Earth Day - Payback

Earth Day Payback Logo

Would you like to raise local awareness of environmental issues?

  Are you a grass-roots environmental group that needs funding?

Looking for a unique way to celebrate Earth Day 2011 in your community?
Why not host an Earth Day - Payback Reading and Concert?

We can help you get started.


The Concept

This is an opportunity for you to host a unique and powerful performance to raise funds and environmental awareness in your community.  The author of the evening's centrepiece content is internationally renowned writer Margaret Atwood.  The show formula is simple and flexible:

WE would help you to secure permission from the author for your event, help with bringing the talent on board, and provide you with the script, graphics, promotional tools, web space, the benefit of our experience, and any assistance possible.  At this time there are no costs or fees associated with this.

YOU would sign on the local readers and musicians, get a venue, publicize the event, manage all ticket sales and funds, and stage the event.

To get a feel for what this event is all about, see our web pages for the 2010 performances in Caledon, Ontario and Burlington, Ontario.


The History

In 2008, the renowned Massey lectures were presented by Margaret Atwood.  The lectures were later published as a best-selling book entitled Payback.  Atwood's fifth and final lecture (and the final chapter of her book) includes a superb parody of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  In her version, a modern-day Scrooge encounters the Spirits of Earth Day Past, Present, and Future, learning of the issues facing the planet, and what role he plays in them.

Charles Dickens himself used do seasonal readings of his original story to raise money and awareness for the plight of those less fortunate.  This tradition was famously recreated in 1990, when veteran CBC broadcaster Judy Maddren set up Christmas Carol readings in communities across Canada, featuring local CBC personalities and other celebrities.  Over the next 20 years, these events, usually done with interspersed musical performances, raised millions of dollars for charities nationally, as well as inspiring similar readings in other countries.

A few months after the 2008 Massey lectures were first broadcast, one of these CBC community Christmas Carol fundraisers was held in Hillsburgh, Ontario.  The evening featured Paul Kennedy, the well-known host of CBC Radio's Ideas program, as well as a local actor named Andrew Welch.  Andrew had heard the lectures (on Paul's Ideas program in fact!), and came up with the idea of presenting Atwood's parody as a fund-raiser for Earth Day.  The format of the event would be essentially the same: celebrated readers and musicians presenting an entertaining evening that would serve to raise awareness of the issues facing the environment.


The Results

Ever since that first fundraiser was set for Earth Day 2009 the project has been slowly growing in popularity and support.  The text was slightly 'dramatised' to increase the engagement of the actors, superb talent came on-board, and a successful publicity strategy began to evolve.  Since the very beginning, everyone involved has generously donated their time, and a number of sponsors have kindly helped to cover the base costs of mounting the shows and getting word out.

The 2009 event was a huge success and provided a significant financial shot-in-the-arm for some local environmental groups, but more importantly it had an unexpected impact.  The attendees were NOT the usual ‘environmental’ crowd often seen at Earth Day happenings.  Instead, people came to hear the words of one of the world’s great writers, the voices of the acclaimed actors, and the music of the popular folk artists.  As a result, an awareness of the important issues raised by Ms. Atwood reached a very wide and receptive new audience.

"I attended the Earth Day performance of Payback in Caledon last year.  It
was great to hear such an action-packed environmental message delivered
in this unique way.  Atwood deals with many of the concepts we cover in
in Alternatives.  I was amazed at how much the audience picked up. 
Moreover, those in attendance were not the already converted so common at
environmental meetings.  The event appealed to a really broad market
and was highly entertaining.  It's sure to go viral!"

Nicola Ross, Executive Editor,
Alternatives Journal, Canada's national environmental magazine


The Goal

What we have here is a winning idea for making a real green difference at the local level.  Any organization (or even individual) willing to commit some time and energy can produce their own Earth Day - Payback performance in their community - meaning your community.  We would love to see Nicola Ross's prediction above come true and for the concept to 'go viral' - meaning the idea would be spread to more audiences and non-profit beneficiaries in 2011 and beyond.  If you would like to support that goal or would like more information, please contact us.

"I hope this show grows as the years go on with more showings.  It is very enjoyable!"

from our Burlington 2010 comment book

Contact Andrew Welch, organizer

Andrew Welch reads Payback
Electronic mail: 

Web address:
Postal address: 
57 Mary Street, Alton, Ontario, L7K 0E3, Canada

Copyright © 2009-10 Andrew Welch
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