The annual Riverdale Share concert differs from other gigs featuring Canadian artists in one crucial way: They know their audience personally.
That’s because many of the event’s performers live in the same community as their audience.
Months of preparation and communication between the Riverdale Share board and sponsors were crucial to the event’s success. Everyone except the executive director — including stage crew and administrative staff — is a volunteer. All filled critical roles to make the highly anticipated Dec. 2 concert happen.
Money raised from the event goes to non-profit charities within the community which can apply to receive grants from the Riverdale Share Association. The money raised from ticket sales and raffle tickets all go towards these grants. Last year, over $50,000 was raised.
“It’s really well-organized, and it feels really good to be supporting my community,” said communications volunteer Susan Flynn.
While the organizational aspect of the concert is important, so is booking performers for an audience to watch.
Riverdale Share did not disappoint. Among this year’s stellar line-up were Jim Cuddy, Whitehorse, Blair Packham, Kathryn Rose and Julian Taylor.
“I’m always really nervous, but I think that’s on par with the human condition,” said Taylor, who was playing the event for the third time. “With that sort of nervousness brings a wonderful inspirational excitement within us.
“Because my family is here, my daughters are growing up here, and I’ve been here for a long time, I see a lot of faces in the audience that I actually know,” he said. “And we’ve sat and broken bread together. And that’s a real wonderful thing about being human is that when you do that, you automatically become soulmates. So, I feel like when I perform here, I’m performing for my soulmates and they’re giving back that energy to me.”
It was Kathryn Rose’s first time performing at the Riverdale Share concert and, like Taylor, she was nervous and excited.
With a capacity of 1,500 at the Danforth Music Hall, “goodness knows how many of my neighbours might be in the audience, right?” she said.
As a single mother with two children and bills to pay, Rose understands the difficulties her community members face, or could face, and appreciates this concert as a way to give back to the community.
“I just think about all the families that have less than what I have, and I feel lucky all the time, so I’m just really very happy, especially at this time of year, to participate in this great concert,” said Rose, who sang Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
“I feel happy to be part of something that’s doing such amount of good, for so many people for such a long time.”
Adds Flynn, the communications volunteer, “It’s part of the fabric of living in the east end.”