History of Saskatchewan Express
In 1967, to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, a very successful touring show featuring well-known Saskatchewan performers was produced. Because of the enthusiastic response, the government initiated the Saskatchewan Talent Program in the performing arts. A year-long search for talent was held in order to find Saskatchewan performers to become part of a touring show.
The program was initiated in 1974 and held on a biennial basis. Because of insufficient funds, selected artists toured on an individual basis as part of “Saskatchewan Artists on Tour” rather than as part of a touring show. The program continued in this manner for several years with the Talent Hunt concluding in a gala stage show in the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts judged by such luminaries in the entertainment world as Dinah Christie, Norman MacLaren and Tommy Banks.
SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS got on track in 1980, as a program of the Diamond Jubilee Corporation, to tour the province and celebrate the 75th anniversary of Saskatchewan. Founded by Carol Gay Bell, General Manager and Artistic Director of SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS, the group was known as “Saskatchewan’s Greatest Little Travelling Birthday Party”. In 2005, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS celebrates its 25th birthday as the only “living legacy” of the provincial 75th anniversary, still under the helm of Carol Gay Bell.
In 1983, Saskatchewan Lotteries was asked to contribute funding to the group and they have been a major supporter ever since. The group was named SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS in 1983 by a then-member of the troupe because of the association with the Lotteries. From a summer touring group, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS has grown into a major youth theatre company with a Summer Tour, Winter Tour, School Tour and December production in the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, an association that has existed for 15 years.
In 1997, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS opened a Musical Theatre Studio in Regina to educate young performers ages 5 to 19 in the performing arts and in the fall of 2000 a Musical Theatre Studio was opened in Saskatoon. There are approximately 500 students in the Studios.
SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS has been a stepping-stone into the world of professional entertainment for many former performers. You will find SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS performers on Broadway, in theatrical presentations around the world, on cruise lines, in film, television and recording. Many of the behind-the-scenes personnel are involved in theatre as well including Globe Theatre in Regina and theatres in Vancouver and Prince Albert. SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS is extremely proud that the official Saskatchewan Centennial 2005 song was written by former performer Stan Garchinski, originally from Naicam, now of Saskatoon.
In its 27-year history, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS has performed for more than two million people and traveled close to 300,000 kilometres. The troupe has proudly been a musical ambassador for Saskatchewan at major events across the country and has represented Canada at events in the United States. The group has traveled extensively in Saskatchewan and has given the people of this province a reason to be proud of our talented young people and of what we can accomplish right here in Saskatchewan.
Originally a program of the provincial government, on April 1, 1994, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS became a registered not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Directors. SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS also is a registered charitable organization.
As a non-profit cultural organization, SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS raises 65 percent of its annual budget. SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS has been fortunate to attract corporate sponsors that include Canada Life, Credit Union Central, Great West Life, London Life, Royal Bank, SGI, SaskEnergy, Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association, SaskTel and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Currently, our presenting sponsors is SaskPower and of course, our major supporter is Saskatchewan Lotteries.
SASKATCHEWAN EXPRESS is recognized across the country for the excellent entertainment if provides for people of all ages and for the committed and talented performers that have come through this organization.
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