The Soulpepper Story

The Royal Comedians 01

Who we are

Located in its multi-venue home the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto's Distillery Historic District, Soulpepper is Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company. Founded and guided by artists, under the leadership of Artistic Director Albert Schultz and Executive Director Leslie Lester, Soulpepper has an integrated mission which includes: industry-leading youth outreach initiatives; the Soulpepper Academy, Canada's only multi-year paid professional training program for theatre artists of all disciplines; and a year-round diverse repertory season which is grounded in the classics and committed to the creation of new works, new forms and innovative practices.

In 1998, Soulpepper debuted a two-production summer season, with the artists undertaking all operations, including fundraising. The company's ensemble approach to artistic rigor garnered enthusiastic response from audiences, artists and critics alike. With a focus on youth outreach and artist training, Soulpepper's activities grew year-over-year to fill a vital need in Canada's largest theatre market. In 2005, Soulpepper completed a $15 million capital campaign and migrated from Harbourfront to its new home in the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. With the support of generous donors and partners, Soulpepper now operates year-round, with an annual budget of $9.5 million. This success story is unrivalled in the history of Canadian theatre.

In June of 2015 Soulpepper announced a five-year strategic initiative to expand the scope of the company’s mission to build a National Civic Theatre. To support Soulpepper’s future growth in activity and programming, the company launched a $10 million Creative Capital Campaign to foster innovative investment in artistic growth. Said Schultz, “A National Civic Theatre is a place of belonging for artists, audiences, and aspirants. We believe such an institution must deliver cultural enrichment, organizational innovation and civic engagement, and it must have the capacity to train theatre artists from the ground up. It should also strive to present an eclectic repertoire that looks to our collective cultural inheritance while focusing on the creation of original work. It should create seasons that listen to the world while focusing on our national voices, including the voices of our First Nations and the myriad cultures that have collectively defined the vibrant artistic life of this country. A National Civic Theatre needs to be committed to taking its work to national communities large and small, and to represent Canada on the world stage. It also needs to make a serious commitment to sharing its work with the nation through broadcast and digital platforms. That is what being a National Civic Theatre means to Soulpepper. Over its short history we have achieved many goals, but we still have lots of room to grow, and over the next five years we will take all of our platforms to new heights.”

What we've achieved

Since 1998, Soulpepper has built:

  • Toronto's largest artistic program, with a 12 month season of more than 600 events each year;
  • A passionate audience of over 130,000 each year;
  • A repertoire of work that has toured to 5 provinces, and been adapted for broadcast on radio, film and TV;
  • The largest employer of over 215 diverse theatre artists in Toronto;
  • A paid two-year full time residency through the Soulpepper Academy for Canadian theatre artists;
  • A robust portfolio of youth outreach and education programs, reaching over 8,500 youth annually with all programs offered free of charge, including the new 6 week Paid summer City Youth Academy; and
  • A 46,000 square foot state-of-the-art performing arts facility which anchors Toronto's Distillery Historic District.

How we fit in

Soulpepper is proud to be North America's only year-round repertory company. We are also one of the most active commissioning bodies in Canada, developing new original work, devised creations, and vital Canadian translations and adaptations. Entrepreneurial in spirit, Soulpepper's unique business model allows the company to respond to opportunities and as a result Soulpepper is singularly the most successful addition to the national theatre landscape in the last quarter-century.