In June of 2021, the Toronto Fringe announced the New Young Reviewers Program, supported by the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund. This program feels like the perfect way to honour the legacy of Jon Kaplan and the impact he had on Fringe artists, staff, and volunteers over the years. Jon was a permanent fixture in the Fringe ecology, stewarding the careers of thousands of emerging artists, and championing the festival in his column at NOW Magazine.
Jon never missed a Fringe Festival. His promotion of the first Toronto Fringe in NOW Magazine, and his annual goal of seeing and reviewing as many Fringe shows as possible, set the reviewing standard for decades. Jon was always ready to offer constructive feedback to emerging festival artists, or cheer up tired festival staff with a smile and a hug when needed. And this support went on for nearly three decades.
The New Young Reviewers Program (previously, Teenjur Young Critics), supported by the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund, is a workshop series and writing group for emerging theatre and performance reviewers Canada-wide, ages 15 and up.
From Don Cole, President of the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund: “The Toronto Fringe for Jon was a great yearly celebration of theatre and one of his favourite times of year. He darted across the city to catch multiple shows each day, socialized in the tent, chatted with people in line to share opinions about what to see, connected with friends who were performing, and always made sure to seek out and write about the year’s best new artists and shows. We’re honoured to continue Jon’s love of the Fringe, and his legacy as a beloved arts writer, through our support of the New Young Reviewers Program.”