423 Danforth Ave.).
Tickets will be available online starting Friday, Nov. 6.
“This event would not be possible without the dedicated volunteers and artists who donate their time and talent and money; the generous support of its sponsors who cover the costs of producing the show; and the local merchants who help sell tickets and donate goods and services” said Susan Baker, executive director of Riverdale Share Community Association (RSCA), in a media release.
The volunteer-run organization plans to once again raise more than $30,000 and truckloads of food for families in crisis in the community in one afternoon.
Recipients of funds raised at last year’s Riverdale Share Concert include:
• Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre: a multi-service, community-based organization located in the Blake/Boultbee area of Toronto, the centre has provided programs and services that help meet the need of the area’s children, youth, seniors and newcomer families in this community for more than 40 years;
• Kennedy House Youth Shelter: a 23-bed, 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-per-year shelter near Pape and O’Connor that provides support to at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 who are homeless;
• Ralph Thornton Community Centre (RTC): a hub of activity in South Riverdale for more than 30 years, Riverdale Share supports two programs in particular: The Children Youth Mentor Program, which helps newcomer children from the Chinese community adjust and adapt to their new Canadian culture; and in partnership with Jimmy Simpson Recreation Centre and WoodGreen Community Centre, a joint summer day camp for children three to 12 years;
• Riverdale Food Working Group (RFWG): a community group that strives to address food access issues in the Riverdale neighbourhood, the group consists of community members and organizational partners, including the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC), the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Mustard Seed and Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre;
• and the South Riverdale Child Parent Centre: a family support program that offers a parent-child drop-in, parenting workshops and a book and toy lending library, the centre is open five days a week (and Saturdays in the winter) to families with children from birth to six years.
The RSCA will accept grant applications for programs and projects that address families and individuals in need and are community-oriented until March 31, and grants will be awarded by June.
For information on tickets or Riverdale Share or the charities its serves, visit //riverdaleshare.com
November 27, 2014
McLauchlan, Stockwood, Sharon, Lois and Bram and Devin Cuddy at Riverdale Share concert
East York Mirror
This year’s annual Riverdale Share holiday concert, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. at the Danforth Music Hall, will feature not a new, but an old twist.
It’s being tweaked just a bit to make sure it includes – and appeals to – kids.
“Our response back from the community was that we had kind of gotten a little away from the family show, that it was almost too professional. And that they wanted more kids in the show, and geared more at children,” said Susan Baker, the volunteer executive director as well as producer and co-artistic director.
“So we really tried to do that this year. We have a lot of children in the show.”
Rest assured, though, they still have a lot of star power.
As usual, area musicians and performers have answered the call, led by well known local performers Murray McLauchlan, Kim Stockwood and Sharon, Lois and Bram.
And in the ‘like father, like son’ category, Devin Cuddy will interrupt his fall tour promoting his new sophomore album, released this summer, for his first headline appearance. His debut album got him a Juno nomination in 2012. He follows on the heels of his father Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame, a Riverdale resident who has been no stranger to the Riverdale Share stage, including at last year’s concert.
The backing Riverdale Share band includes Tom Leighton as musical director and on piano and Steve Briggs as band leader and on guitar.
“We really don’t thank our band enough, we’re lucky to have them,” Baker said. “We have mostly the same people every year. Some trade in and trade out as they have tours they’re on.”
Riverdale Share is aiming to raise $30,000 to be distributed mostly to charities that do their work in the east end.
“That’s always are goal. I think last year we fell a little short, we gave away $26,000. Some years we go a little over, some a little less.”
Tickets are $20.
Tickets are available at //riverdaleshare.com or at the following three Danforth locations: The Big Carrot, 348 Danforth Ave.; Treasure Island Toys, 581 Danforth Ave.; and It’s My Party, 423 Danforth Ave.
November 27, 2014
Share burritos and share alike: Fed Share
Corey Mintz attends a planning meeting of the annual Riverdale Share Concert at Danforth Music Hall, bringing along the ideal portable meal.
My first condo board meeting was everything I expected. It had all the tedium of community home ownership — Why are we spending so much on snow removal? When will we need to replace the boilers? — drowned out by a debate over dogs pooping in the courtyard.
But it’s possible for local residents to come together to make their community better.
Tonight I’m at a meeting for the Riverdale Share Concert, an annual fundraiser organized by east end residents. For the past 22 years they have been staging this musical event with all proceeds going to local social programs and organizations. Last year they raised and gave away $26,558 (after an $18,942 operating budget, covered by sponsors).
We’re in the home of Susan Baker, near Riverdale Park. I’m not the jealous type. But there’s a wall of cobalt blue tiles behind a Garland commercial oven in the kitchen, four gas elements and a flat-top, showing circular marks from where her daughter made pancakes yesterday.
I’m using it to warm up burritos.
It took me a couple tries before my hands remembered the rolling technique. The first one was too large. Filled with yam, stewed beef, guacamole, red rice and cheese, the avocado comes squirting out of the flap. That’s not okay in burrito rolling. Then, like riding a bike, my reflexes kick in.
What makes a bad burrito is too much rice, a loose roll and bland ingredients obfuscated by hot sauce. You can still roll a too-large burrito, but I think the eating is compromised if you have to bite around its wide circumference, like a melting ice cream cone, as loosely packed rice spill out.
What makes a great burrito is delicious filling, in the right proportions, a tortilla that’s toasted or steamed so it stretches a little, and a tight roll. As tight as a hotel bed sheet.
If you do all that they retain their heat well and can be eaten with the carefree one-handed ease of a hot dog. I chose burritos because they travel well. On the streetcar ride over, the bag of hot burritos (10 beef, 10 bean) warmed the legs of everyone standing near me.
They’re still toasty when they go in Baker’s oven, and when they emerge, the tortillas are crisp on the ends.
In the living room, next to a scratched-up piano and a framed photo of girls playing with a pony, about 15 committee members gather in a circle of chairs and sofas. They nibble on burritos and sip wine as Baker unfolds a Bristol board detailing the running order of the show.
“Three weeks to showtime, everyone,” Baker reminds them of the deadline, Dec. 7 at the Danforth Music Hall. “Pay attention.”
“The fanfare I’m working on,” starts Tom Leighton, musical director, “is sort of a Dick Dale version of ‘Jingle Bells.’” When no one gets the reference, he demonstrates some surf rock-style drumming.
“This is not the final running order,” says Baker, pointing to colour-coded sticky notes on the board, pink, green and blue, walking the group through the rest of the show, including a child contortionist, pre-teens singing “Rock Around the Christmas Tree,” a hip-hop ballet “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies,” a stilt walker, a calypso band, children’s musicians Sharon and Lois without Bram and the Franklin School Choir (40 of them) doing “Seven Feet of Snow.”
“And they’re going to be throwing Styrofoam snowballs out into the audience,” says Baker. “And then we have the sing-along.”
“Winter Wonderland,” says Leighton.
“Can’t,” Baker tells him. “Robert Missen’s already doing it.”
“We could do ‘White Christmas.’ It’s a classic. And you all know it.”
Baker takes a bite of her burrito, while 7-year-old Alma whispers to me that she’s going to be an elf. Near the end of the show there will a request for audience members to give a little more. In church it’s called passing the collection plate. In organized crime it’s called a shakedown. Here it’s called The Ask and the elves do the collecting.
There’s a cultish fervor about the concert and the annual cycle of hard work that goes into it, with more than 100 volunteers, dozens of local business sponsorships and contributions over the years from professional musicians (Steven Page, Jim Cuddy) and politicians (Jack Layton, who helped the charity get incorporated). Jian Ghomeshi used to close out the night by singing John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas” but he’s, well, he’s unavailable this year.
“This year we’re going to ask Santa: no political messages,” says Baker. “Sometimes he likes to get on stage and start trashing capitalism.” Everyone agrees that the current Santa is the best they’ve had. “We had one Santa that fell down on stage. One got drunk on snowballs next door at Allen’s and almost missed the whole show. Over 22 years we’ve had several drunk Santa Clauses. It goes with the job.”
“One year we had Jack Layton,” recounts Leighton. “And the opposition went ballistic. They were furious.”
Aside from that, the meetings don’t get too political.
“We don’t fight but it can go off on all sorts of tangents,” says Baker. “We’re not sitting around a boardroom table. We don’t have Robert’s Rules of Order. We drink wine. We eat food. A lot of us would probably never have connected to each other. But through Riverdale Share we’ve all become friends.”
I will try to hold this image — of friendship, teamwork and charity — in my heart, when I go to my next condo meeting and hear someone ask if we can install security cameras in the courtyard to catch the pooping dog.
November 22, 2013
Get your tickets for Dec. 8 Riverdale Share
You can also help by volunteer work and sponsorship
Staff file photo/NICK PERRY
East York Mirror
Rise up, Rise up and pick up your tickets on the Danforth for this year’s 21st annual Riverdale Share holiday concert where those attending will be guaranteed not to have a Blue, Blue (Rodeo) Christmas.
That’s because Jim Cuddy, co-frontman of Blue Rodeo, and Lorraine Segato, co-founder of the Parachute Club (Rise Up is their biggest hit), are leading this year’s parade of local musicians chipping in for the always anticipated holiday fundraising concert which will be held Dec. 8, 3 p.m. at the Danforth Music Hall.
Tickets are available at three locations on the Danforth: The Big Carrot (348), Treasure Island Toys (581) and It’s My Party (423).
As always, the entirely volunteer board that runs this charity fundraising concert are greatly appreciative of advance tickets sales.
And it’s for a great cause. Last year the money raised went to a number of key neighbourhood service organizations including: Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Service; Kaleidoscope Kids; Ralph Thornton Community Centre (in particular its Youth Mentor and After School programs); the Riverdale Food Working Group; Sol Express L’Arche Toronto; and South Riverdale Child Parent Centre.
Iconic family entertainers Sharon and Lois are also back along with a cast that includes Tim Bovaconti, Sunray Grennan, Suzy Wilde, David Gale, Randy Vancourt, Donné Roberts, Theresa Tova, Quique Escamilla, The Rooster Uke Orchestra, Matt Bernard (of Bains and Bernard), Abdominal (aka Andy Bernstein) and his mother Sharon Singer, Flynn Tanner and more – all backed by the well seasoned Riverdale Share house band.
Besides picking up your tickets early, other ways to help this great cause are through volunteer work and sponsorship.
For a detailed list of performers and their bios, and the local east Toronto community service groups they help, as well as for more information on tickets, volunteering, and sponsorship, visit the website at //riverdaleshare.com
The 20th Anniversary Riverdale Share Concert back home at the historic Danforth Music Hall
Neighbourhood Living East – Winter 2012 – Issue 13
Click here to view article online (scroll to page 52)
Riverdale Share Tickets On Sale November 12, 2012
Tickets go on sale Nov. 12 at several Danforth Avenue locations for next month’s Riverdale Share holiday concert.
Celebrating its 20th year anniversary, the annual December concert is not only back after a one-year hiatus last year, but back at the Danforth Music Hall, which has seating for more than 1,100.
After spending its first 18 years there, it had to relocate the previous two shows because of a change of ownership one year and for a long-running musical the previous year.
“We’re really excited to be back,” said Riverdale Share volunteer Executive Director Susan Baker. “It’s renovated. They have their own sound and lights – we won’t have to bring as much in. It’s great.”
This year’s concert will be held Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.
One way organizers will get the word out, besides media coverage, is through their annual poster blitz, largely undertaken by high school students, followed by a party. It runs Sunday, Nov. 11 from noon to 4 p.m.
Baker said they blanket the area from about “Broadview to Greenwood (avenues), and Mortimer down to Queen.”
To find out more and get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The annual pre-concert Christmas carol sing-along has been penciled in for Friday, Dec. 7, with final details to be released closer to the date.
The show has raised thousands of dollars for charities that work in Riverdale and surrounding areas. Its dual purpose, however, has also been to celebrate the Christmas and holiday spirit in true family fashion.
The Riverdale community is known for its high concentration of artists, and they’ve lent their support to the annual music fundraiser in the past, including some of the more well-known icons such as Jim Cuddy and Steven Page.
Guest musicians are backed up by “the same fabulous Riverdale Share band” led by band leader Steve Briggs and musical director Tom Leighton.
Ironically, while there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of local professional musicians willing to volunteer their support, White conceded she’s had unexpected problems at the other end of the spectrum this year. Because of the job action between teachers and Queen’s Park, she said she still hadn’t been able to secure an elementary children’s choir.
This year, as in previous years, White is holding December’s prospective lineup close to her vest with a couple of notable exceptions.
Beloved children’s entertainers “Sharon and Lois are coming back – Bram will be away.”
And, fittingly, the founders of Riverdale Share 20 years ago – three-time June award winner and Danforth Tech grad Bill Usher and his wife (and fellow musician) Maggie Calladine – are traveling back from British Columbia to perform.
“It was their brainchild and they were involved for 10 years.
“And Bill is going to perform a song that he wrote in the early days of Riverdale Share for Riverdale Share. So that will be a nice thing to have.”
As for the rest of the line-up…
“We’re trying to reach back and have some people that have performed throughout the years as opposed to newer people because it is an anniversary show,” she said.
Danforth ticket locations include: The Big Carrot, 348 Danforth Ave.; It’s My Party, 423 Danforth Ave,; and Treasure Island Toys, 581 Danforth Ave.
For more details, or for sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, visit www.riverdaleshare.com/
Riverdale Share is back at Danforth Music Hall
Much-loved event celebrates 20th anniversary holiday show
The Riverdale Share annual holiday concert is not only coming back after a one-year absence – it’s coming home.
The much-loved family holiday concert, which has raised thousands of dollars for east Toronto charities, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, on Sunday, Dec. 9, 3 p.m., at the Danforth Music Hall, confirmed the show’s volunteer producer and artistic director Susan Baker.
But don’t worry, yet, about tickets – Baker and her fellow volunteers have actually not yet even confirmed how much they will cost, let alone when they will go on sale.
But those who have enjoyed the concert, which has always enjoyed the support of the vibrant artist community from Riverdale and beyond, should check back for a fall ticket announcement.
“We’d like to bring back some of the big acts from the past – some of the favourites,” said Baker. “We’ll probably have some new acts as well but our first focus is going through all the old programs and videos and trying to get back people who we remember fondly from previous years.”
The charity concert originally began in the venerable Danforth theatre where it was held for most years, until it had to seek alternate arrangements a couple of years ago when the hall was booked for a long-runnng musical and then again the following year when it was undergoing a change in management.
With the music hall back in business, and featuring a growing entertainment line-up, it made sense for the concert to return to its roots.
It was a bittersweet decision, however, as the organizers were very appreciative of St. Barnabas Church on the Danforth for offering their own venerable church for the last two concerts.
“The church had been so great to take us in, and it was all warm and kind of cozy, but it’s the 20th anniversary – got to be back to the music hall,” said Baker.
The hall is also already set up to hold a concert as opposed to the church which volunteers had to help prepare extensively with sound equipment and put in a stage – then pack it up and move out in time for regular Sunday church service to take place.
The larger venue will also allow going back to having just one show (they held two at St. Barnabus) – easier on the volunteer musicians and crew.
As always, Baker and her fellow organizers are always appreciative of any contributions from volunteers and sponsors. While a lot of the volunteer work centres on the actual event, help is needed throughout the year in various capacities such as promotion, publicity and talking to potential sponsors and donors.
Despite last year’s one-year hiatus, Baker said that thanks primarily to a major sponsor, The Big Carrot, still coming through with its donation, that Riverdale Share will still be handing out more than $5,000 worth of donations to local worthy charities in the next week or two.
For more info, visit www.riverdaleshare.com/
– Norm Nelson
Riverdale Share to take a year off
Twentieth anniversary show planned for December 2012
The popular concert has been cancelled for 2011, but planning for the 2012 show continues.
Riverdale Share, the annual Holiday concert which aims to raise good cheer – along with money for local neighbourhood charities – is taking a year off.
Instead, it will wait until December 2012 to hold its 20th anniversary community show.
The decision was made after one of the key organizers for the grassroots, volunteer initiative, Susan Baker, the volunteer executive director, has had to take time off for a family matter – helping to care for her father.
“Our dedication, commitment and boundless enthusiasm for this cause is unwavering, however as our dear friend, the late Jack Layton poignantly expressed, it is important to take time out when life challenges us in other ways,” said Baker in a message to sponsors and supporters in the community.
The extra time, she assured, will be put to good use for next year’s show.
“While this much loved annual event is sure to be missed this holiday season – we are thrilled to be able to contribute an extra year of planning and preparation to ensure that the 20th Anniversary (show) is marked in a significant and impactful way.
“This celebratory performance is not only a finale for our first two extraordinary decades, but will also launch us into the many decades to come.”
This past summer the charity distributed more than $28,000 in a ceremony attended by local recipients, sponsors and supporters.
Over the past 19 years, the Riverdale Share community concert has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and truckloads of food for families in crisis in the Riverdale community.
The show has attracted an impressive list of stars, many of them local, who join fellow local artists on stage, such as former Barenaked Ladies’ frontman Steve Page, the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downey, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, rock music’s cult heroine Mary Margaret O’Hara, country legend Russell deCarle (Prairie Oyster), Great Big Sea’s baritone Murray Foster, pop group Moxy FrÃ¼vous, comedian Luba Goy, CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi, the Bebop Cowboys, Gregg Lawless and many more.
– Norm Nelson
Riverdale Share hands over $28,000
Riverdale Share is known for its annual charity holiday concert in December, and on Tuesday, May 31 – the hottest day of the year in Toronto thus far, when the temperature finally cracked the 30-mark, it held its annual spring ceremony to award grants from the money raised.
The ceremony, which distributed $28,000, was held at Whistler’s Grille, 995 Broadview Ave. (at Mortimer) and attended by grateful local charity officials, sponsors and supporters.
Susan Baker, the event’s longtime volunteer executive director, pointed out that this year’s show will mark a notable milestone – the 20th anniversary. Work and planning has already begun on this year’s show – already pencilled in for Saturday, Dec. 10 – and, of course, any and all support would be appreciated, including those who wish to help through volunteering or sponsorship which covers the cost of producing the show.
Over the past 19 years, the Riverdale Share community concert has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and truckloads of food for families in crisis in the Riverdale community. The show has attracted an impressive list of stars, many of them local, who join fellow local artists on stage, such as former Barenaked Ladies’ frontman Steve Page, the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downey, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, rock music’s cult heroine Mary Margaret O’Hara, country legend Russell deCarle (Prairie Oyster), Great Big Sea’s baritone Murray Foster, pop-group Moxy Früvous, comedian Luba Goy, CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi, the Bebop Cowboys, Gregg Lawless and many more.
Riverdale Share Community Association is a registered non-profit, volunteer-driven organization whose mandate is to produce a large, inclusive, festive celebration while raising money for families in crisis within the Riverdale community.
The Tuesday event paid tribute to one of its long-time volunteers, Rick Hand, who died in 2009.
“For as many years as we can remember, Rick was responsible for converting the Danforth Music Hall into a magical Christmas wonderland for the Riverdale Share Concert,” Baker said of the “much-loved” volunteer.
“Although the concert always took place during Rick’s busiest season, we could always count on him and his daughter Quinn to show up bright and early with big smiles and warm hugs for everyone. “We were extremely touched that Rick’s family – (wife) Diane, (and kids) Quinn and Tyler – requested that donations to Riverdale Share be made in Rick’s name.”
And that donation was also handed over by the family May 31 to the Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Service. Quinn, in a moving speech, outlined how they had benefited from their father’s love and attention throughout their lives and how the family wanted to support a group helping less fortunate youth.
Riverdale Share also announced that the Thundercloud Fund, which was started in 2008 in memory of another beloved volunteer Helen Thundercloud who passed away was also put to good use in 2010.
“This year, there was a single mom and her two children who lost everything when their apartment burnt down,” said Baker. “With monies from the Thundercloud Fund, we were able to help this family start to get back on their feet again by providing them some of the daily essentials like new clothes and toiletries, furniture and kitchenware.
Meanwhile here’s a list of this year’s recipients which were presented their grants at the Tuesday event, followed by a brief outline of the work they do in the community:
BLAKE BOULTBEE YOUTH OUTREACH SERVICE (BBYOS): a community-based agency established in 1989 to provide comprehensive services to high-risk youth and their families in the Blake Boultbee community, a high density, low income area of east Toronto. BBYOS provides intensive individual, group and family counselling and therapy, community outreach, life skills training and crisis intervention that offers options to these at-risk young people and their families.Visit //www.bbyos.org/;
BLAKE BOULTBEE YOUTH OUTREACH SERVICE – BOYS AND GIRLS GROUP: this is a weekly group for boys and girls between 10 and 13 years in a community of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. It focuses on group counselling, self-esteem, self-worth and image, health/nutrition, peer support, violence and abuse (physical, emotional and mental). The goal is that these children develop non-violent communication and conflict resolution skills, a healthy sense of self and feel a sense of empowerment and control in their lives. Visit //www.bbyos.org/;
BOOK BAG AND READING CLUB – PARENT RESOURCES DROP-IN CENTRE: a community program initiated in 2006 by literacy teacher and children’s author Seilah Currie, for newcomer families in the Gerrard Street East area of Toronto. Children read engaging books that are tailored to their individual skill levels to ensure that reading attempts are enjoyable and successful. Volunteers from the community work one-on-one to help with any challenging vocabulary before the books are sent home for extra practice. Picture books for pre-schoolers and chapter books for proficient readers are also available to borrow.
BROADVIEW COMMUNITY YOUTH GROUP (BCYG): this charity created in 2007 provides summer and holiday camps, as well as specialty programs on weekends and will soon provide after-school programming for children between the ages of four and 12 in east Toronto. Programs are offered in one of three streams – health and fitness; creative and performing arts; and fun educational. The BCYG is the only youth-oriented group of its kind within this community, and as a result, fills a large void by providing programs and services geared towards children and youth. Visit //www.bcyg.ca/;
NELLIE’S – ENDING VIOLENCE: since 1973, Nellie’s has been operating programs and services for women and children who have and are experiencing oppressions such as violence, poverty and homelessness. Nellie’s is a community-based feminist organization which operates within an anti-racist, anti-oppression framework. Its Ending Violence Support Group exemplifies its dedication to using education and advocacy to affect social change when working with survivors of abuse, as well as learn and discuss different ways to end violence in their lives. Visit //www.nellies.org/
RALPH THORNTON CENTRE – CHILDREN AND YOUTH AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM: this program was developed in order to respond to the need for safe, educational and enjoyable activities for South Riverdale Children, especially those who face challenges due to school problems, family income and social marginalization. This program runs five days a week and matches primary school children with trained volunteers to help with homework, and participate in a variety of social, artistic, recreational and environmental activities. Visit //ralphthornton.org/
RALPH THORNTON CENTRE – RIVERDALE YOUTH CHILDREN MENTOR PROGRAM: this program helps newcomer children from the Chinese community adjust and adapt to their new Canadian culture. One-on-one support is provided as students are given English language work that is catered to their individual needs and abilities. Cultural adaptation and social skills are developed through various interactive group activities. Visit //ralphthornton.org/
SOUTH RIVERDALE CHILD-PARENT CENTRE: a family support program that offers a parent-child drop-in, parenting workshops and a book and toy lending library. Open five days a week and Saturdays in the winter, the centre is open to families with children from birth to six years. The staff offers referral services and informal counselling to all families. Visit //webhome.idirect.com/~srcpc/
Annual Riverdale Share Christmas Concert
When we think of neighbourhood, many things come to mind. In this part of the city, we might think of comfortable older homes, great gardens, and a canopy of trees that shelters us from the fast pace of the downtown core. We think of kids playing in the park, neighbours becoming friends and, perhaps, people banding together to make life a little better for those who live here. All of these things make us happy to come home at night, believing we live somewhere special.
Twenty years ago, Bill Usher and Maggie Callahan felt the same way and thought a Christmas community concert would give residents a chance to get out and celebrate. If you could bang a drum, you were in. The BIA got involved and somehow the concert made a little money through ticket sales, then the next year it made a little more – and then a little more. Sue Baker and others joined in to sell tickets, kids became ushers, and artists donated their time.
Today, seventeen years after first volunteering, Sue is the Executive Director of the Riverdale Share Concert, volunteering full-time to make sure it gets off the ground each Christmas. It takes a load of people with a crazy amount of commitment to pull it all together. And every year there is a unique challenge that somehow is overcome. She explained that once, in the early days when things got a little tough financially, Ken McLaughlin at Remax kicked in with $5000 – and then did so for 10 years! When his tenure ended, The Big Carrot picked up the ball and is still the title sponsor.
So what is this concert all about? As Sue says, “There is always a big discussion about why we do the show. Do we do it to help the charities that apply to us for funding? Or just to celebrate our great community and bring it together? Really, it’s about 50/50. Early on we decided to give the proceeds to families in need. Today all the money raised from ticket sales is donated to non-profits in the neighbourhood.
Currently we’re raising around $30,000 for charity each year, with our sponsors carrying the costs of the show.”
And when asked about the challenges they face these days, Sue explains that with ticket prices of only $15 they have to work hard at generating enough sales to meet the requests for assistance. Then they have to find sponsors to support the event. Costs have risen over the years from renting the venue to advertising, equipment rentals for light and sounds – the list goes on. While the performers – and there are many – donate their time, and local restaurants and businesses donate help, “the biggest problem is getting volunteers! And the hardest part is when we’re planning the show.
The planning committee meets once a week at 7:00 and the artistic committee at 9:00. We try to balance the show so that we have things for kids and adults, an equal mix of male and female performers, and representation from different ethnic groups. We always have a local choir. And we have Santa. Gravity Circus is always involved … and we try to have a couple of our more famous residents. We’ve had The Tragically Hip, Jim Cuddy, Steven Page, Murray McLauchlan, Martha and the Muffins … but then we also have the guy from down the street. The hardest part is trying to get that balance in 17 acts.”
Once it’s all over, there are the proceeds to consider. During the spring, organizations apply for funds for various projects and in May, “We do a second show up at the Estonian Hall, called Bebop-a-looza. We have a silent auction and give away the money raised at the Christmas concert. It’s a big dinner-dance. Magic Oven prepares all the food, Mill Street gives us all the beer, Fermentations gives us all the wine, The Bebop Cowboys donate their time as the house band and we invite six or seven performers sing with them.”
So, after all these years, and all this work on behalf of her community, what will happen now that Sue is thinking about moving on? “Well, I’m always on the look-out for somebody coming in who might be someone I could pass the torch to, like Bill passed the torch to me. Riverdale Share has given me a life I never expected. It’s been a truly wonderful gift. We have a whole slew of high school students that still work for us but have gone off to university. They started as elves, recruited for the poster party, ushered, and were runners on the day. And one of them is thirty years old now and a mom. She actually became a board member, and she started when she was ten or twelve! There are lots of people with experiences like that. Committee members have kids who have never missed a show. They’ve been coming since they were born! And we’re brainwashing them to take over!”
They’re all programmed for Share! Keep an eye out for tickets for the Riverdale Share Christmas Concert at St. Barnabas Church, 361 Danforth Ave. Tickets are available at www.riverdaleshare.com or at Treasure Island Toys and The Big Carrot. Shows are on Dec 11, at 2:00 and 4:30 pm
Riverdale Share back at St. Barnabas
Tickets will go on sale Monday, Nov. 15 at two Danforth locations – The Big Carrot and Treasure Island Toys – as well as on the local charity’s website at www.riverdaleshare.com
“We’re just starting to put the show together. We’re in our first round of asks,” said volunteer executive director Susan Baker.
Historically, those ‘asks’ have received a lot of positive responses from local musicians, including last year’s appearances by ex-BNL founder Steven Page along with a crowd-pleasing reunion of legendary children’s performers Sharon, Lois and Bram, all guided by longtime band leader Steve Briggs and musical director Tom Leighton.
The past couple of years have also seen visits from such local luminaries as Blue Rodeo co-founder Jim Cuddy and veteran folk artist Murray McLauchlan.
This year will mark the 19th year for the show, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities, not to mention providing a great family show, and Baker said volunteers are always needed, particularly this year organizers are looking for:
* publicity-promotion person: “the publicity part is important to us not so much because we need to sell tickets because we don’t have a big problem doing that. The publicity part is more necessary just for name recognition when we’re looking for sponsorship and donors. We could be better known,” said Baker.
* “eight strong people” to do the load-in Friday and then the load-out Saturday night. Volunteers will be able to enjoy the after-event party for 90 minutes to two hours when they will be summoned to do the load-out.
* experienced audio and lighting hands: “If we get some more volunteers that have a little audio and lighting experience we can cut down on the people we have to hire so that’ll help.”
After 17 years at the Danforth Music Hall, Riverdale Share will set up stage for the second straight year with its new host.
“This year will be a lot easier because we know what to expect, and the church has been so warm and friendly to us and inviting that we’re better just to stick where we are,” said Baker.
Riverdale Share raises $20,000
The Riverdale Share annual holiday concert in December, which had Steve Page and Sharon, Lois and Bram leading a volunteer contingent of local performers, raised $20,000. And organizers of the long-running holiday fundraiser, held Saturday, Dec. 12 at St. Barnabas Church on the Danforth, have already set the date when they will give the money away to local charities that operate in the Riverdale area – Saturday, May 1 at the third annual Bebop-a-Looza dinner.
As usual, representatives from the recipient organizations will be on hand for supporters to meet.
And as usual, Riverdale’s critically acclaimed Bebop Cowboys will be back with their special musical guests to provide the finger-snappin’, toe-tappin’ swing music.
Ticket info for the annual dinner will be posted shortly at www.riverdaleshare.com
Supporters should also note the concert video from 2009 has been posted on the website (click on 2009 videos), including performances by Page and Sharon, Lois and Bram.
More coverage on the Music Notes blog on our website at www.insidetoronto.com
Riverdale Share Concert
Nothing new to report on the Riverdale Share annual concert, held Saturday, Dec. 12 at St. Barnabas Church on the Danforth. I said it last year in my review, and I’ll say it again – best entertainment ticket $15 can buy.
I was curious as to how the change of venues – from the Danforth Music Hall (now home to the Toxic Avenger musical) to a venerable church – would shake out. It worked for me, for one reason – size. The new venue featured an even more intimate setting while still being spacious.
The sound was rich, which is a good thing, given the calibre of musicians volunteering their time. Everything starts with the house band under musical director (and pianist) Tom Leighton and band leader (and guitarist) Steve Briggs, and complete with horn and string sections. It’s worth the price of admission itself.
They were as at home backing Tabby Johnson in a rousing gospel rendition of Go Tell it On the Mountain as they were backing Russel deCarle and Michael Berube in jazzy versions of ageless holiday standards, respectively, Winter Wonderland and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The whole show was uniformly great, and I don’t want to mention too many more or I might as well just go through the entire list which you can get from the program. I will note the youngsters, however. Frankland Choir – the youngest performers. Wow. Great job. And particularly to the youth in Spraoi, Gentlemen of the Jury and the Tanners, it’s alway great to see that kind of blossoming musical talent.
Also, a very nice close-out by Mia Sheard on Lennon’s Happy Xmas. Had to wipe away a tear or two on that one, as usual.
Last but not least – as if the above wasn’t worth the price of admission – were the star turns by two favourite local international acts, former Barenaked Ladies co-founder Steven Page and legendary children’s performers Sharon, Lois and Bram. Their music is special in my family’s life, including their holiday CDs which are part of our collection, and it was special to see them on stage at St. Barnabas.
Both received rousing and warm ovations, Page for a stand-out version of his own Hanukkah Blessings from the BNL Holiday CD and Sharon, Lois and Bram leading a spirited, audience-participation Twelve Days of Christmas.
For those who would like to attend another Christmas benefit, Mia Sheard will host the The Christmas Show Dec. 18 and 18 (Fri/Sat) at the Rivoli on Queen Street in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank and The Stephen Lewis Foundation. Cost is $18 and if you’re able, a non-perishable food item would be appreciated. Check it out at //mouthpartsandwings.ca/
Riverdale Share announces tentative lineup
Former Barenaked Ladies’ Stephen Page and famed children’s group Sharon, Lois and Bram are among a strong cast of local musicians who have already pencilled in the date of the always anticipated 18th annual Riverdale Share Concert, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12. There’s a couple of changes this year.
First, it’s being held on a Saturday; second it’s at a new location at St. Barnabas Church, 361 Danforth Ave. (between Chester and Broadview subway stations, south side); and third, there’s two shows at 2 and 4:30 p.m.
A sellout is expected, but tickets are still available at three Danforth locations:
* The Big Carrot,
* It’s My Party,
* and Treasure Island Toys.
The charity concert, in support of local non-profit community organizations, has traditionally been well supported by local entertainers, many of them native to Riverdale or East Toronto.
Others musicians who have also signed up for this year include Sproai, Soul Influence, Gentleman of the Jury, Northern Legs Southern Fists, The Jazzabelles, Jory Nash, Russell deCarle, Tabby Johnson, Luba Goy and Mia Sheard.
Tickets are $15 each and people are being asked to bring a food donation.
Visit www.riverdaleshare.com for details.
As usual, Riverdale Share will get the community warmed up with its annual sing-along, which will be held this year at The Second Cup at Danforth and Hampton avenues Friday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to noon.
And if you’re wondering about the midday Friday time slot, Riverdale’s volunteer president Susan Baker assures in an email – “it’s a P.A. day! Bring the kids.”
“All are invited to join a spirited gaggle of neighbours, volunteers and performers as they gather for their traditional sing-along. Even Santa shows up. Help us decorate the Riverdale Share Peace Tree.”
As well The Second Cup, longtime sponsor of Riverdale Share, will donate a dollar from every beverage sold on Dec. 11 and 12 to the Riverdale Share Concert.
Annual holiday show slated for Dec. 12, tickets on sale Nov. 16
The annual Riverdale Share holiday benefit concert, a perpetual sell-out in recent years, has a new home, day and format.
Remaining unchanged from last year is the price – $15.
This year’s 18th annual edition will be held at St. Barnabas Anglican Church, on the south side of Danforth Avenue at Hampton Avenue (between Broadview and Chester subway stops), on Saturday, Dec. 12 and the format will feature two shows, at 2 and 4:30 p.m.
Tickets, which have been a hot commodity in recent years, will go on sale to the general public on Monday, Nov. 16 both online at www.riverdaleshare.com and at three locations on the Danforth – Treasure Island Toys, the Big Carrot and It’s My Party.
Those who have supported the local charity either through sponsorships (which range from $1,000 to $5,000) or as a ‘friend of the charity’ (ranging from $100 to $500) will have an opportunity to pre-order their tickets two weeks in advance.
Each concert will be able to hold about 500 people, right in the church sanctuary.
“The moment I walked in, I felt this was it,” said longtime Riverdale volunteer and current executive director Susan Baker. “It just felt right. I could see us in there. I think it will be beautiful. It just felt warm and cozy and community and grassroots and all the things that are important to us.”
Traditionally, the concert, for the past 17 years, has been held on a Sunday at the Danforth Music Hall, but this year the venerable Danforth venue is debuting what it hopes will be a long running musical – The Toxic Avenger.
The theatre did offer to make its ‘dark’ night available, which is Monday, but Riverdale Share would basically have had to build a stage in front of the stage to make it work.
Baker said they were even considering taking the show slightly out of the area – to Rosedale Heights School for the Arts (at Bloor and Castle Frank) – when Faiza Ansari from Greektown on the Danforth suggested a location right under their noses, literally across the street: St. Barnabas. Baker said the church put out the welcome mat.
But just not on a Sunday, for obvious reasons. And hence the switch to a Saturday show.
“They want us there and we want to be there,” said Baker. “Perfect.”
Obviously not as big as the Danforth Music Hall, organizers will rectify that somewhat by working the volunteer musicians twice as hard, performing for two shows.
Riverdale and the surrounding area is home to many of Toronto’s working musicians and they have come out in droves in support of the charity, including those with national or international profiles such as Murray McLaughlin last year and in previous years Steve Page and Jim Cuddy, just to name a few.
The church will require more preparation work than was required for the Danforth Music Hall, which already had a ready-made stage complete with lights and sound system.
On the other hand, organizers will have more preparation time at St. Barnabas.
And fortunately, said Baker, they also have had wonderful support over the past several years from Frontier Sound and Light, the production company they use.
Riverdale Share, which has raised thousands of dollars over the years, makes its annual funding announcements at a spring gala, which also serves as a fundraiser. As usual, Riverdale Share intends to warm the community up with its pre event holiday sing-song at the Second Cup on the Danforth, and full details will be announced a little later.
For those wishing to help out, “what we’re looking for now, the main priority, is looking for ‘sponsors’ and ‘friends’.”
In-kind donations are definitely also welcome, in particular in two areas.
- T-shirts: ”what we’re really looking for now is a t-shirt sponsor, somebody who would be willing to donate the t-shirts we give to the performers and the volunteers;
- A printer: “the printer that’s donated all our printing for many, many years now at absolutely no cost has retired and closed his business so we’re looking for a new printing sponsor, so that’s another thing we’re reaching out for…It was a fairly big package he did for us and he never wanted thanks in the program, we always tried to put his name on the t-shirt or in the program, or make him an official in-kind sponsor – and he never wanted it. So we were never able to thank him the way we usually do, but we sure miss him now.”
Volunteers are also welcome, in particular during the day of the concert.
“Driving around, doing pick-up, loading in the show, loading out the show, we can always use people in those areas.”