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Youth organizes benefit concert to support LGBTQ+ community

January 09, 2018

Ben Bengtson / North Shore News

Grade 12 Seycove Secondary student Reese Findler is organizing a benefit concert called Perform for Pride Jan. 13 at the Deep Cove Shaw Theatre. The performance will benefit Rainbow Refugee, a Vancouver-based group that supports LGBTQ+ refugees who are seeking protection in Canada. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

Perform for Pride, organized by Reese Findler and featuring local talent performing in order to raise money for Rainbow Refugee, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., at Deep Cove Shaw Theatre, 4360 Gallant Ave., North Vancouver. Tickets ($15) and info:

Far removed from the glorified image of a wheeling-and-dealing producer – slick sunglasses, a sports car, mobile device in hand, maybe a bad tan – Reese Findler says putting together a production is rewarding, yes, but perhaps not so glamorous.

“It’s a lot of emailing,” explains the Grade 12 Seycove Secondary student.

But for Findler, who’s the president of her school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, all the emailing, hard work and stress is well worth it.

She’s putting together a benefit concert called Perform for Pride that will benefit a local organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community, a group that she and her school’s alliance are passionate about raising awareness for.

“My family’s always been super open, so I kind of grew up from a young age with that mindset, and I was never super aware as a child because of that, of the things that happen,” she tells the North Shore News.

“I homeschooled for a couple of years so I wasn’t super exposed to the public school system. Once I got into high school it’s super prevalent – homophobia – especially in the younger grades.”

Findler’s Perform for Pride concert, being mounted at Deep Cove Shaw Theatre Jan. 13, will feature a slew of talented youngsters and students from around the Lower Mainland showcasing their talents in support of a good cause.

“I’m thinking it’ll be around an hour and a half and it’ll basically just feature a whole bunch of youth from around the Lower Mainland,” she says. “The Seycove senior jazz choir is performing, we have a few Seycove students performing as well. There’s some kids from Argyle performing, there’s a girl performing who actually was in Toronto a while ago for a production there, so it’s cool to get her to perform. We have a girl dancing …”.

The list goes on. Findler has been practically run off her feet organizing her first production, but she’s found she’s been particularly well-suited for such a venture.

She says that her years spent acting, singing and being involved in theatre has helped prepared her for the challenges that come with actually working behind the scenes.

“Definitely on-the-go I’ve been learning the whole time,” she says.

Both of Findler’s parents are musicians and she says she started acting and singing from a very young age.

“I remember doing shows all throughout elementary school and I did the pantomimes in Deep Cove actually for five years. My mom always directed these youth-run productions, so she would be the adult mentor for directors. I was always involved as an actor in those productions.”

But Findler says that while her heart is always with performing she has had the urge to work behind the scenes ever since she saw other benefit gigs in action.

In New York, Findler was moved by Cabaret for a Cause, a series and group of young professionals that put on performances to benefit a charitable organization.

“After this I really started to think about how I could organize something like that, and then this summer in Seattle I went to a concert called Concert for America in July,” which benefits similarly upstanding organizations, she says.

“It was so cool to see a whole bunch of kids come together because it’s not often that you see young kids promoting that. I liked that because I’ve been an actor for a long time so I always wanted to do something more in the organizing side. I’ve always wanted to do something more behind the scenes because I had always been onstage.”

Findler’s Perform for Pride concert will benefit Rainbow Refugee, a Vancouver-based organization that supports LGBTQ+ refugees who are seeking protection in Canada due to persecution abroad because of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The goal, she says, is to sell out the 130 seats inside the Shaw Theatre.

In 2015, Seycove’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance was instrumental in getting a gender neutral washroom installed at the school in what would become a first for the North Vancouver school district.

Perform for Pride is another notch in Findler, and by extension the alliance’s, long list of advocacy work for the LGBTQ+ community.

She says she is most excited for the performance’s closing number, which will feature the Seycove senior jazz ensemble accompanied by every other performer in the show joining together in harmony.

“I think it’ll be a powerful number.”

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, your level of talent … there are ways to reach out to the community and support something that you’re passionate about,” she says.

Asked how it feels to work behind the scenes as opposed to being front and centre performing, Findler counters that she’ll be doing – and has done much more – than just procuring the venue, arranging ticket sales, promoting the event, holding auditions, in addition to directing and producing everything.

“I’m also performing – singing – as well in this benefit concert,” she says. “It’s the best of all worlds.”

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