Denis Simpson Fund

Supporting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

The idea for this fund came out of many internal Arts Club discussions over the last few months centred around how to best institute long-term, sustainable, systemic change. This endowment, which will help support ongoing apprenticeships, commissions, internships, and much more, will be put exclusively towards supporting the continued decolonization of the institution.

The Arts Club has committed $10,000 to the Denis Simpson Fund and we are reaching out to our community to join us with the goal of raising $20,000 by August 15.

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The Arts Club is conferring with the Human Rights Tribunal to ensure that this fund is used correctly and in a non-discriminatory manner.

To read the Arts Club's Statement of Actions, click here.

Supporting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

Denis Simpson was a wonderfully gifted actor, singer, writer, director, and choreographer. He was also a true, consummate entertainer. From Ain't Misbehavin’ to Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Denis’s unique presence graced the Arts Club’s stages for 25 years in over 20 productions.

Two of the many highlights of Denis’s career include writing, directing, and starring in his one-man show Denis Anyone? (Revue Stage, 1995–1996)—which described his experience growing up Black in Canada and earned him a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award⁠—and co-writing and directing the musical Wang Dang Doodle (Granville Island Stage, 1999–2000).

Born in Jamaica, Denis arrived in Canada at the age of 8, spending his early years in Toronto. His career began at the age of 19 when he performed in the original Canadian production of Hair at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre. His face and talent became nationally known in 1978 when he was the host of the popular children’s TV series Polka Dot Door and an original member of the a cappella singing group The Nylons. Simpson appeared on screen many times, but his love was always the theatre.

He selflessly gave his time to countless charitable activities, including raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic and supporting fundraisers to benefit the cultural community of Greater Vancouver and Canada as a whole.

Denis is an inductee of the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame. His sudden passing on October 22, 2010, deeply impacted those around him, including his fellow artists, colleagues, fans, and family.

His sister Gloria Reuben stated, "Everyone who loves Denis knows he would be thrilled and humbled that this very special fund at the Arts Club is being established in his name."