Archive for April, 2013

April 12, 2013

Rainy Friday

imagesWow. Pouring – it’s been all the weather out there these past couple of days. It’s a read and think kind of day. Although I must mention first off I had the pleasure of speaking to a class at Quest Alternative School this week on career options – for some reason I assumed they were in grade nine or ten – instead they were in grades seven and eight and bright and funny and smart. Joy to talk with them I have now added  Zayn Malik to my overall knowledge of One Direction, as well as Perrie Edwards, the purple haired girl from the girl version of OD he’s apparently marrying/not marrying.
Client Updates! I’m pleased to report that I’m working with two new clients Atrium Theatre for a conceptual piece based on Max Freisch‘s Mein Name sei Gantenbein, also known as A Wilderness of Mirrors. We laughed as we realized that it was a Swiss play, performed by Russian actors, with a Canadian company, in a Canadian venue, namely the Cameron House. If people ask, “what are Canadian stories?” I’d say this is one of them. Details coming, it’s in June.

Secondly I’m working with Wordsmyth Theatre on their production of The Dumbwaiter, which is a play I’m quite familiar with. That’s in late May and June.

Rehearsals began last week for The Charge of The Expormidable Moose – I was at first read through and there are some amazing actors in that piece – looking forward to it. That’s in May as well. And don’t forget Sister Mary’s a Dyke with Cahoots, who are a delight to work with as well. And of course there’s always the Fringe, with Wiggly Dolly’s production of There’s Always You.

Busy. Not insanely cult of busy for the sake of it busy, but I am liking what my clients are doing these days, they are running the full gamut of theatre.

I saw this earlier in the week and I think it’s lovely, it makes me think of the murmur project. New York City Phone Booths to be Converted to Time Machines

And over at the Creative Trust blog/website, Jini has written a great article on data and its power to tell stories. And because I always like going waaay back to find the origin of things (see 99 Twethese) I love this article as well: A Brief History of Applause.  clapping was formalized — in Western culture, at least — in the theater. “Plaudits” (the word comes from the Latin “to strike,” and also “to explode”) were the common way of ending a play. At the close of the performance, the chief actor would yell, “Valete et plaudite!” (“Goodbye and applause!”) — thus signaling to the audience, in the subtle manner preferred by centuries of thespians, that it was time to give praise. And thus turning himself into, ostensibly, one of the world’s first human applause signs.”

Stay dry. It’s almost the weekend.

 

April 10, 2013

Social Media Rockstars?

I’m out the door today to speak to some students at Quest Alternative School – it’s career day! Looking forward to it. Then it’s a day full of meetings all over town, closing files, opening new ones and hopefully meeting a mastiff named Betty.

Didn’t want to leave you hanging, so here is an excellent and timely blog post from Rebecca Coleman, who is a West Coast me, and a friend and colleague.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I am consulting with a client, or when I’m teaching a workshop is “how can I automate my social media? I want to spend as little time as possible doing my social media marketing.”

I get it. I’m a solo parent, I run my own business, and I teach. Of all the things in my life I wish I had more of, Time is at the top of the list. There are, simply put, just never enough hours in the day.

Here’s the part you’re not going to like, though: when it comes to building a real tribe via social media, there are no shortcuts. You need to put in the time and put in the effort.  read more

April 9, 2013

Quantifying the Qualifiable

A couple of thoughts.

I can absolutely appreciate anyone who doesn’t “get” social media and its value. I look forward to helping/facilitating them to get on the path to getting it. That’s a big chunk of my job. And I absolutely love seeing the nod, the light go on, the excitement about getting it.

What do they need to do?

Be willing to try to get it.  If you are not willing to try to “get it” – you won’t. And no matter what I say, explain, demonstrate – you won’t get it. And you will leave unsatisfied, and not getting it. You’ll be irritated, I’ll feel bad. Harumph.

Why do folks sometimes not get it? Lots of reasons: they’re in unfamiliar territory, they’re not quite sure, they’ve never really used it before, you name it. All viable reasons.

And some are trapped in quantifying qualifiable experiences. A horrifying place to be, I’ve been there, because they are counting beans, and we need to come up with some new ones to count. Because counting old beans with new counting mechanisms does not work.

Which leads to a  mashup repost today from two previous posts on this sort of topic.

Two articles from quite different blogs  – Seth’s Blog and Mission Paradox – that seemingly agree on the same thing – that unanimous is not an option and the devil doesn’t need advocates. Well timed.

An article for you to read on how to convince the AD/ED/GM etc that social media does work.

And a recommendation to pick up a copy of Counting New Beans. 

Or at least google the phrase to get an idea of what it means. Image and statement from the website. Hopefully it piques your interest.

coverforweb

We make art because we believe it makes better human beings. We make art because we believe it makes being human better. So why do we spend so much energy quantifying the economics of what we do, and so little time quantifying the impact?

 

 

April 7, 2013

Sunday Roundup – April 7

rc_fluteNo rest for the weary this week as I spent yesterday afternoon at the first of four public consultations for spending priorities for the new arts funding. Online surveys and other consult dates are here. It was an interesting afternoon, with a full house and a great deal of discussion on spending and where artists and arts workers envision this new money going. I hope the responses are taken seriously by those collecting them, and thoughtfully added into the grand scheme of things. And I hope the momentum of the past year is maintained. It needs to be.

Sometimes Hearing is Believing  The Whipping Man is running for another week and I urge you to go and see it. Some wonderful work there.

About Yesterday…

Supporting the Arts in Many Ways, Legoland and Social Influences

Arts Funding, Social Media Presence, and Where We Work

Brendan Healy wrote an extremely brave letter last week. From TorontoistIt’s no secret that many of Toronto’s theatre companies have seen the numbers of paying customers coming through their doors shrink over the last few years. Companies have had to adjust in response—a process known euphemistically as “right-sizing.” But when the artistic director of one of Toronto’s most iconic companies—which Buddies In Bad Times, “the largest facility-based queer theatre company in the world,” definitely is—has to write a letter to the citizens of Toronto (theatre-going or not) expressing his surprise at low attendance for a new play from one of Canada’s most acclaimed and accomplished playwrights (Daniel MacIvor’s Arigato, Tokyo, in this instance), there’s a problem. ADs are not usually ones to admit a show, especially one they’ve directed themselves, isn’t performing up to their expectations in the box office.

TAPA has been working for quite some time on documenting and understanding these numbers. Quick article in the Globe and Mail last week –
Healy’s actions come less than a month after he attended a meeting to which the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts invited the artistic directors of some 185 professional theatre, dance and opera companies “to discuss the current climate … the current challenges.”
Details of the March 11 meeting are confidential. Nevertheless, it’s likely attendance was discussed as TAPA, established in 1979, has been gathering statistics for almost 10 years with respect to Toronto performing arts. In a brief interview Thursday, TAPA executive director Jacoba Knaapen noted that between 2005-06 and 2009-10, ticket sales to professional theatre, dance and opera performances declined by eight per cent, going to 2.3-million tickets purchased from 2.5-million.
Read more

Giving a workshop in Social Media 101 for DTRC’s Living Creatively conference. I like the setup of this one – Tierney of Tech Soup is doing the tech part, I am doing the social part. I like new formats, and am looking forward to seeing who’s there.

Off into the day. Apparently it’s spring. I wish I could see more proof of that.

OH! Was at the opening of Opera Atelier’s the Magic Flute last night – so, so beautiful. Go and see if you can. It’s an easy intro opera – populist if you will, it’s  in English and it’s  a singspiel and it’s wonderful to see so many people under the age of twenty, heck, under the age of twelve at the opera and loving it.

April 5, 2013

Arts Funding, Social Media Presence, and Where We Work

Capture

Click the image to find out just what happened.

Saturday I’m off to the first  of the four consultations about just how and where that money should be put to use.
And Sunday I’m off to give a workshop on social media at the Dancer Transition Resource Centre as part of their Living Creatively agenda.

It’s been a long week. A good and busy one, but long. Our intrepid Communications Coordinator has taken over the blog today with the post below. But first – a cartoon.

caetoon

And now may I present Lisa presenting

Sue and Lisa’s Favourite Places to Work

 The Gladstone Hotel
We love the Gladstone. The restaurant in the Melody Bar usually doesn’t open until 5pm and so we are free to grab a coffee from the cafe and take up some of the comfy space! You can find us there, typing away on our individual computers, for hours… luckily we’ve become friends with the servers.

Try the... Falafel… but don’t expect the typical meal!

CSI Cafe on Bathurst
A creative space full of contentious people. There is always a space for us to plug in at the large communal tables and work the day away.

Try the… Soup of the day. Always healthy. Always delicious.

Dark Horse
Sunny, spacious and hip… we like Darkhorse on Spadina for its feel and funky music. Have to be careful to grab a plug in when it’s free, but generally worth the trip downtown!

Try the… Three Cheese Grilled Cheese. Triple the cheese, triple the nom-nom-nom.


Tequila Bookworm
When Sue first told me to meet her at Tequila Bookworm one day at noon, I was a bit alarmed… turns out the place is a great mix between cafe and restaurant… free wifi and yummy food… don’t mind if we do!

Try the… burger any way you like it. They’ve got yummy fries too!

Cadillac Lounge
This is definitely the most ‘bar-like’ space we work in. It’s a very casual environment and a different feel from most spaces. You’ll like this if you’re in the mood for a beer while you work!

Try the… All day breakfast: Cheap and satisfying!

April 3, 2013

Supporting the Arts in Many Ways, Legoland and Social Influences

Lots going on at City Hall this week – Toronto City Council is about to vote on whether to approve $6 million in arts funding for the 2013 budget. Volcano has put together a comprehensive blog post on the number of ways you can show your support in Erupting Now.

You read that correctly –  the six million in arts funding we all celebrated? It’s not a done deal. They still have to approve it. Our work is not done, make your voice heard.

I mentioned yesterday on Facebook and Twitter that the City is  collecting feedback on what we think the funding priorities are in an online survey (click here). Given the public consultations about this begin on April 6th, I’d be inclined to fill it out prior to that.

Speaking of arts, I was at the opening night of Legoland last night, and had a great time, it’s always a treat to head over to Passe Muraille, see art, see people, and talk about art and lipstick with folks.  Legoland was a favourite of mine when it was in the 2010 Fringe, and it’s still as darkly quirkyfunny. Much fun.

From alltop.com – Social Influencers: Digital Marketing’s most overlooked and misused resource. If anyone from CDAM 101 is reading today – this infographic describes what we were talking about in last week’s social media class when we ran out of time. Enjoy!

social-influencers-infographic

April 2, 2013

About Yesterday…

April Fool’s Day. Where no news source could be taken seriously, no matter what they said. I don’t mind some April Fool’s jokes – Passe Muraille’s early Season Announcement was great. And some filled people with hope for a split second, (like the new bike lane infrastructure) only to have it dashed.

Great piece from Mission Paradox – Every day is April Fools.

And an article in the G&M Marketing tomfoolery: 9 memorable April Fools’ pranks from the ad world.

Something struck me in this article about one of the pranks:  “The company’s vice-president of brand marketing told the Today Show that they “just wanted to have fun.” Customers who try to buy the product on the site are told that they are sold out and asked for their e-mail address; the company has hinted that more news on the promotion is to come, likely with some type of discount offer to those who gave their information.”

For some reason that bugs me. You’re trying to gain addresses, friends and followers by – tricking people?

I saw another post on Facebook with a supposed contest, and you could only participate if you followed then on Twitter and/or Facebook.

I don’t know why it’s bugging me, but it does. It might be that I try to consistently flip social media to real life situations – I don’t know what I’d do about someone who “wanted” to be my friend, later owned up to tricking me into it, and then  – still wanted to be friends? Didn’t expect I’d end the friendship? Didn’t expect I’d mention this to other people? Didn’t expect I’d never want to be friends again?

Anyway. it’s my bug and there’s not more to be said about it for at least a year, right? Right.

#civildebates last night at the Theatre Centre – good crowd, good arguments for and against last night’s resolution, and you can search it on Twitter with #civildebates since they live tweeted it.

And Legoland is opening tonight at Passe Muraille and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.  Lots happening this week and it’s only Tuesday.

 

April 1, 2013

Sometimes Hearing is Believing

Brett Donahue, Sterling Jarvis whipping man photo by Keith BarkerI said a week or so ago  that I wanted to talk about how you don’t have to see it to believe it, and you definitely can react to it just by hearing.

The Whipping Man has eight shows left and you should go and see it. Brilliant piece of work. At the near very top of the show, Simon (Sterling Jarvis) performs what we’ll call a “life-saving  procedure” on Caleb (Brett Donahue). We’ll call it that so as not to spoiler, and it’s a phrase I borrowed from the NOW review.
In a movie, it would be fairly easy to just “show” the procedure being done, with closeups and CGI and special effects. Done and done. And it would be fairly horrifying – I say more gross than horrifying.

The “procedure” can’t be done in live theatre. Not that way.

Have you ever heard the business phrase “tell us what you’re going to do, do it, show us what you’ve done“? It happens here beautifully.

Instead Simon tells what will happen, in extreme detail, what will happen to Caleb if it isn’t done. And he tells John (Thomas Olajide) how they will do it.

And then they do it.

We hear about it. We see the props needed. And we hear the reaction of the three men as it happens. Lights out. And back up on Caleb recuperating.

The entire audience started squirming as we heard what would happen. And hands were at mouths when we heard how it would happen. And heads dropped and eyes averted as it allegedly happened. The event didn’t happen. But it sounded like it did and we didn’t see anything at all. But we reacted like it was happening before our eyes. Brilliant. Some wonderful acting by those three gentlemen, and brilliant direction by Philip Akin. And the emotions and actions in that scene set it so I would fully believe the inner characters of these men, and that they would act and react as to everything that happens throughout the rest of the play.
Go and hear and see for yourself. It’s really solid work by all involved.

Whipping Man photo by Keith Barker, of Brett Donahue and Sterling Jarvis.

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