We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Board Chair and inspiring mentor, Debra McLauchlan on October 31st. She was a true champion of the arts well beyond her work teaching in the Faculty of Education at Brock University.
Debra was a tireless advocate for the arts and the role they play in schools and life-long learning. She initiated many dynamic community-based partnerships that have linked educators with arts and heritage organizations in Niagara including Carousel Players, St. Catharines Museum and Shaw Festival.
Debra joined Carousel’s board in 2004, just as the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre officially opened a new downtown theatre in the Old Courthouse. Debra spearheaded Carousel Players’ annual Norah Morgan Award in 2005, which celebrates the contributions and achievements of elementary school teachers who have had a positive influence on the arts in Niagara schools. She was a partner in the creation of Carousel’s Artist in the Classroom and Playlinks outreach program in Ontario schools. From 2007 to 2016, Playlinks involved over 41,680 children in 2358 classroom participating in arts enrichment workshops led by professional artists. Eight years ago, McLauchlan initiated a partnership between Carousel Players and her student teachers at Brock University. With guidance from Debra, her students research and develop study guides for each of Carousel’s plays as part of their final-year project. In 2013 she was honoured by the City of St. Catharines with the Volunteer in the Arts Award.
Debra has been a thoughtful, positive force, and the arts and education communities have lost a true ally and leader.