Through East of Main Cafe, Project Limelight brings hope and passion to children in East Vancouver
Project Limelight’s mission is simple: to inspire children through the magic of theater and performing arts. With support from stars such as Richard Branson and Vancouver native, Cory Monteith, Project Limelight aims to stir imagination, awaken curiosity and give children the opportunity to experience the magic of applause. Bee Vancity sits down with Maureen Webb as she shares her passion, her cause, and her desire to simply give back.
How did Project Limelight begin?
A few years back, I was running a similar model on Vancouver Island called Red Room Studio; it was a for-profit business with a scholarship program. I would say that it planted the seed for Project Limelight but it wasn’t until my sister [Donalda] and I were travelling together and it got to the point where we wanted to do more to give back to the community. We are strong believers that you should be doing something you really enjoy doing. On this trip, we also decided we wanted to start a café (East of Main Cafe) and through this discussion we thought it would be great if the profits went to a theater arts program. Donalda and I both made the commitment to make this happen. Our only criteria [from the performers] was that we wanted enthusiasm, commitment and need; and we recognize that need comes in different forms.
You and your sister Donalda have a strong background in theatre arts and the film industry. How did your upbringing and background contribute to this career path?
When I was young, around grade 3, we were enrolled into a progressive school that offered electives which was unusual in the ‘60s. I picked choir because my best friend was in it but on the first day, I got kicked out because I wasn’t good enough. The teacher went around and patted students on the head to signify that were kicked out; unfortunately, I was one of those students. I had to pick another elective and I ended up choosing a drama / improv class. I was a bit of a troubled child, coming from a broken home. I had quite personality and I found a home in this class. It sparked an interest and passion and I started seeking out extra-curricular activities outside of school.
It really became my career; I was an actor, then an agent and now a casting director.
What is it like to work with your sister?
It’s fantastic. The one thing we discuss is that no matter what kind of disagreement we have, we know, we’ll survive and we will be ok. There’s no one else I trust more than her. She is a very honest person and even though she is only a few years older than me, she really took care of me when we were growing up. It probably wouldn’t have worked 20 years ago but I now have a real sense of reassurance. I have partnership I know will survive no matter what pressures we are under.
Photo by Tanya Verret
Project Limelight reflects your passion towards theatre arts and children’s rights issue and the benefit of mentorship. How did this passion come about?