Archive for January, 2013

January 16, 2013

Totsapalooza is Turning Five!

Tots-5-Poster-Draft-a-Street-Crew1I’ve been working with a great group called Small Print Toronto. From their website:

Small Print Toronto stages creative writing workshops and literary events for children and young people. Our programming is designed to inspire them to explore a vital question:  How do stories work?

Learning to tell one’s own story and to understand those of others builds self-confidence and develops intellectual curiosity.  Our programming cultivates an ongoing dialogue between professional creators and their primary audience that invites young people to participate in the diverse imaginative landscape of Toronto.

Every city is a collection of stories; we empower young people to contribute theirs.

Before I go any further – this is a brilliantly volunteer-run organization. I was at the last Totsapalooza – Mouse City Calling and it was truly a great event – stories and rock bands and the main event was about city building. Adam Vaughan was Mayor of Mouse City, he talked to the kids about what you need to build a city, and after that – they did. Using recyclables (egg cartons, milk cartons, bits and pieces of glitter and glue) – the small folks they built a city. Amazing thing to watch.

This year?

The annual celebration of the Do-It-Yourself spirit in kid culture, Totsapalooza, turns five this year. To celebrate this milestone, globally renowned visual artist and children’s author Oliver Jeffers will make an exclusive Toronto appearance at this year’s extravaganza of stories, songs, crafts and snacks, hosted by award-winning artist-author Kevin Sylvester.

After delivering multimedia presentations of his recent picture books, such as the bestsellers This Moose Belongs To Me and Stuck, Jeffers will guide the 2-to-8 set through thematically-related crafts, like making penguins that can actually fly.

Perhaps best known for his collaborations with Ron Sexsmith, Rheostatics and Bidiniband, widely acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and producer Don Kerr will unveil his solo project and perform sets of original music. (Rumour has it that Kerr is penning a song inspired by at least one of Jeffers’s beloved tales!) 

And don’t miss a special performance by tween rap poets Rhyme Stew Crew, alongside their esteemed mentors, poet Claire Caldwell and veteran rap artist Mindbender.

“Totsapalooza: A Day With Oliver Jeffers, Don Kerr & Kevin Sylvester” promises to be a landmark party for independent spirits of all ages, which is only fitting. After all, it’s not every day that you turn five.

I love working with this group. What we’re working on? Expansion of their organization – the next step. How to become not necessarily bigger, but definitely even better. We plan to make penguins that can actually fly.

I know some of you have small people – bring them out. Cheaper than a movie and far more interesting.  Advance tickets are here.

Giving a lecture-workshop-conversation event tonight for b[ART]er – from the eventbrite page – Are you an arts and culture professional looking for a social and informative gathering? b[ART]er, a bi-monthly meet-up and mixer for Toronto area arts and culture professionals will be holding its b[ART]er – Social Media Edition on January 16, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., at Weston Family Learning Centre, AGO (317 Dundas St. West) featuring guest speakers  Sue Edworthy (Sue Edworthy Arts Planning) and Ricardo McRae (Wedge 15). Very much looking forward to it – more details and RVSP link here.


All the newsletter that come into your inbox daily? Pick two – one you automatically read and one you automatically delete. Read both. Figure out three reasons you automatically read the first one. Figure out three reasons you started automatically deleting the second one. Look at your own newsletter and make sure you have the first three positives and don’t have the first three negatives.

January 15, 2013

Why This Holiday Card is Awesome

Checked the mail late last week at my former office digs – item, I am no longer at the Centre for Social Innovation, so please wipe that mailing list from your records. And there was a card from Randal at 12thirteen design. I got to work with Randal when he did the design work for Awake rounds one and two and I really love what he does (see Why This Poster is Awesome).

Here it is when you first take it out of the envelope.


You can already see where this is going. And here it is after you follow the instructions:


Love it. Why is this holiday card awesome?

Because it is a flashback to something many are familiar with – the MAD Magazine fold in. People immediately know what to do based on a previous experience, but one they haven’t had in a while, probably. Everyone I showed it to immediately started smiling, read it carefully, followed the directions and continued smiling or started to laugh.

Let’s take the awesome a step farther. Think about it. How many non-colleagues (or even colleagues) did you show a B2B holiday card to? They go up on the card wall or string or table and are kind of forgotten about – they are part of a greater display. But how many of your colleagues read it carefully, asked who it was from, did something with it, and made a positive comment about its creativity? I showed six people – three clients and three other building folks. They all did everything I said above.

When is the last time you truly interacted with a holiday card you got from a supplier? One that showcased their skills and what they can do for you?

Well played, Randal. You continue to impress.

January 13, 2013

Sunday Roundup – January 14

Before we go anywhere, a reminder that today is last call for Next Stage Festival! EIGHT shows to choose from and too nice out to stay inside, throw open the windows at the house and go see some theatre! When you get back you’ll have a freshened house and a freshened mind – to the tent with you!!
4:45 Awake 5:00 Memorial 6:30 Pitch Blond 7:15 Throne of Games
7:00 With Love and a Major Organ 8:30 Liza Live!8:45 Salt Baby 9:15 The Peace Maker
and here’s all the reviews courtesy of the fine folks at torontoist.

Meanwhile, last week…

A Team Player? Depends on the Position, Depends on the Team

Fingers Crossed for Funding,Client Stuff. Workshops and a Good Book

Money for the Arts! and Got Five?

It’s positively spring-like out there. Go do something, I won’t keep you. Happy Sunday!


January 11, 2013

Money for the Arts! and Got Five?

to quote a Facebook friend:

A red letter day for the arts!! First Moore’s announcement of $2 million for Business + the Arts’ wonderful ArtsVest program and then Rob Ford‘s astounding announcement of $22.5 million over 5 years for cultural programs and grants in Toronto, and Gary Crawford‘s motion of same passing at Executive this afternoon! BRAVO BeautifulCity, Toronto Arts Council, Culture Division and all the activists and advocates who made such cogent arguments for the billboard tax and the targets set in the Creative Capital Gains Report. Hooray and Congratulations!! I do have some questions and concerns (where is the rest of the billboard tax revenue going) but you can’t argue with that kind of dough. So for today let’s celebrate! Questions can wait til later.

and from

“This budget includes $22.5 million, over the next few years, in new funding for the Arts. This money should be used to help make Toronto an even more attractive place to live — and to invest and create jobs. It should also help engage young people across the City who find art as exciting as many kids find sports.”
Mayor Rob Ford

“I am very pleased that Toronto’s Executive Committee passed my motion to support a plan to put real dollars into a sustainable, ongoing and accountable increase to arts funding without impacting the 2013 budget. I congratulate all the hard work by the passionate, dedicated people who have waited patiently for this increase in arts funding to reach $25 per capita.”
Councillor Gary Crawford

“These funds will enable Toronto to move forward toward our goal of a $25 per capita annual expenditure on the arts. The arts sector is a major generator of economic activity, and It is especially gratifying that we can now strengthen the sector without increasing property taxes. It’s a big win for all Toronto!”
Councillor Michael Thompson, Chair of the Economic Development and Culture Committee.

“This is a real victory for the arts community who, with great passion and endless tenacity, never let the issue of fair funding for the arts community escape the notice of city council. The increased funding will help put Toronto on the global map as a creative city where the work of artists is respected and adds to our quality of life.”
Councillor Joe Mihevc

“Certain truths about what makes a Great City can transcend petty politics and prevail. The Creative Community in our great City of Toronto has prevailed and Council will begin the move towards adequate funding for a vibrant and deserving community of artists, if ever there was one. We don’t need to focus on which administration enacted this move because the engaged artists and residents who made this happen held fast to their goal across decades and multiple administrations. Congrats to Devon, to Che and ever artist who stood with them along the way.”
Councillor Shelley Carroll

“The global success of our arts and cultural institutions is a testament to the talent and drive of our artists and the prescience of the private sector to recognize the benefits of investing in the arts. Imagine what Toronto will achieve once we fulfill the decade long pledges, utilize the billboard tax for its original purpose and increase per-capita arts funding to $25.”
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

“Young artists of Toronto deserve a lot of credit for changing the way this City funds the arts. Now it’s only fair and right to invest the new resources in young artists and to continue Toronto’s role as a magnet for creative people from around the world to come to pursue a career in the arts.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan

An excellent way to end the week.

So the other day I randomly asked you “Hey,  how’s your website? All updated? Content fresh? Some sort of back and forth with readers capability? Because we’re at that point where – come on. Have a website. The days of “really expensive” and “only a pro can make you one” are long gone. Get your website in order for 2013.

internet-high-fiveFor 2013 I’m going to keep asking you questions like that. A five minute thought, or something you can do in five minutes. If you see this picture on a post, it means there’s a “got five” question or suggestion or a something quick to read in that post.  Today? Go to the contact page on your website. Is it up-to-date? Any changes? Should you add a google map or times of business?
Five minutes. Go.

January 9, 2013

Fingers Crossed for Funding,Client Stuff. Workshops and a Good Book

urlFrom the Toronto Star ARTS COMMUNITY COULD GET MORE CITY MONEY. Fingers crossed that it becomes a reality.

Second client show of the year is opening in less than a month – the first was of course Awake at Next Stage and that’s running right now. The De Chardin Project heats up February 7th and I think it’s a pretty cool piece – click here for the press release and their trailer video is below.

First workshop of the New Year is coming up on the 16th – b[ART]er Social Media Edition at the AGO. Click here for info and to RSVP.

Speaking of workshops – I’d written this article in late 2012 and when it was tweeted as a conversation with me last week I nearly fainted as I could NOT remember having booked a workshop with them. Interview with Hey Receiver this month.

Finally I’m reading (well I’ve just finished reading) a book called “The Power of Why”. It’s good, it’s thought-provoking and it’s Canadian. Today’s challenge – when you’re in the middle of doing something, ask yourself why, and see where it takes you. And like any four-year old, keep asking until you get the answer you’re looking for.


January 7, 2013

A Team Player? Depends on The Position, Depends on The Team

I’ve been thinking a lot about teams lately, mostly because I am part of many different ones, and of course seeing Sudden Death at Next Stage last week. Background on that – it’s about  hockey legend John “Rambo” Kordic and his last night. From the Hockey Hall of Fame website: “A tough right-winger who could score more than most people realized, John Kordic was relegated to the role of an enforcer in the NHL. He spent parts of seven years in the NHL with four different teams.”
Enforcer is an unofficial role in ice hockey. The term is sometimes used synonymously with “fighter”, “tough guy”, or “goon”. An enforcer’s job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition. When such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies. (wikipedia)

Anyway, that’s the background of my “team player” headspace. That’s who he was on his team. I don’t know if he liked it, I know he was good at it, I don’t know if he was happy doing it. But that’s the kind of thing I wonder about.

Who are you on your team? Excellent question to ask. I think an even better question is “what team is it, and how does that team define “team player”? The definition seems to hit either end of the spectrum – and I found a couple of interesting results.
Definition one: a team player is someone who follows the rules and never questions authority.  To one leader, it is a sign of respect if his followers obey him.  They are truly part of the “team” when they comply with the direction he has set for it.  The organization rewards team players who do not disrupt the set flow of the organizational structure the leader has established for the organization, and punishes those who fail to play as a part of the “team”.
Definition two: The leader expects that each person on the team will play a part in helping the organization set goals and see those goals become reality.  The leader is offended when someone on the team refuses to bring his or her own original ideas for the entire organization to the table for discussion or feels his or her input is not welcome. If one member on the team struggles, it affects the entire team and it becomes the entire team’s responsibility to help them.  The leader believes that each team has a leader, who must make final decisions and set ultimate vision for the organization, but  welcomes challenge to my authority if done with the intent of helping the organization succeed.  Those rewarded most with this definition are those who work hardest to help the entire organization, as well as their personal area of responsibility, achieve its goals.

I’ve been a member of both types of teams. As you can imagine, the first was not the best place for me, so much that I actually took the hackneyed phrase “is a team player” off my resume. Because based on definition one – I wasn’t a team player, I questioned, I wondered, I asked why a heck of a lot. With better answers, I would have been an excellent team player in definition one.  I realized then that my position on a team is a combination of “wonderer” and “idea pusher” (a colleague called me that a few weeks ago, and suggested I put it on my business cards. Am thinking about it). And if I can’t play that position on a team, or a variation of such, it’s probably not the right team for me.

Some 2013 thinking – what kind of team player are you? What kind of teams do you run? And how do all your players fit into it? I’m not saying definition one or two is the better one, I know which is better for me personally.  How about you? Have you found your team?

Next Stage Festival is HOPPING, great reviews for Awake as well as other shows and things have already started selling out.  Time to shake off the holidays, get a ticket and keep that resolution of “see more theatre”.

January 6, 2013

Sunday Roundup January 6th

First week of 2013 nearly complete and it’s been a good one – what went on?

2012 Round-up Part Three – Client Highlights

It’s a New Year! CharPR Prizes, Next Stage Festival and more!


It’s an Admin Kind of Day

Next Stage Festival is going incredibly well (as always) – whoever said nobody goes to theatre in January was sorely mistaken. Prove them wrong – go see something

Everyone gets back to work in earnest on Monday, so I’ve got some work to do including a script to read, trading cards to sort (more on that later) and some press releases to prep.  And blog posts to think about. Enjoy whatever you do with your lightly snowy Sunday!
January 4, 2013

It’s an Admin Kind of Day

so we all know it all begins in earnest on Monday the 7th, the swing right back into work. if you’re there this week, it is (was) a short week of sighing a lot and trying to get out from under your email, but today is the last day of that short week and we might as well use it to be productive.

My computer died on the 30th – like, it literally let out a dying scream and died. So I have a new one which is charging up as we speak. Talk about a fresh start for the new year, if I wanted to I could just forget I’d ever book marked anything and begin anew. So I’m spending today getting organized for 2013 – the Staples order came in, the computer is here, and let’s go. It’s a very back-to-school feeling about it all.

Hey,  how’s your website? All updated? Content fresh? Some sort of back and forth with readers capability? Because we’re at that point where – come on. Have a website. The days of “really expensive” and “only a pro can make you one” are long gone. Get your website in order for 2013. It’s on my to-do list today. Tomorrow I’m going to do some research on where websites go to die, and report back to you – we do a lot of one-off work in our business and – hmmm. What happens to the web stuff when a show is over?

something I’d like to see in 2013 – I’d like us to have our meetings at more independently owned coffee shops and fewer chains. A reminder that we too are local businesses.

Two AWAKE reviews are in: the Star and MoT – here’s the text of my tweet so you can read them – @StarEntertain **** for AWAKE!  @mooneyontheatre ” be sure to include Awake in your list.”  #NSTF

My office supplies are calling me.

January 3, 2013


17751_437969032925560_925273225_nThe Next Stage Festival opened last night to great fanfare with sold out shows, old and new friends and in true Fringe tradition, a packed beer tent. Extremely pleased and proud to be part of this organization and kudos to the Festival staff and volunteers.

Expect Theatre‘s AWAKE opens today. I worked on this show in its Fringe incarnation in 2011, and I’m so very very happy to be working on its new life at Next Stage.  Things have been re-staged, things have been re-written and it’s even better than it was before. Expect Theatre (or as I know them Chris-and-Laura) do remarkable work, and this show is no exception – great article in the Star linked here for your perusal. Final paragraph strikes me:

“The church setting is important,” insists Mullin. “The death of every young person in gang violence is a loss of life, opportunity and hope. We know that the life can’t be brought back, but we want our audiences to leave feeling that the hope and opportunity can be restored.

“That’s the message we feel that our play leaves them with.”

It really does. The cast are without a doubt some of the most talented folks I’ve worked with, and they bring me joy every time I walk into the rehearsal hall. It feels like coming home. We’ve had fun with marketing stuff again as you’ll see at the Festival, and the give and take again has been more give than take and I thank them for that.

Come watch this show. Come see these joyful people. Let them break your heart and then make it whole again.

To read a headline is one thing, to be given hope is another. We’ll see you at the tent.





January 2, 2013

It’s a New Year! CharPR Prizes, Next Stage Festival and more!

155885_10152385898130175_777701615_n“It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one’s will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds.” – Bridget Jones’ Diary

Before I go any further I have to let you know that the CharPR Prizes have been announced and you should visit their website to see who’s won. Go ahead, I’ll wait, it’s first day back and we’re all a little tottery. You back? HEE!! I KNOW, RIGHT?? Thanks so much Charpo!!!

You can win a backstage pass to Totsapalooza! Click here for details

Next Stage Festival opens TONIGHT! I’ve got all my shows booked – go book yours!

Okay then. Since the year-end roundup expanded into three posts – we’ll I’m pretty happy about that, and so I’ll keep today short. I’m not going to ask what your resolutions are, it’s none of my business, but I hope you succeed.

Some things I’d like to see or not see in the New Year – we’ll start with just a couple – we just got back after all.

post/tweet ownership. If there are more than one of you posting for your group, show etc – you have different tones, different writing styles. We know it’s not all one person, so can you please at least  initial them so we know who is who? Why you ask? because we know it’s s different people. Let us get to know you, who you are. If you develop a relationship with us (even one based on initials) odds increase that we’ll look for your posts. And it And it allows you to create a persona based on you, as well as the company.

fewer patently obvious auto-posts: I got a lot of tweets, posts, emails etc in the last two weeks of December that were auto posts. How did I know? Because I found it hard to believe that they were being posted by a human at the times and on the dates they were being posted.  Mostly it was the fact that it made no acknowledgement of the time of year – no matter what holiday is being celebrated, an indication that things are different this day would have gone a lot further in making me believe some thought had gone into those posts, rather than rote visit-my-website tweet links. Again, it’s tone of voice, just like the item above. Unless of course you precede each post with a warning that Harry-the-Holiday-Robot has taken over for two weeks. (Okay, that I would have LOVED).  Or put on the Best of Crane and be done with it.

I think that’s all for the moment. I have to get ready for Next Stage- the tent awaits!

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