Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund to support students, creators and performers

The death of NOWs beloved senior theatre writer Jon Kaplan last year was followed by an outpouring of moving tributes.

The death of NOWs beloved senior theatre writer Jon Kaplan last year was followed by an outpouring of moving tributes celebrating the colossal impact he had in the Toronto theatre community. Friends shared memories, theatres reserved a seat in his name, and back in September hundreds gathered to honour his 35 years of stalwart service with an emotional memorial performance at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

The Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund, which officially launched yesterday, joins this growing list and aims to raise money for a suite of annual cash awards supporting theatre students, young creators and outstanding performers.

Don Cole, president of the fund and Jons husband and long-time partner, unveiled the organizations website at a special event held in the Distillery District. The site, which will be adding content over the next few months, features information about Jon and a link to donate to the fund through their partner, Tides Canada. There is also a section where people can share stories about Jon.

Giving money is a poor substitute for the care and nurturing he provided over the past 35 years, Cole said to a room packed with misty-eyed friends and supporters. But its one of the things we can do to honour him and continue his work.

He believed his role as a reviewer was to encourage people to come to the theatre, while nurturing the theatre community.

Cole explained that the goal of the fund is to raise $500,000 over the next few years, which will allow it to distribute $25,000 in awards annually.

Actor Geoff Whynot, who has also been instrumental in organizing, spoke to the Funds timeline, noting that he expects the first set of prizes to be awarded in May 2019.

In the first year or two, as per Jons wishes, were going to focus on three particular awards. One to a young playwright, one to a performer and one to a student at a post-secondary theatre school.

Everyone who knew Jon knows he was full of kindness and full of grace, and that is the place from which we are working.

Cole added that depending on the health of the fund in a given year, they will try to give multiple awards to different parts of the community.

Actor Allegra Fulton also spoke to Jons long history of tireless support for independent and marginalized performers and companies from their earliest days.

The legacy fund is really a way to continue his love and his eye and his appreciation of this amazing community, said Fulton.

Today, Don, you are continuing this conversation that he had with so many of us over the years.

Actor Maev Beaty remembered how Jons support for one of her earliest productions was crucial to her artistic and professional development, adding that she hopes the fund will make a similar difference for others.

The fantastic thing about the legacy fund is that its an opportunity to take people who may feel invisible and make them feel seen. That was Jons unique and spectacular gift.

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