Jon Kaplan is gone, but his legacy will echo through Toronto theatres forever.
On April 28, 2017, at the age of 69, Kaplan died from cancer, with husband Don Cole by his side. He was still smiling on the day he went.
As NOW’s beloved senior theatre writer, Kaplan wrote about opera, ballet and theatre, but his passion was supporting the growth of artists. The request in his will to create a fund acknowledging the work and merit of theatre artists is a small example of his generosity.
Hence, the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund Awards were created in his honour.
“Giving money is a poor substitute for the care and nurturing he provided over the past 35 years,” Cole said at the fund’s website unveiling event last year. “But it’s one of the things we can do to honour him and continue his work.
Actor and director Geoff Whynot is a board member of the fund and had been Kaplan’s friend since 1998. “Jon was able, through his position in the community and at NOW, to nurture and support the careers of theatre makers by writing about what he saw, and also by engaging on a personal level with artists at all stages of their careers,” he says.
“Our intention is that the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund Awards will be around for a very long time, and that each year we are able to give some recognition and some money, to say to people ‘you are seen.'”
Kaplan often attended George Brown Theatre School productions to discover the next generations of theatre artists. So it’s no surprise that in the fund’s first year the recipient of the award for a Canadian theatre school student will be from George Brown.
“For decades he attended every third-year production, followed and considered the progress of the students, and was there for them as they graduated and continued out into the professional world,” says Sue Miner, coordinator at the school.
Cole, president of the fund, says, “Jon valued artists in all stages of their careers, emerging and established. He was also a strong proponent of the growing presence of diverse voices in the creation of theatre.”
THE FUND HAS THREE CATEGORIES:
– Award for a Student at a Canadian Theatre School (a different school will be chosen each year)
– Award for Canadian Stage Performer
– Award for Young Canadian Playwright
The fund is accepting submissions and nominations until April 1, and the awards will be presented at a reception on May 13.
This year the awards range from $1,000 to $2,000.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the JKLF Award, submit your application here.
“We’re continuing Jon’s legacy of encouragement to theatre artists in the best way we can by providing financial support to artists in Canadian theatre communities,” says Cole.
BY MARIANNA LOZOWSKA | NOW TORONTO