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PAL Canada executive director shares prestigious award with local members of Performing Arts Lodge Stratford

As published in the Stratford Beacon Herald, October 19, 2016

A major award took centre stage at the regular weekly coffee hour at the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) in Stratford on Wednesday.

Delivered by PAL Canada’s executive director Adrian Luces from Toronto, the 2016 Canadian Screen Award for distinguished charitable activities was guest of honour at a table surrounded by more than a dozen PAL members and friends.

The award was presented in recognition of PAL Canada’s ongoing work to help senior and disadvantaged members of the Canadian arts community overcome poverty, isolation and housing challenges, noted the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

“We are proud to celebrate PAL Canada and their ongoing achievements in providing our senior artists with affordable accommodation and overall well-being,” said Academy chair Martin Katz.

Presented during a gala celebration in Toronto last March, the award is currently on a cross-country tour to various PAL chapters. It’s already been to Vancouver and Ottawa. It will stay in Stratford for about two weeks, Luces said, before heading off to some of the other eight PAL chapters, including Halifax, Edmonton and Ottawa.

“It’s PAL Canada who received this award, but it really belongs to all these people who do all the work,” he said.

The Canadian Screen Awards are often described as our nation’s Oscars. They celebrate excellence in Canadian film, English-language television and digital-media productions. They are given annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

PAL Canada won the Humanitarian Award.

“I’m totally excited about this,” said Aggie Elliot, who was instrumental in the early years of the Stratford chapter. “It’s a national recognition of what we are, as an organization.”

Elliot and executive director Luces are both hopeful the honour will help spread awareness of PAL in communities across the country.

“I see it as an opportunity for us to tell other people that we got this humanitarian award because of the work we’ve done in the past, and the work that we’ve done is so important,” Luces said.

“The fact we have eight chapters across Canada is, I think, significant. It indicates that we’ve done some important things, and that we’ve spread the word that far. This award gives us the opportunity to further expand our reach into these communities and deliver our message.”

Established as a non-profit in 2002 and registered as a charitable organization in 2005, PAL Stratford has had a permanent building at 101 Brunswick St. for five residents since 2013.

In establishing a permanent location, PAL Stratford joined two other chapters in providing affordable housing for members. Others include PAL Toronto, with its nine-storey, 205-unit building on The Esplanade, and PAL Vancouver, which recently celebrated its own 10-year anniversary of an eight-storey social housing and theatre complex.

Five other chapters—each one an independent organization—are in the process of establishing permanent buildings while, like Stratford PAL, also offering support and services through the volunteer-based Supporting Cast outreach.

As the PAL Stratford website explains, Supporting Cast provides confidential support to retirement-age or ill older artists, giving assistance, for example, in accessing social services and community care while also offering help with transportation to appointments or by simply running errands.

Described as the heart of the PAL organization, Supporting Cast aims to help PAL members “lead meaningful, independent lives in their own homes,” PAL Canada says.

Elliot added that the efforts support artists of every discipline, including singers, musicians, actors, designers, directors, visual artists and crew members.

As PAL continues its mission nationwide, executive director Luces said it will pay particular attention to finding and helping senior artists who are isolated, and providing appropriate care for them. Having a prestigious golden statue on the shelf can only help raise awareness of that work.

“The award represents the dignity that we’re hopefully providing for other people,” he said.

Copyright © 2016 PAL Stratford (a chapter of PAL Canada)
Original web design and hosting donated in memory of former PAL board member Bruce Swerdfager.
Home page header images by Marg Boemer, Lynn Boehler, Amanda Ryan.
PAL Stratford logo design courtesy of Maxine Graham.