Archive for May, 2013

May 15, 2013

What You’ve Got is What I Need

46178_183984895086027_1621119881_nClients sometimes wonder what I need to do my job well for their company, their show. The quick answer is I will take any info you have to share as more is better than less. The companies I’ve worked with in the past few months have helped shape this list by being amazingly nimble, quick to permit and helpful – there was a genuine sense of teamwork on getting the word out about their show. It wasn’t just my job, or just their job, it was our job.

The longer list form is, as a starter:

– your show description. In all forms, including what you said about the project in your funding proposal. Yes, I know that it’s written in grant-speak. I am fluent in that.

– names of everyone involved. Cast, crew, creative, designers, administrators. And at least one thing that makes them awesome. They must be – you’ve hired them.

– photos/images. any and all. Headshots, phone pics of rehearsals, production stills, the poster image, the outtakes of the poster image shoot – all of them as soon as possible. Bios as well please. This is the start of my collateral.

– your social media. Not necessarily the keys to the car, but I need to know how often you post things and where. It also gives me a sense of your posting aesthetic. We can talk about permissions at another time.

– a contact list, including your box office person, and your point person wherever you are rehearsing and performing

– to be on the distribution list for the dailies. To be able to stop by rehearsals.

– discussion about posters and postcards and shelter ads and print ads and program ads and who and where and what they’ll be. and then a discussion about what else we’re going to do in addition to those things

– decisions and quick turnarounds on approvals. Someone once said you either need to have a lot of time or a lot of money to do things, and odds are good we don’t have a lot of either.

– commitment to the schedule. Many folks are still under the misguided impression that social media is all whenever you feel like it whimsy. Sure it is. Those are the filler posts. What you’re not seeing is a finely tuned editorial calendar that is set to coincide with posts and tweets and e-newsletters and shares and hashtags and reviews and events and pull quotes and reciprocals and cross promos and interviews and video. It’s all intertwined. And very much planned.

– in case that one was a bit scary, I’ll add to it a sense of fun. Willingness to go a bit further than you expected. And willingness to trust. We’re all in this together.

I might come back and add this to this post at a later time when I think of more things.  I’m tired today having spent spent my evening searching for clues and maps, getting and sending texts from and to mysterious organizations, meeting an equally mysterious man in an alley way and participating in a supernatural ritual. It was an excellent night overall, made some new friends and went to bed – after I washed the blood out of my hair.
This is all to say that when Visitations remounts you need to go and see it. Rather, you need to go experience it and be prepared to play. Great work from the folks at Mission Business. I hope more folks start doing theatre like this if for no other reason than people who are not in our industry attend it.  They’ve gotten a new audience. Well done. Thanks for the experience.

Photo from Mission Business Facebook Page

May 14, 2013

A Play Reading and The Harold Awards!

harold_smallIn case you missed it, the Leafs came back last night from a 4-1 lead to be beaten in overtime by Boston 5-4. No cup for you, no cup for me, no cup for anyone. ANYWAY.

And in a very cool thing,  astronaut Chris Hadfield safely landed in Kazakhstan at 10:31pm EDT on the night of Monday, May 13, 2013.  AWESOME.

I spent the evening at a new play reading – a piece called Waiting Room by Diane Flacks. Love going to new play readings, the hope and anticipation and the feeling you get of hearing something for the first time – just the words. It’s a remarkable piece and I was quite literally laughing and crying. Go and see it when it gets produced, because it should and will be. Thanks for the invite Diane.

Harold Awards last night! Congrats to Richard Lee, Lindy Zucker, Sholem Dolgoy, Spirit Synott, Kenneth Wicks, Jim Roe, Maria Popoff, Tanisha Taitt, Patty Jarvis, Meredith Potter, Stephen Gallagher, Brad Lepp, Dave Mackay and Alexis Da Silva-Powell. What a fantastic group of folks. Sorry your night was up against Game Seven – my year was up against the federal election, so I feel your attention splitting pain.

Eleanor O’Connor received the 2nd annual Barbara Fingerote Volunteer Award, and the  Ken MacDougall Award to Mitchell Cushman.

Big congrats to you all and welcome!

May 12, 2013

Sunday Roundup – May 12

Mother’s Day! It is whatever it means to you.

Last week – posters got designed and press releases went out and the Moose charged and ideas were hatched and will be nurtured. What else?

Goodbye Galas, Outside the Arts Box and The Critic Stumbles

What Is Your Goal?

It’s Our Anniversary!

Here’s a couple bonus articles for a Sunday read:

How theatres can make everyone fight for the arts
“But the approach – which sees itself as a movement, not a campaign – is a smart way forward in more ways than one. For a start, it changes the tone of a debate that often seems stuck in the confrontational positions and slanging matches between artists and politicians of the 80s as a result of arts cuts. It repositions the debate in a place where dialogue can remain open and ongoing between those working in the arts and those running the country. The coalition will not be in power for ever, so the conversation must be with every political party, and it has to be ongoing, not just taking place when threats to funding are imminent.”


Your manifesto, your culture
“It’s easy to write something like this (hey, even the TSA has one) but it’s incredibly difficult to live one, because it requires difficult choices and the willingness to own the outcome of your actions. If you’re going to permit loopholes, wiggle room and deniability, don’t even bother.”

May 10, 2013

It’s Our Anniversary!



Thanks so much to the clients who made these two years a success, a challenge, a joy and most importantly – made art.

ACCA, Art and Lies, Art is Hard, Arts Etobicoke, Atrium Theatre, Bound to Create, Cahoots Theatre, Control Over Destiny, Creative Trust, DTRC,

Expect Theatre, fu-Gen Theatre, Gallery 1313, Harold Green Jewish Theatre, Humber College, George Brown College, bARTer,  Junes Theatre,

 Little Revolutions, Lisa Wegner, Marco Veltri, Necessary Angel, NinjaFunk Orchestra, Obsidian Theatre, OCAF, Odessey Studios, One Little Goat

Opera Atelier, PACT, Parkdale Village BIA, Pax Christie Chorale, Proud Productions, Quickening Theatre, Ryerson University,

Shannon Litzenberger DanceSheep No Wool, Small Elephant Productions, Small Print Toronto, Stratical Theatre, Theatre 20,

Wiggly Dolly Productions, Young Associates and more.

May 8, 2013

What is Your Goal?

What is your goal for this piece of art you’re about to embark upon? Not your manifesto, your mission, your mandate. What is your goal?

Is it a full house? A full cash box? An artistic statement about you or the company? Confirming your place in the X-universe? Getting the damn thing up on opening night?

What is your goal? Is it one of these things, two of these things? Three or more? We all know it’s extraordinarily important to articulate your goals before setting out.

“to put a man on the moon.”
“to discover the New World.”
“to defeat the British.”

Equally important? When all is said and done, to decide if you reached them after the fact. Did you have the full house, the full cash box, make the artistic statement, confirm your place, “get the damn thing open?”

And was it enough?

Determine your goals ahead of time, decide if you reached them and most importantly own the results afterwards.

May 6, 2013

Goodbye Galas, Outside the Arts Box and The Critic Stumbles

Beautiful weekend. Beautiful day.

Three articles last week struck me during my daily stuff to read – the first two speak to each other and are from the same publication, so that makes sense – but then I was wandering around Seth’s Blog and another one struck me as fitting into this trinity of new ways of thinking.


Why Toronto is Saying Goodbye to Galas
I came of Arts Admin age just at the edge of big galas – the silent auctions that made thousands, five hundred dollars a plate, four thousand for a table and the It girls were always there in the grand ballroom of the It Hotel. It will be interesting to see what we do differently in the future. I don’t necessarily think the old-school gala is a great tool for engagement, not only do I want your money, I want your time. And most folks are a little short on one or the other, and usually both. I’d personally enjoy the end of the silent auction. So tired of it. So little money made in most cases. So much effort. Next up,

Arts groups thinking outside the box – and way beyond the box office  The final paragraph, the whole final section, hits quite literally close to home:

The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, with 185 commercial and non-profit members in theatre, dance and opera, is exploring new strategies for survival in a volatile environment. “Toronto companies have recognized they need to embrace adaptive change, and there are many already working on it,” says Jacoba Knaapen, executive director of TAPA, noting how mobile technology is transforming the consumption of arts and culture.

Since 2011, as part of a project with Arts Research Action, a consulting group, TAPA has worked with members to explore new approaches to a range of issues, including how to attract younger, more diverse audiences. The results will be included in a report to be released next year. “There are some really deep-seated assumptions that our organizations inherited in a language that dates back to when the companies were founded 35 to 40 years ago,” observes Knaapen. “The assumptions they have inherited are part of the old way, and the old way has to change to a more adaptive model.”

In 2009-10, ticket sales for theatre, dance and opera in Toronto dropped to $132-million from $170-million in 2005-06, according to TAPA.

Grim stuff. The final piece of today’s triptych comes from Seth Godin: The Critic Stumbles. His words:
For me, the opinion of any single critic is becoming less and less meaningful as I choose what to view or engage with. And the aggregate opinion of masses of anonymous critics merely tells me that the product or content is (or isn’t) mass-friendly. I’m far more moved by the insistent recommendation of a credible, raving fan than I am the snide whispering of some people who just didn’t get it.”

You see why these articles struck me as a fit together. All talk about needing to embrace new ways of fundraising, engaging, working. Some things to think about. Many in fact – think, talk, share, engage.


May 5, 2013

Sunday Roundup – May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo y’all! The weather’s been gorgeous these past few days and I can tell by reader interactions. 🙂

Starting the Week off Right

Our Illustrious Mayor and  – no, just that.

I considered making the next day’s post  a simple instruct to read my Mayoral post again, changing the name to Stephen Harper, but there you go.

Applications for the 100, and I visit HotDocs

Announcing the Fringe Kitchen Party!

VideoCab’s War of 1812 continues to play at the Young Centre, and I strongly recommend you see it. It’s just GOOD.

And the Charge of the Expormidable Moose opens on the 10th. I’m looking forward to this one, I’ve been working with One Little Goat for a couple of months now and am extremely proud of the social media plan we’ve created and executed.

And because I’m heading towards the library today, here’s a bonus post of librarians being awesome.


May 3, 2013

Announcing the Fringe Kitchen Party!

The annual Fringe Fundraiser is upon us! Announcing the FRINGE KITCHEN PARTY!

June 13th at 6:00pm at the Centre for Social Innovation (720 Bathurst St.).
Hosted by MATT BASILE, popular FIDEL GASTRO chef and star of television’s Rebel without a Kitchen, the evening will feature a specially designed four-course meal created, shared and explained by Basile. It’s dinner – with a touch of theatre, and plenty of drinks!
At 9pm the after party begins! Bid on silent auction items, enjoy entertainment and DJ RICKY BIONIX and after dinner, hit the dance floor!

Fringe Kitchen Party: Dinner (6:00pm) (including four-course meal and drinks): $95*
Matt Basile will present each course while sharing insight about building a successful career in the food industry coming from the fringe; from his food truck to his new restaurant that recently opened on Queen St. W.

Fringe Kitchen Party: After-Hours Tickets (from 9 p.m., two drink tickets, dancing): $25

to purchase single tickets, visit
To book a table, please contact Kelly Straughan at 416.966.1062 ext 10 or

Kitchen Party Invite-page-001

May 2, 2013

Applications for the 100, and I visit HotDocs

before we go any further

he 1000

And also Dora Awards set date, hosts, new categories

Now then.

Spent yesterday at HotDocs chaperoning a class from Sir Oliver Mowat  – this is the third time I’ve gotten to spend time with these kids and I like them more and more – smart, curious, askers of good questions. Congrats again Mrs. Morton on these fine folks.
We saw Pussy Riot: a punk prayer and Crash Reel – highly recommend both of them.

Pussy Riot was more than I expected, a great deal of balance on documenting both sides of the story, particularly why the church they protesting in was so important to the community. Balance may seem to be an odd word when referring to an Orthodox priest saying that the definition of pussy is “deranged uterus”, but there you go.

I hadn’t heard of Crash Reel, it’s the story of Kevin Pearce, the snowboarder who suffered a severe brain trauma and the story of his recovery. Worth seeing.

Also worth mentioning is the overall awesomeness of the volunteers we encountered yesterday, so I hopped up to their headquarters yesterday to tell them so. Congrats HotDocs, you’ve got great people herding hundreds of students in an orderly fashion.
Into the day. I’m off to be the voice at the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards tonight, and a reminder that it’s the 9th anniversary show and sale for The Mad Craft Shoppe this weekend.

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