Opportunities for Artists: Next Stage

2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival will take place in October 2024 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 

Applications for the 2024 festival are closed.


The 2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival will present a curated program of independent theatre and performing artists chosen by the Next Stage Selection Committee. The 17th annual festival will take place in late October 2024, and be presented at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, in the heart of downtown Toronto.

The 2024 Next Stage Festival will be accepting submissions from indie artists/companies based in Canada.

The selection committee commits to reserving at least 50% of production spots for artists who are Indigenous, Black, or Persons of Colour. In late 2020 The Toronto Fringe underwent an EDI Audit conducted by Where You Are Consulting. Implementing this 50% minimum guarantee is a step to directly address some of the imbalances and gaps that exist in the demographics reflected on Fringe and Canada’s stages.

  • The Festival will present both in-person and live virtual productions offered to audiences online globally. 
  • Up to 6 indie artists/companies will be selected to produce a fully staged production in rep, presented in either The Chamber (approx. capacity 140) or Cabaret (capacity up to 90)
  • Up to 6 indie artists/companies will be selected to produce a real time virtual performance experience.
  • Each company will be offered a performance run of at least 6 performances: seating capacity approx. 90-140, depending on public health guidelines. Ticket prices will be set between $18-$25.
  • There is no fee to participate in the festival; the box office will be split 70:30 in favour of the participating company (70% revenue to you, 30% retained by Toronto Fringe).
  • Applications will be considered of either fully realized productions with significant production value that are ‘ready to be picked up’ and seen by presenters and programming theatre companies OR full productions of work that is distinctly in development, or being workshopped.
  • Applications will be considered for in-person or virtual performance concepts. 


  • Next Stage offers experienced indie producers a platform to showcase theatre and performing arts creators, writers, directors, performers in order to elevate a production or artist to a next level of recognition and/or development.
  • Applicants can submit new works, reworked projects and original adaptations and remounts of productions in order to significantly advance a project’s development. Productions of licensed work by notable playwrights or of the ‘classics’ are not eligible.
  • Applicants can submit live in-person works, or virtual programming.
  • The selection jury commits to reserving at least 50% of production spots for artists who are Indigenous, Black, or Persons of Colour. Eligibility requirements must be met by the INDIVIDUAL APPLYING, unless otherwise specified. This person is referred to as the MAIN ADMIN CONTACT, and is considered by the Festival to be the primary producer of the show. They enter a binding agreement with the Festival upon acceptance of a slot. 


All selected companies will have the opportunity to apply for two rounds of grant cycles for OAC and TAC.  We highly recommend that selected companies use this extended timeline to their advantage. The selection committee timeline is planned to be able to send offers to applicants by the end of June 2023 at the latest. We advise you to not wait until then to begin to prepare a grant application, and collect required materials in the meantime.

OAC DEADLINES (applicant must be resident of Ontario)

Theatre Projects: https://www.arts.on.ca/grants/theatre-projects

  • August 3, 2023 (funding can be used within 2 years of receiving grant results)
  • February 2024 **NOTE: 2024 deadlines have not been announced yet, refer back to the OAC website regularly for more info. Application forms are usually open about 2 months before the deadline.

Dance Projects: https://www.arts.on.ca/grants/dance-projects 

  • October 5, 2023 (funding can be used within 2 years of receiving grant results)
  • March 2024 **NOTE: 2024 deadlines have not been announced yet, refer back to the OAC website regularly for more info.

Media Artists Creation Projects: https://www.arts.on.ca/grants/media-artists-creation-projects

  • October 11, 2023 (funding can be used within 2 years of receiving grant results)
  • April 2024 **NOTE: 2024 deadlines have not been announced yet, refer back to the OAC website regularly for more info.

Find out more about grants offered by OAC here: https://www.arts.on.ca/grants/activity/creating-and-presenting 

TAC DEADLINES (Applicant must be resident of Toronto)

Theatre Projects: https://torontoartscouncil.org/grant-programs/tac-grants/theatre/project-grants 

  • August 1, 2023 (funding can be used within 2 years of receiving grant results)
  • February 2024 **NOTE: 2024 deadlines have not been announced yet, refer back to the TAC website regularly for more info.

Dance Projects: https://torontoartscouncil.org/grant-programs/tac-grants/dance/project-grants 

  • August 1, 2023 (funding can be used within 2 years of receiving grant results)
  • February 2024 **NOTE: 2024 deadlines have not been announced yet, refer back to the TAC website regularly for more info.

Find out about more grants offered by TAC here: https://torontoartscouncil.org/grant-programs/discover-tac-grants/tac-grants  



Next Stage is a curated festival, programmed by a selection committee. Applications can be submitted via the festival portal, at eventotron.com. In addition to completing the application form, you will also need to provide:

  • Submission of complete script or detailed description for non-text based projects 
  • Additional support materials, if available. For example, video clips, designs, images, etc. Please include links to hosting sites (i.e. Vimeo, YouTube) where they can be viewed without having to be downloaded. If the video is private, please submit the password.
  • A proposed project budget that outlines your expected sources of revenue (including grants that you intend to apply for) and the direct costs associated with the project (artistic fees, production and technical expenses, marketing and publicity expenses, etc.) 
  • A list of full biographies for all confirmed members of your team. 

In order to help you prepare, should you be selected to participate in Next Stage 2024, the questions we ask on the form have been crafted to be similar to those that are required for OAC and TAC project grant applications.

To begin your application: 

  • In a web browser, go to www.eventotron.com and click on “Festivals” in the top left corner
  • Log in to your existing account, or create a new one.
  • In the FESTIVALS FINDER, locate 2024 NEXT STAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL and click “Apply” to begin your application. You can narrow down the festivals to select from by selecting Canada from the drop-down list.

Cost to apply: there is a $20 reading fee to apply. If this fee is a barrier, please reach out to us. 

Application deadline: Monday March 6, 2023

Note: the final deadline to apply is Wednesday March 8, 2023 by 11:59PM EDT. We are suggesting Monday March 6th as a deadline to help conceptualize a buffer for those who may benefit from assistance with planning. 

The primary applicant (referred to as the Main Admin Contact) can submit more than one application for different projects in either series. A $20 reading fee can be applied to every individual project application. Applicants will not be selected for more than one slot in the festival if they are successful.

For a step by step guide to the application process is available here.

If you require any accessibility accommodations in order to submit your application, please contact Suzanne Wilkie at suzanne@fringetoronto.com or 416-966-1062 ext. 228, and we will assist you. 

Recommended deadline to apply: Monday March 6, 2023
Final deadline to apply: EXTENDED to Sunday March 19, 2023 at 11:59PM
Selected productions will be informed by the end of June at the latest.
2024 Next Stage Festival: late October 2024

How is the festival Curated? 

Selection Committee

Each year Toronto Fringe staff invite members of Toronto’s professional performing arts community to create a selection committee to guide the curation of the Next Stage Festival, which is carried out by the Executive Director and Managing Director of the Fringe. These industry consultants are active in the sector, recognized as leaders and changemakers by our peers, and bring diverse artistic practices, lived experiences, and aesthetic influences to the process.

The selection committee for the 2024 Festival includes:

Toronto Fringe staff

  • Lucy Eveleigh, Executive Director
  • Laura Paduch, Managing Director

Industry consultants

  • Derrick Chua, independent producer 
  • Virgilia Griffith, playwright and theatre artist
  • Indrit Kasapi, Artistic Producer, Theatre Passe Muraille

Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee help Toronto Fringe select:

  • creators who are ready for the opportunities provided by this indie theatre platform; 
  • works that are diverse, relevant, strong, produce-able;
  • a series that is dynamic, and accessible.

Decision Making

While the industry consultants contribute their support and professional knowledge to endorse artists and stories which represent the breadth of Toronto’s performing arts offerings, the Toronto Fringe staff are ultimately the decision makers of which companies are presented in the festival each year. The experience, knowledge, personal and professional values of the industry consultants are deeply valued by Toronto Fringe in guiding this process and highlighting the creators for whom Next Stage is the right platform for.   

Curation Process

All submissions are assessed for:

  • The readiness of the project and its participants to take advantage of the professional opportunities offered by the festival 
  • The artistic content of the project with a view towards clarity of vision 
  • The level of potential production value
  • Viability of the project after a presentation in the festival, or perceived contribution this presentation will have to the development of the project and/or creators
  • The diversity of the creators and project members’ lived experiences 

Round 1: All submissions in each series will be divided into 5 groups randomly, with each submission read by at least two committee members in round 1. Each committee member will be assigned a group of submissions to review and score in the assessment categories before meeting to discuss all applications. This discussion session allows each member to propose the submissions they have scored highest that will advance to the second round. Discussing the applications as a group gives a more rounded understanding of the work and provides the opportunity for the committee to reconsider their initial scores.

Round 2: All submissions in this round will be read by all five committee members and independently evaluated before meeting to discuss them together. The committee will select productions that strongly align with the festival’s criteria, and which form a series that is diverse in creators, genres and artistic vision. In this stage, we are considering the work as it will be situated within the entire festival, and striving to showcase the depth and breadth of work in the sector, representing as many genres, disciplines, subject matters, and creative voices as possible. Historically the festival has programmed at least one musical, one dance piece, as well as theatre, solo storytelling, improv, comedy, and everything in between.  

2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival Selection Committee 

  • Derrick is a Filipino man, with black hair, and silver metal framed classes. He wears a grey collared shirt and smiles to the camera.

    Derrick Chua

    Derrick Chua is an award-winning theatre producer and entertainment lawyer. His most recent productions include Jake Epstein’s Boy Falls From The Sky (which originated at the Toronto Fringe and is upcoming as part of the next off-Mirvish Season at CAA Theatre), Julius Caesar (Groundling Theatre) and Mary’s Wedding (Crow’s Theatre). He is the recipient of a Dora Award, a Harold Award, Now Magazine Award as Toronto’s Best Indie Producer and Canadian Actors’ Equity Association Honorary Membership for his Outstanding Contribution to the Performing Arts.

  • Virgilia is a Black woman, with long braided black hair. She wears a white shirt, stands against a maroon backdrop and looks into the camera

    Virgilia Griffith

    Virgilia Griffith  is a Toronto based theatre artist.  Winner of the Meta Emerging Artist Award for Gas Girls written Donna Michelle St. Bernard. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore awards for Outstanding Performance for Harlem Duet written by Djanet Sears. She was also a Dora Mavor Moore nominee for Outstanding Female in an Independent  Division for her performance of Honesty directed by Jordan Tannahill and a Dora nomination for Iphigenia and the Furies ( On Taurian Land) (Saga Collectif).  Selected credits include: Our Place (Cahoots/Theatre Passe Muraille), Queen Goneril/ King Lear ( Soulpepper Theatre Company), Serving Elizabeth (Stratford Festival), 21 Black Futures (Obsidian Theatre Company/CBC Gem), Contractions (Studio 180), Guarded Girls ( Tarragon Theatre/ Greenlight Arts), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ( Soulpepper Theatre), The Wedding Party ( Crow's Theatre), Other Side of the Game (Cahoots/ Obsidian Theatre),  Da Kink In My Hair ( Theatre Calgary/ Nac), How We Are ( Mikaela Davies and Polly Phokeev Productions), Up The Garden Path ( Obsidian Theatre Company).

  • Indrit has light skin, a dark beard, and a shaved head. He wears a colour blocked tshirt and stands in front of a brick building smiling at the camera.

    Indrit Kasapi

    Born in Albania, Indrit has made Tkarón:to his home since 2000. He is the Founding Artistic Producer for lemonTree creations and Artistic Producer for Theatre Passe Muraille. lemonTree creations focuses on queer works, and Indrit has produced, acted in, choreographed and directed several critically acclaimed and award winning productions, including a national tour for MSM [men seeking men].
    As the Artistic Producer of Canada’s original alternative theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Indrit continues to develop exciting new theatrical voices while also focusing on national and international touring for the company. He’s an Acting graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, a 2018 Harold Award Winner and a 2020 Dora Nominated performer. 

  • Lucy is a white woman, with a short blond bob. She smiles into the camera, wearing a grey sweater over a purple lace top.

    Lucy Eveleigh

    Lucy is the Festival Producer at the Luminato Festival. Lucy spent 2013-2023 at the Toronto Fringe, serving as Executive Director since 2017 after joining as Managing Director. She is a treasure in the independent theatre scene in Toronto and was recently awarded a Harold Award in recognition of her contributions.

    Lucy’s vast experience in the arts and culture sector has brought her to work at SummerWorks Performance Festival, Necessary Angel, and as the Director and Founder of Zoofest, an alternative festival under the Just for Laughs umbrella. Originally from Somerset in England, Lucy worked at the Pleasance in both London and Edinburgh, one of the largest venues at the Edinburgh Fringe.

  • Laura is of mix ancestry, has shoulder length black hair. She smiles at the camera wearing a khaki green button up shirt

    Laura Paduch

    Laura (she/her) is the Managing Director, Co-lead at Toronto Fringe. She oversees the management of the organization’s work, and produces the performance festivals. She ensures policies and systems are in place for a successful organization.