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Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia Help Vancouver Opera Fill Critical Gap in Youth Music Education

FEBRUARY 10, 2022, VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Opera’s music education outreach programs to youth will be bolstered this year with a $50,000 grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in conjunction with Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited (SRY). This is the third year in a row Vancouver Opera has received a grant to support youth programming from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the charitable arm of the Washington Companies.

Children face daunting barriers to arts education due to widespread reductions in arts funding in schools. Financial barriers and the absence of low-cost arts programming means many children do not have the opportunity to express themselves through performing arts. This funding will help Vancouver Opera fill this critical gap by delivering a range of programs to students in grades 1 to 12, making arts education more accessible and more equitable.

Vancouver Opera’s educational programs reach students across the Lower Mainland, with some programs operating on a provincial scale. This comprehensive programming includes:

  • Vancouver Opera in Schools showcases a digital performance of our recent commission The Flight of the Hummingbird, an opera about the climate change that features Indigenous story and imagery.
  • Project Opera entrusts elementary classes with the creation of an opera.
  • Opera Lab provides resources for students and teachers to engage with the themes of professional productions.
  • The Capstone Mentorship Program connects interested grade 12 students with a mentor who is an opera professional to demystify the field and build valuable connections.

With the belief that giving all children and youth the opportunity to explore their interest and involvement in the arts is the first step to achieving greater equity and diversity among opera audiences, performers, and professionals, Vancouver Opera’s offerings create connections beyond the classroom, engaging students from diverse backgrounds with opera on their own terms. In a typical year, these programs may reach upwards of 20,000 students.

“Vancouver Opera’s education programs deliver incredible impact to students who would not otherwise have the chance to connect with the performing arts in a meaningful way,” said Tom Wright, General Director, Vancouver Opera. “This programming would not be possible without the generous support we have received from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. We are deeply grateful for this continued partnership.”

“Thank you for all that you’ve done to support me through the Capstone Mentorship Program. Without you pushing me to keep trying, I would still be scared to press record. I’m excited for what the future holds, and I hope to thank you again one day when I’m chasing my dreams. This experience has truly changed my life.” –Capstone Mentorship Program alumna

“We are proud to continue supporting Vancouver Opera’s important work to engage students and make the arts more accessible to them,” said Kyle Washington, Executive Chairman, Seaspan. “By bringing diverse opportunities to students to learn about opera and spark their creativity, Vancouver Opera is strengthening the arts and helping to enrich our communities.”

About Seaspan ULC

Seaspan is an association of Canadian companies primarily involved in coastal marine transportation, shipdocking/ship escort, ship repair and shipbuilding services in Western North America. In addition to the marine transportation services offered directly through Seaspan, commercial ferry, shipyard and bunkering services are provided via affiliate companies: Marine Petrobulk, Seaspan Ferries, Vancouver Drydock, Vancouver Shipyards and Victoria Shipyards.

About Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited

Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) is a major transporter of freight in British Columbia. Based in New Westminster, we provide businesses and customers located in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley with seamless rail connections to markets throughout North America.


About the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies, which includes Seaspan ULC and Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited. Funding for the Foundation comes primarily from personal contributions from the Washington family and annual contributions from the Washington Companies.


About Vancouver Opera

Vancouver Opera creates extraordinary experiences that engage, inspire, and entertain our community through voice, music, and theatre. Vancouver Opera is the second largest opera company in Canada. It is regarded worldwide for its fine mainstage productions; for its country-leading education programs, which have reached more than 1.6 million children and their families in more than 40 years; for its innovative and award-winning community programs; and for forging ground-breaking cross-cultural creative partnerships that have brought opera to new generations of Canadians in recent history. In

recent years, the company has intensified and broadened its role as a major creative, educational, and collaborative resource in the community.

For further information, contact

Lisa Westermark, Chief Development Officer

Vancouver Opera

T: 604 331 4838  |  C: 604 363 2450


Cherry DeGeer

Senior Manager, Communications

Seaspan ULC

C: 604 341 3703


Kris Neely, Director Corporate Affairs

Seaspan Shipyards

C: 778 689 7021