Inspiration and Advice from Arts Managers in Toronto, ON April 2018
CONTENTS 5 About the Project 6 Kevin Reigh 8 Naomi Campbell 9 Charles C. Smith 10 Claire Rouleau 12 Menon Dwarka 14 Elizabeth Mudenyo 16 Samantha Chianta 17 Catherine Willshire 18 Sally Lee 20 Chris McDonald 22 Kyla Ross 24 Jessa Agilo 26 Zoe Chronis Brown 28 Beth Brown 30 Tyler Greenleaf 31 Kate Cornell 32 Roxane Tracey 34 Mitchell Marcus 36 Gunta Dreifelds 37 Kelly Straughan 38 Meredith Potter 40 Amy Gottung 41 Alexandra Skoczylas 42 Gail Packwood 44 Annemieke Wade 46 Nadine Finlay 48 The Team
ABOUT THE PROJECT TO Arts Managers is a capstone project from a collective of eight learners in Humber College’s Arts Administration and Cultural Management graduate certificate program. It is a publication designed to profile arts managers at various stages of their careers working in the city of Toronto. We hope to paint a picture of Toronto’s arts community and provide a platform for culture workers to share their stories with one another. By profiling these individuals, we aim to showcase and celebrate their stories, compile advice and inspiration for other culture workers, and provide insight into career opportunities in the arts. The project originated from a desire to have more information about arts management available to students and young adults looking to enter the field. While the project has morphed and changed from its original concept our fundamental reason for producing it has remained largely the same. We wish to bring a spotlight to the people working in arts management, the jobs they do, and the paths they’ve taken to get where they are. We hope to give prospective arts managers an idea of the possibilities the field has to offer, and also provide an opportunity to support and appreciate the hard work of the diverse and talented arts managers working in Toronto today. In deciding who to feature, we strove to achieve as accurate and diverse a representation of the sector as possible, including multiple disciplines, experience levels, backgrounds, positions, and organization and employment types. Given our project’s limited timeframe this was not always possible, but it is our sincere hope that this publication is an honest representation of the wonderful arts managers working in Toronto. We would like to thank the many important and supportive individuals who have helped us bring this publication to light. First and foremost we must thank Anne Frost, our program leader, who has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance. We would also like to thank our other instructors for sharing their time and knowledge, as well as our guest speakers, program administrators, and classmates. Our families and friends have been instrumental in their support and none of this would have happened without them. We would like to thank our interviewees for sharing their time, stories, dreams, and advice with us. We must also thank our marketing partners, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, WorkInCulture, and Toronto Arts Council for their support. Thank you to our online donors: Sharon McCracken, Sam Ferens, Matthew Zwicker, Jennifer Bazar, Sébastien Bénitez, Kyla Ross, Hayley Nethersole, Tyler Greenleaf, Alexandra Skoczylas, Paulina Wiszowata, Maruta Freimuts, and Anonymous (11). This experience was incredibly rewarding for all of us and we hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
All interviews have been edited and condensed from their original format for clarity and cohesion. The views and opinions expressed in this publication belong to those interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of TO Arts Managers or any of its creators.
Community Arts Officer, Toronto Arts Council
follow up with the applicants and make sure everything is in order. Then putting together the packages that have all the applications and preparing them for the committees and juries that are going to make the decisions about who gets funded and who doesn’t. Another aspect of the role is creating those committees and juries. All the other officers at TAC have a combination of committees and juries that evaluate their grants. They provide feedback and guidance to the officers about what’s happening in your particular discipline, and have influence in shaping the portfolio in a pretty substantial way. For the community arts, the committee makes all the decisions on who gets funded and who doesn’t. Then there is the aspect of community outreach. That entails off-site meetings with artists or organizations interested in applying to your portfolio, or existing organizations, just keeping abreast of what’s happening. Leading information sessions and workshops, about grant writing, or community arts, or the TAC in general. Ultimately there are really three major chunks: 1) responding to information requests and queries; 2) managing the application and adjudication process which includes reviewing and summarizing applications plus
What got you involved in the arts? It was in many ways an accident. I went to school and I was studying film. Outside of going to class and socializing with friends, I didn’t really get involved in too many extracurriculars. At the time, the Black Students Association at Western, where I went to school and did my undergrad, put on a talent show. I decided I was going to participate, and of all things, I decided to do a one-act play. I wrote this play and ended up having to act in it. It really was a coming of age story. Through that, it whet my appetite for more creativity. I just slowly but surely got involved in writing, performing, and it’s just taken off from there. Describe what you do in a typical day in your position. Every day is really different. There are days that are heavily focused on answering queries and educating people about the ins and outs of the community arts program. During a period like this one, where I’ve had a few deadlines, there’s a lot of processing of the applications. That entails reading the applications and making a summary of each one, and if there are any issues or information is missing, you have to
convening committees and juries to evaluate them; and 3) community outreach. Depending on the time of year, you’re doing more of one versus another.
Describe a major professional accomplishment, and how you made it a success. When I was working at Unity Charity, a colleague and I put together a proposal for the Department of Canadian Heritage. It was successful and it helped fund a year of Unity programming across the country. It was at that time I think the single largest piece of funding Unity had ever received. So I was proud of that work. The other thing is as an artist, which in some ways almost feels like a former life now, I was able to put out some product. I put out an album and a volume of poetry. As an artist, you never know how well received your work is going to be, and I harbour no illusions of fame and fortune and I don’t even have those interests. But the first time receiving a royalty check, and the knowledge that people were downloading this album I created, you know it was just staggering and kind of unfathomable to me.
A lot of people are curious about what the jury and committee process looks like. Can you walk us through it? For community arts specifically, one of the things we want is someone who has a background in the field, whether it’s as an artist leading community arts projects, or working as an administrator at a community engaged organization. Another thing that we look for at the TAC is a pretty strong commitment to equity and inclusion. We look to have representation across the board. That could be ensuring that we have equitable gender representation, Indigenous artists, racialized people, LGBTQ, people with disabilities or living with mental illness. We take all those things into consideration. On juries, we try to have as much representation as possible. Every committee must have at least one Indigenous artist, and then we look to hit those other equity and inclusion markers that I mentioned.
What was your album called? It was called Ground Provisions. It’s all spoken word and some songs, a combination. It’s on Spotify! Who are some of your role models and why? My mom. There’s that saying “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”. I’ve often said life gave my mother lemons, she made lemonade but she didn’t stop there, she made pies, she made cakes, then she took the seeds and planted a lemon tree, and then you had more lemons and did more with those lemons. That’s very much how I approach my life and how I treat people and want people to treat me. It’s based on my mom’s example.
“I think there’s a recognition that the arts absolutely matter and have such a positive impact on people’s lives. That gives me some hope.” You have served on juries in the past. Did that help inform any of your grant writing, or give you some insight into that process? Absolutely. I first served on a committee for the Toronto Arts Council ten years ago, and as it turned out, it was the Community Arts Committee. At the time, the Community Arts Officer was a gentleman named Dan Yashinsky. Serving at that committee was the first time I had been exposed to the role of Community Arts officers. It was educational, because I got a better understanding of what it meant to be an arts officer. In terms of practical skills, at that time I thought I was the bee’s knees, I thought I was a pretty fantastic grant writer. But being in the committee and evaluating other applications and seeing how people were putting together their proposals and what worked and what didn’t work really strengthened my grant writing skills. I was able to take those skills into my work.
What do you see as one of the biggest challenges to the arts community in Toronto? Increased funding is something that still needs improvement. We could always use more. A big part of the role of the arts funders has been to advocate for the importance of arts. To increase the support that we receive from the government, so we can spread the financial love to artists and really support artistic creation and the careers of artists. I think there’s been improvements in that. Increasingly politicians of all stripes recognize the importance of the arts as a driver of social, cultural and economic development. There’s been some work done there but there’s also more to be done. Particularly in a city like Toronto that isn’t cheap to live in, it’s an expensive place to be. Finding new ways to support the livelihood of artists and people within the cultural sector has been and will continue to be a challenge for the future.
What do you consider your professional superpower? One, I do think I am a pretty fantastic grant writer. I think I can make a convincing argument for almost anything. But also I can create a compelling product to read. The second thing is I bring a certain level of compassion to the role. When the notices go out for the applicants, to let them know whether they were successful or not, we do provide feedback. Generally, it’s the unsuccessful applicants who call. They’re often very upset, and understandably so. Having been on both sides of the process, I understand the frustration. I’m able to bring that compassion, so when you’re dealing with someone who’s disappointed, I can absorb their frustration without taking it personally.
What makes you hopeful about the future of this community? I think there’s a recognition that the arts absolutely matter and have such a positive impact on people’s lives. That gives me some hope. But what really energizes me and inspires me is through my work here at TAC and the Community Arts portfolio, lots of the work that happens is youth focused. In my prior role at Unity, it was a youth engaged organization. I got to see firsthand what was happening for upcoming generations of artists. The kind of energy and commitments, the talent, the drive that I see from a lot of these emerging and young voices, that provides me with a lot of hope and encouragement.
day, and creating space for people to tell their stories. Those are very important skills. Learning how to be a good listener, a little bit of therapy training probably wouldn’t be a bad thing. Listening and prioritizing are very important skills. What do you see as the biggest challenge to the arts community in Toronto and in Canada? What makes you hopeful about the future of that community? I think that the cultural community is not yet truly representative of the country’s population. We need to better represent the vast array of cultural voices out there, especially Indigenous voices. And all the people who have come to live in Toronto over the last couple of hundred years. There are communities that don’t necessarily see themselves on our stages as much as they should, but that’s changing. I look around and I think, certainly over the last 20 years, the stages are not as white as they used to be, and there’s more representation of women, and there are more Indigenous stories being told. But all of that is just the beginning. We are not there yet. I do have hope because I feel like things are changing. Bit by bit things are improving.
What changes have you seen in the industry over your career? Over time there’s more and more work on our stages by Canadian artists, and more work by women artists, and people of colour, and more work by Indigenous artists, all showing up in the mainstream. I come from the independent theatre community so I feel like over time, bit by bit, we are creating more equity, but we’re not there yet. I do see change. There are more women in leadership roles, there are more people of colour in leadership roles, but by no means anywhere near enough. And most of the people that are in those leadership positions are leaders of small organizations, not large institutions.
Deputy Artistic Director, Luminato Can you walk us through your role at Luminato? At Luminato, a multi-disciplinary arts festival, I’m part of the curatorial or programming and production team. We see a lot of work, we talk to a lot of artists, we identify shows that we’re interested in, and then we put them together to create a festival that has its own narrative sense, not specifically focused on a topic, but where the works relate to each other in some fashion. I work very closely with the Artistic Director and with the Production team to make sure that we create all of the conditions whereby the festival can occur. That means getting venues, and contracts, and budgets, and then hiring people to fulfill all the tasks that need to be done in order to make it happen.
What is the single most important bit of advice you could give to aspiring arts managers? If there is somebody you think is interesting or who you think might be able to help you, no matter who they are, ask them if they would have a coffee with you. Even if it’s someone really famous or somebody you admire a great deal. Whether that’s a famous playwright or a Karen Kain, or Jully Black, or Peggy Baker. Whoever you admire and inspires you; if they live in the city, you can probably find a way to ask them to have coffee. I think more of those people would say yes than would not! In the theatre community, that’s been my experience. Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice and support.
What do you like to do outside of your work? I like to be in the country by the water. I listen to music; I see a lot of stuff even when it’s not for work. I also just like to sit in the backyard with my friends and eat good food.
Which of your traits are you most proud of? I think I have integrity. I’m not afraid to say what I think, and I think that I’m principled and try to live by good values.
What training, academic or otherwise, do you think is important for an arts manager to have? I don’t have any training in arts management specifically, I have a degree in political science. But I grew up in a very culturally active household. I will say, it would have been really good to have some accounting experience, to really understand budgets and numbers. People shouldn’t be afraid of them. I was always comfortable with math, but I wasn’t comfortable with budgets for a long time. They are your friends! Also being conscious of what’s going on in the world, being aware of the important stories of the
What did you want to be when you were a child? I always was a bit of an organizer, whether in politics or in culture, or in a household. I did lots of performing as a child in theatre and dance and music. And for a while I wanted to be a director. But I have a degree in political science because actually I wanted to be a revolutionary.
was to inspire and be inspired. So I like to inspire people and I like to be inspired. And sometimes in inspiring, you have to light a fuse under somebody or stick a tack on their seat. I cannot stand injustice. So if I see it, it’s hard for me to not say something. How do you define success? Well, it depends on what you call success. You know, our organization and my arts practice are not as stable as I would like it to be. And that is probably because it does challenge some more normative values. I’m successful in a sense that I’m doing this. I’m enjoying it, and I’m able to take on the challenges. I continue to get my work out there, more and more these days, so it’s building. It’s not about money, it’s about whether or not work is being received, and being active. What is one of the most promising areas of arts management at the moment? We’re in a real change in time, a change that’s happening across the arts ecology. Obviously pluralism is there, but artists need to be more entrepreneurial, artists need to be better administrators, artists need to network more, and collaborate more. The notions of collaboration are really important right now to the arts. Arts funders are talking about it, and arts organizations are talking about it, which is wonderful. Pluralism just rips across it all because it really is a sense that these aesthetic standards we’ve been living under for the past five hundred years are being challenged.
CHARLES C. SMITH
Founder & Executive Director, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario
What do you think keeps you grounded? Taking space. Most of my evenings I will be listening to music. Meditation practice, which is really important. Body movement practices which are really important. And walks. My wife and I go for walks to kind of get there, to share with each other, or just to walk in silence. Gardening! Gardening is very important as well.
How did you first become involved in the arts? I write poetry. I started writing poetry in my teens and then when I went to university, I picked it up in a lot of creative writing classes. I studied theatre, literature, philosophy, and political science. And I read massively. When I moved off of Staten Island and into Manhattan, I took workshops at New York University, Herbert Berghof Studio in the Village, and the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshops. I became the project editor at the New York Quarterly poetry magazine. I hung out with a really good mentor, William M. Packard, who was the editor-in-chief of the New York Quarterly, and a widely published poet.
What do you do to keep a work life-balance? I rarely do emails on weekends. I do my best not to do emails after 7 pm because I don’t want it interfering with any creative time, or personal time. I say no to projects if people ask me. These days I’ll only do a project if I really feel it’s going to engage me and it has real potential. Sometimes, if I need money, then it’s different! And that’s just working as the artist. I like getting to bed on time, having at least seven hours sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day off on the right foot? I kiss my wife. That’s the first thing I do in the morning. I then say hello to my cat because she’s undoubtedly calling me before I wake up, she’s hungry. I get the cat’s breakfast ready and I get mine ready as well. And then I have some quiet time. I just have breakfast with my coffee. I may check out what’s going on in the news, Facebook, etc., which is usually an hour or hour and a half with quiet time by myself or with the cat.
What did you want to be when you were a child? A priest. My family wanted me to be a priest. I kind of enjoyed the ritual around priesthood. I liked some of the historic stories from the Bible. But church was like any other big institution and to challenge it had several risks which I learned about the hard way. So it was time to leave. What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to the next generation of arts managers? Be open, be open, be open some more.
What do you think is your professional superpower? I’m a challenger, that’s my professional superpower. I was asked once “what is my major interest in life?” and that
CL AIRE ROULE AU Resident Artist Educator, Young People’s Theatre
program for kids who are homeschooled, some family workshops at YPT, and some Professional Development Day programming at YPT as well. A typical day, it could be four school workshops back to back, or it could be a visit to SickKids in the morning, and a visit to a shelter in the evening, and having a free afternoon. It totally depends on the day. That’s one of the things I appreciate most about the work is the variation in schedule, and the groups and people that you’re working with.
What was the first thing that really got you involved in the arts? My grandmother introduced me to all the movie musicals, like Sound of Music, Annie, and all those old ones, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked! Do you remember your first performance? When my family and I lived in Colorado Springs, I remember very specifically going to theatre camp and we got to see Oklahoma on stage, and that was really exciting.
Do you have any formal arts management training, or are you self taught? If you’re self taught, how did you develop or acquire the skills necessary for your current position? I have a degree in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University, and I have a degree in Music Theatre Performance from Sheridan College. The dream was always to somehow find a way to incorporate the two, which I’ve been slowly doing since I graduated. At Brock, I did take one arts management class, and I took several drama and education classes, but I didn’t really know that would become my focus until I graduated. All of my child care credentials essentially supported me whenever I wasn’t performing. More and more the balance has shifted so instead of having that as my backup, performance is now the thing I do if I’m not doing arts education. It’s funny how it see-sawed, but I would say my training as an
Can you walk us through what you do in your role and what a typical day looks like for you? I’m one of ten artists who are doing it throughout the year, so we’re each given a different chunk of time. Mine was a seven week contract, and throughout those seven weeks I was responsible for a variety of community programs, in-school workshops, and workshops at YPT itself. The school workshops were related to the show happening right now, The Secret Garden. I would go to the school before they saw the play, to prepare them for the content that they were going to see, and get them familiar with anything that would help them engage with the piece. I would also go for a follow up visit, to debrief about what they saw, and answer any questions. That’s one half, and the other half is community programs. I help out with story time every Tuesday at SickKids, I was doing a theatre program with a women and children’s shelter, a drama
arts educator has largely been through my own initiative. At YPT, they offer great artist educator training. They also have great inclusion training, in terms of how to best adapt programming to meet the needs of children on the autism spectrum specifically. I’m going through a phase now of really amping up my game in terms of accumulating whatever knowledge I can. I’m shadowing other educators that I know of, I’m going to Stratford in May to shadow their Head of Education so that I can get a better managerial perspective. Because it’s such a specific skill set, there’s not really any school program that is exactly what I need at this moment, to ameliorate the kinds of skills that I’m looking to collect.
when I knew, when I felt this bubbling of “oh yes, this is exactly what I want to do,” and how inspiring it is to watch these other people do it. What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager, or someone who wants to get into arts education? I would say to watch as many other teachers, facilitators, or managers as you can, because the people who are doing that work successfully are doing it successfully for a reason. Everyone has such a different approach, and there are so many amazing ideas to gain from those people. If you hear that someone has a specific skill, chase that person down and learn from them. I would also say to feed yourself creatively as well, and feed that curiosity so that your teaching is always inspired, and motivated by something.
“The most rewarding part of the job is being able to successfully engage young people in curiosity.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job, and what inspires you about the work that you do? The most rewarding part of the job is being able to successfully engage young people in curiosity. Sometimes I’ll just be bowled over when a kid will repeat something that I’ve said, in a way that demonstrates that they grasp it so completely. The shared learning is what’s most rewarding about it, and inspiring.
What made you want to get into the educational side of arts and culture? I knew that in the performing arts you often need an alternate job, and because I had that other degree [Child and Youth Studies] in my pocket, I had this whole other skill set that I wanted to put to use. Sometimes on contracts, I would work at a daycare in my off-time, or lead camps. When I moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland, I had the opportunity to co-run a childhood development centre, and this was exactly up my alley. It was designing sensory classes for really young children that incorporated music and performing arts, but also made use of my developmental knowledge. That was the tipping point, I think. That was called Seedlings, and I was able to take on a big role in designing the programming and in delivering it. That convinced me that I needed to sway my focus a little bit more.
What did you want to be when you were a child? I either wanted to be a dentist or a famous singer. Those are very different paths. Why dentist or famous singer? I have no idea why the dentist, I just remember that was my answer for a really long time. And famous singer because I was listening to Celine Dion. When you’re not working, what do you like to do? I love to read. I love activities and everyone makes fun of me because I’m not a very good “let’s go for coffee or hang out” kind of person. I love to swing dance. I swing dance socially, it’s the best! I love vintage shopping. Museums and art galleries are super fun. I really nerdily want to be learning and be engaged in something all the time. I like to structure my time.
What do you consider your professional superpower? I would say either my communications skills, or my curiosity. I think they both feed into each other. I think my training as an actor has enabled me to communicate clearly in my intentions and expectations, and engage people with whatever content we’re exploring. And curiosity because I’m always learning alongside whatever students or people I am leading, or facilitating, and I learn so much from them. It’s a constant exchange and it’s always different subject matter as well. You never get bored because there’s always something new to delve into, and new ways to approach it.
What might people be surprised to learn about you? Growing up I was extremely shy. I feel like now I’m a really sociable, communicable person, but growing up I was very, very shy for a long time, which would not work now, in any sense. Was there something that helped you combat or overcome that shyness to get to where you are now? I think it was always the performance. That was the safe space, where I could express myself, and seem to do so successfully, which is what led me to do it professionally. That played a big role in it for me.
Is there a specific moment that you have in mind when you knew that you had picked the right field of work? I have those moments all the time, and I also have the opposite. Teaching is so crazy, sometimes you think “I’m a rockstar, I’m feeling this, and I have to do this all the time,” and there are other moments where you think “oh my gosh, I can’t do this, I’m a complete failure”. Last year, I was an apprentice resident artist educator at YPT, so I wasn’t responsible solely for facilitating, but I was supporting other facilitators. As I watched them, I was able to identify aspects of their teaching that I wanted to pull from, and how I would make them my own. That was
come and help us with some stuff?” I went in and wrote a track, and I won the spot. I thought “wow, this is great. I can write and get paid a pretty decent wage”. With the chance to do that, I turned my back on my PhD studies, which was a mistake, but it was the best training I had, not only as an artist but as a business person. Just understanding the real way contracts and budgets work. When the firm closed I thought “I’m kind of back where I was when I was leaving grad school. What do I do now?” Luckily a friend of mine was teaching piano at the 92nd Street YMHA and they were starting an electronic music studio and they needed someone to set it up and run it. About eleven months later, I was offered to run this department. So in a very short space of time, I went from being a student, to a composer, to a junior support worker, to running this iconic music program in New York City, with no training and no experience, but with an aptitude to learn. What is a typical day for you? There aren’t really typical days, but the truth is that most of it is overseeing project management. There are a number of initiatives we have that may be project related, may be funding related, getting grants in on time, things like that. What you do is assess the resources you have, and you chunk out that project over time and make sure that the people you have on hand are responsible for the tasks that they should take on. You make sure things are delivered on time and the organization performs in a professional manner. The other piece is that an organization like mine has a Board, so you also have to manage upwards and understand that these are people that are giving their time.
What makes you hopeful about the arts community in Toronto? There is a gaining of self confidence. I think people are realizing we’re a great place to live and a great place to be and we should stay here. That gives me hope. People are starting to realize that there is a quality here that is worth exploring and investing in.
Executive Director, Arts Etobicoke
What’s the first thing that you do every morning to make sure you’re going to start the day off right? I used to just come in and look at all the emails that have piled up and start plowing through them. But what happens quickly, and what you tend not to realize, is that you start being a very passive employee. You start bending your energies towards other people’s requests. But the truth is that you can endlessly answer emails and you’ll actually never do any major projects or planning because you’re just looking after other people’s stuff. What I do now is really look at what’s coming up on the day, and on the week, and then I assign things to people. I try and get a bird’s eye view of things and plot my own course. I try and make sure that I organize my day according to when I’m most energetic. There’s this concept, terrible name, called ‘eating the frog,’ which is where you do the unpleasant thing first and just get it off your plate. The things that require the least amount of energy I save for later when I’m tired. But you know if you don’t subprioritize, and I’m still guilty of this, you end up taking work home and working very long hours. There’s no need to do that.
What was your first foray into the Arts? I grew up in Scarborough and at that time, Scarborough had a very robust music program. I was attending West Hill Collegiate, and I went in one day and said to my music teacher, “hey, I keep reading about this piece by this composer called Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, do you know this piece?” And she said, “well here’s the score and here’s the record, why don’t you go home and listen to this”. And I did, and this immediately made me think “oh I can do this. I think like this, and understand how this works”. She was very encouraging and made it very practical for me. By the time I applied for undergraduate school, I had a body of work that I could present to my future professors. What was your first professional experience? I went to grad school at the State University in New York at Stony Brook. I trained as a composer and then started my PhD studies. There’s a much longer story about this but the short version is some music of mine became known to an individual who owned a production company in New York. They heard my music and they said, “why don’t you
What is one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring arts managers? I think the most important skill that anyone can learn has nothing to do with reading spreadsheets or knowing cultural policy. It’s about people management. The practical stuff was fairly easy to acquire. How do you work with people in a way that gives everybody agency and support and the feeling of safety, and at the same time, allow the more dynamic voices to have more room? What do you see as one of the biggest challenges in the arts sector that Toronto, or Canada in general is facing? For me, the biggest challenge is that there’s this real pull for people to seemingly have an internationally recognizable business portfolio, as it were. So if I’m an Executive Director, I should do the same things that Executive Directors do everywhere and I should be kind of transplantable to wherever. I think the real challenge is that this city is a multicultural city, just like New York or LA or Chicago, but we have a different kind of multicultural city from any of those cities. We have different challenges, we have different global histories intersecting with us. We can’t actually claim to provide clear cultural commentary if we don’t recognize that we are a unique place. Until we do that, I think we won’t have much impact. We won’t have much relevance. If people can’t see themselves in the culture and arts around them, they’ll just feel like “why don’t I just get on the plane and go [somewhere else]?” Why not see something that no one else is doing anywhere? It doesn’t have to come from a specific ethnic community. It could be anybody who is just listening to their inner voice and feeling the environment here and making art that feels familiar.
“ r g a t s g
If you weren’t working in the arts, what would you be doing? I know exactly what I’d be doing. Through high school, I didn’t know if I could allow myself to go into the arts quite frankly, and I remember my father, when I told him, “hey, I think I want to study music”, he said, “no, you’re going to be a lawyer and your brother’s going to be a doctor”. I thought “I don’t want to do that. It’s boring”. But I always had an aptitude for science, and even as a young kid there was a lot of influence from going to space and the moonwalk. Physics was a very strong interest of mine and I really thought hard about wanting to be a scientist. Do you have a personal mantra or motto that you try to live by? My father would tell us “you’re just as anyone else, if not better”. Not that you’re better than everyone else, but that you are equal and maybe you have exceptional qualities. That has been an important thing to hold on to. There’s always people who will tell you “you don’t seem to be the kind of person who should be doing this”. To have that self trust and that awareness that you’re not starting from fifty yards, that you’re starting at the zero line, and that you’re going to move forward based on your own power, that is an important thing.
Credit: Regent Park Film Festival
ELIZABETH MUDENYO Special Projects Coordinator, Regent Park Film Festival
burn out if you make work your only focus. Make sure you’re being fulfilled. I feel more fulfilled when I’m paying attention to my craft. It’s really important to me as a human being to tap into that and not neglect that.
How did you find your current position? I came to Regent Park Film Festival as an attendee and just really admired their work. They recognize intersections like Blackness and queerness, or mental health and BIPOC communities. That is both essential and refreshing. Later in my search for more stable festival work, I approached them and was able to get a job. Then a year later I returned when funding came through from the Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter grant for Home Made Visible. After having had experience with the Festival, it was a really beautiful lining up of opportunity, availability, and interest that brought me to this position. I really like that the work centres Indigenous and racialized people.
You are working on a project called Home Made Visible. Can you explain the project and what moved you to take it on? Home Made Visible is a nationwide archival project that started in the fall of 2017. There’s a gap in Canada’s media archives of Indigenous and racialized representation. We, the Regent Park Film Festival, and our partners Charles Street Video and York University Libris, want to address that gap by digitizing home movie footage for free and adding a copy to the York University Libraries.
What do you do in your role? What is a typical day like? My typical day starts with opening Asana, a project management tool, as well as my email and Google Drive. I look at what’s due today and a couple days following. I answer pertinent emails. My work mainly consists of building relationships, communications with artists, participants and partners, sharing and collaborating with the team at RPFF, and project and event coordination. I focus on intake of home movie submissions, overseeing the artist commission, and event organizing.
“Whether it’s an artist bringing a story to life with our support, or someone being able to experience their home movie footage for free, that’s really wonderful and beautiful. Allowing people to identify with themselves, and tell their own stories and reach their communities, that’s powerful.”
What do you find most rewarding about your job? What I really like about my job is seeing the way we can provide services to others, and that we help people access things for free. Whether it’s an artist bringing a story to life with our support, or someone being able to experience their home movie footage for free, that’s really wonderful and beautiful. Allowing people to identify with themselves, and tell their own stories and reach their communities, that’s powerful. I love film festivals because they are essentially a platform for stories and a space for communities.
What do you like to do outside of work? I like going to arts events for sure but I think in the areas of networking, if you’re going to arts events, it still feels like a type of work. It’s nice to do things not related to my field. Hiking is lovely. Hanging out with my friends. Dance parties.
What do you consider your professional superpower? Being glue. I’m pretty easy to get along with and I’m also good at seeing what people bring to the table. I think I’m a good binder of bringing the right people to the right project.
Is there anything you’d like to add? I think its cool that there are all these programs in high school and university and college that teach you about arts management. Sometimes people just want to go to a party and don’t recognize the work that goes into it. People don’t really want to do the work. But those skills get things done and are totally transferable to being an artist and other fields. You get to take those skills and pair them with passion, and people who are excited about the same things as you and collaborate on making things happen.
Who are your role models, and why? My boss, Ananya Ohri is actually one of my role models. She’s pretty incredible. She’s really clear, specific, and intentional in her visions, both with Home Made Visible and the larger objectives of RPFF. She knows how to address diversity in a way that isn’t tokenizing, which I know is a struggle for a lot of arts organizations in Toronto. The Festival frames projects and discussions with a balance of community, storytelling, and accessibility. All of those things combined make for really impactful space.
What advice do you have for aspiring arts managers? Put in the time - volunteer and do placements. Request information interviews. I definitely milked that when I graduated. If there are any jobs you’re curious about, just set up an interview. People are happy to share. A lot of places hire internally, so find the right specific contact and don’t be afraid to ask directly for opportunities, or at least a meeting. Go to events. Take in what you want to do. Become part of that world, because there are benefits to being seen in the arts communities.
How do you balance being an artist and an arts administrator? I write poetry and make films; I am emerging. I write in a few different groups and work on different independent projects. If you’re an artist working in arts administration, the odds are that you’re not only doing it because you love your field, but also because of stability. It’s important to have a work/life balance, you do better at anything when you’re a whole person. Work is important but you’ll
NHL teams practice, but also seeing various level World Championship teams prepare on the ice surfaces in our facility. What are some qualities about you that allowed you to be successful in your career? For me, being organized and keeping detailed notes has been the most important quality that has allowed me to be successful. Bright sticky notes and highlighters are my preferred tools when keeping the vast amount of important paperwork and documentation I deal with organized. I also like my ability to multitask and my ability to adapt. These have helped me further my success in my career. Also, having an outgoing personality allows me to interact with potential new donors and dignitaries that may be invited for private tours. If you were to write a book about yourself or your career, what would you call it and why? I would call it The Archival Detective. In my field of work, research is a vital aspect. Sometimes I feel as though I am a detective working on a case! Finding photo matches and narrowing down a date or specific person is part of the job but can also be exhilarating.
What piece of advice or industry wisdom do you wish someone had told you before you started your career? Prepare to be adaptable to any situation as you will run into many different ones. No matter what textbook knowledge you have, real life can be very different. Be prepared for people who are passionate about their niches in life and can be very difficult to deal with.
Archivist & Collections Registrar, Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre
What training, academic or otherwise, do you think is important for an arts manager to have? All the technical knowledge gained from textbooks and training is essential, but also believing in what you’re doing is just as important as what you’ve learned. Expect the unexpected because every day can be very different.
What is your current role, and how did you get to where you are presently? At present, I am the Archivist and Collections Registrar for the Hockey Hall of Fame. I graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Honors degree majoring in History and minoring in Anthropology. I expressed an interest in working in the museum field and my archeology professor guided me towards the Museum Management and Curatorship post graduate program at Fleming College. In my final semester, I took an internship with the Hockey Hall of Fame at their Resource Centre and Archives. I began as an intern and worked my way up to my current position.
What do you like to do outside of your work? Outside of work, I enjoy going to hockey games, no surprise there! Attending weekly kickboxing classes, and spending time with my family and friends. I also love to travel and do so when the opportunity presents itself. What might people be surprised to learn about you? People might be surprised to learn that I primarily focused my undergrad study on ancient Roman and Greek history. I wanted to become an archaeologist and work in Italy. I veered off in a vastly different course but it would be my dream one day to become an Archeology Professor.
What inspires you about your job? Our archive space is immense and we all work independently. However, we are a tight knit group of people who can count on each other whenever necessary. It is very inspiring to work alongside such a knowledgeable group of hockey and history enthusiasts.
What do you think is the biggest strength of the arts and culture community? The ability to inspire people is an important part of the arts and culture community. Working in a sports museum allows us to not only reflect on the past but also inspire future generations to greater heights!
What is your favourite thing about your workspace? My favourite thing about my workspace is being surrounded by history. My office is always filled with hockey history and interesting artifacts ready to be fully documented and accessioned into the museum’s collection. I am always working on something new and it keeps the workplace interesting. Another perk is not only watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and visiting
What do you see as some of the most promising areas of arts management at the moment? I’m in education, so I might be a bit biased, but I think education, outreach, and community engagement are areas that arts organizations are beginning to recognize as essential to sustainability. With less arts education in schools, the introduction and experience of different art forms happen outside in the community. And people just want to share what they love about art! What are some qualities about you that have allowed you to be successful in your career? Probably persistence, whether or not it was the best course of action! I did Masters degrees in musicology (Paris-Sorbonne IV, Paris) and another in Communication and Culture (York University) while working several parttime and full-time jobs. I finished my second master’s degree during my time with TSMF, doing final edits to my thesis while sitting in a sound booth of a concert I was managing. I don’t necessarily suggest it, but it did allow me to get where I am now!
“You can get lots of advice, and watch people you look up to. You can think about what they are doing that sets them apart. I find that, especially in the arts, listening to other people allows you to know what they find engaging and what they like and what they want to know more about.”
Adult Programs Manager, Education and Outreach, Canadian Opera Company What is your current role like? I am the Adult Programs Manager in the Education and Outreach Department. My role is to run programming for the general public. It’s mostly free educational events or pop-up opera concerts around the city. I spend my time planning and managing the programming as well as doing music research for pre-performance chats and lectures.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about an arts management career? That’s a good question! Probably, to listen more. You can get lots of advice, and watch people you look up to. You can think about what they are doing that sets them apart. I find that, especially in the arts, listening to other people allows you to know what they find engaging and what they like and what they want to know more about. But also, on a practical, professional level, if I’m organizing a concert, and I listen to the artist who I’m trying to contract, they are probably going to tell me exactly what they need, what kind of stuff they need backstage, what they are expecting from me, and what I can expect from them. Then I don’t make as many mistakes. Listening is a good start to anything.
How did you start in the arts sector? I did a lot of work while I was in school. I started off at libraries (University of Western Ontario Music Library and the Opéra National du Rhin archives) and did a lot of teaching. Last year, I was the Festival Coordinator at the Toronto Summer Music Festival where I managed everything from artist contracts to the concerts themselves. It was really a crash course in learning everything about arts management in one summer, and a very worthwhile experience. How do you stay up to date on current events and the ever-changing sector? I try to talk to other people in the industry because they often give you an idea of what’s happening and where the arts sector is going. It doesn’t need to be the CEO of the company; it’s sometimes more useful to talk to colleagues in similar positions to yours across the arts and hearing about their projects.
When you’re not being an arts administrator, what do you like to do? When I’m not an arts administrator, I like to listen to music and read. Toronto is a good place to see concerts (COC, TSO, Tafelmusik, all of the indie companies and jazz bars… you can fill every weekend!) And I also still love playing flute, especially sight reading duets and chamber music with old friends from music school.
Credit: Naia Wang
Executive Director, CARFAC Ontario
individual working artist. For instance, the work we just participated in with the ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) and Grants Coalition ensuring that arts grants are not defined as income for individuals on ODSP. That has had an immediate impact on the ability of many artists to make art and positively impacted their financial situation. A lot of the time we get people coming around when there are problems but from time to time, people do circle back and say “we used this resource” or “thanks for that advice”. When I am out in the community and am just talking to someone, and they say “oh you’re at CARFAC, I use that fee schedule all the time”. Knowing we are out there helping people help themselves. Helping artists feel empowered. I do find that part of the job rewarding.
Can you walk us through a typical day in your role? I take a lot of meetings to advance the specific interests of CARFAC Ontario as an organization, usually related to fundraising, or programs and activities. Also a lot of meetings connected to sectoral working groups or advocacy work. I spend a chunk of the day reading stuff. There is a lot of information and reports that come across my desk. People are sharing things with me all the time. There is also grant writing, looking for opportunities, a lot of relationship-building. We also conduct a lot of troubleshooting or are consulted on issues. We have individual artists or organizations who contact us, who may or may not be members, asking for help, advice, referrals, that kind of thing. Generally my colleagues will handle a lot of those inquiries, but if it gets to the point where it needs to be escalated for whatever reason, I’m the one that will handle that. That can be quite time consuming because once it gets to me, it is often complicated. But I take that kind of work very seriously because we are often talking about people’s livelihoods. And more often than not, by the time it gets to me, it has larger implications where it’s not just about that person but it is something that can potentially affect other people at a later time.
“CARFAC Ontario would like people who are not in the arts to really feel in their bones an instinctual understanding of the value of the work that artists do.” What is something you wish people outside of the arts sector knew or understood about your organization? That CARFAC Ontario exists as a professional association for visual artists who should be accorded the same kinds of respect and rights as workers in other sectors. I would like people who are not in the arts to really feel in their bones an instinctual understanding of the value of the work that artists do. That it’s not a hobby, that it’s not because you get to do something that you are passionate about that you shouldn’t be compensated for it. To take the cultural work seriously as legitimate work that benefits society. Art is important and powerful and we need to support those people who are doing that and the kind of sacrifices that artists make to do that work.
CARFAC is committed to arts advocacy initiatives, many specifically around fair compensation for artists. One large CARFAC campaign revolves around artist resale rights. What is the goal with the artist resale right, and why is it so important? The goal of the artist resale right is to ensure artists are fairly compensated for their work when it is resold on the secondary market. Everyone is making money, wheeling and dealing in the art world, and the artist is often the last one to get paid, if at all. The ARR makes sure that there is some financial recognition of the artist’s labour; in addition to having created the piece in the first place, all the work they have done in subsequent years increases the value of their art. That work needs to be recognized. Over 90 countries around the world already have the ARR, including the EU countries and the UK, and our efforts will hopefully see Canada joining them.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager? I’ve been fortunate to work for organizations with a mandate or mission that I feel like I can stand behind. That makes it a lot easier, doing overtime, going through an Excel spreadsheet. Focus on those organizations where you can really hold your head high, where the work they are doing is something you can be proud of.
“I don’t know if every generation feels this, but I do feel like the winds of change are blowing and it’s a very challenging time. There are lots of opportunities out there for us as arts managers to do some really meaningful things and for us to be the change that we want to see.”
Do you have any final thoughts? I don’t know if every generation feels this, but I do feel like the winds of change are blowing and it’s a very challenging time. There are lots of opportunities out there for us as arts managers to do some really meaningful things and for us to be the change that we want to see. I would like to see us in the arts not trying to emulate these corporate models. I think there is an opportunity for us to look within our sector and think about what are the competitive advantages we have working with creative people. Other sectors have creative people, of course, but I believe that in the arts we can harness the unique and distinct powers of the work that we do to make larger positive change.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What inspires you about the work you do? The most rewarding part is when I see how the work we are doing directly and positively impacts the life of an
our means, that we raise as much money as we can, that we’re screening good work, and we’re giving good customer service. Recently Hot Docs announced some exciting news, that for the 2018 lineup you’ve reached gender parity in your programming. Why this is such a momentous occasion in your view, and what was the process behind the scenes to make this happen? To be totally honest, it was organic. The nice thing is, there has been over 40% representation by female directors for four years at Hot Docs, and I think last year was about 48%. We didn’t want to make the point that it was a token effort. It’s legit. There’s talent, from both genders, and it’s critical that it be showcased. Documentaries have always had strong representation by female artists and it’s only getting better, which is great for everybody. What would you consider to be your professional superpower? I’m going to say charm. You have to make people like you. When you think about the sales aspect of what I do, all the adages around sales are true. You’re selling yourself. You have to believe in your product, in this case Hot Docs. You have to get people excited about your product, or your event, or your initiative. You’re selling yourself in the good sense, not selling your soul. In terms of managing, the single most important thing to do is to leave people alone. Hire good people, give them support if, and when they need it, but otherwise stay out of their way as much as possible. Let them do their work. So much time is wasted by senior managers, in all fields, every single field I can think of, who are bad bosses. There are just so many people who don’t understand the impact and the toll that their bad management has on an organization, on its bottom line too. Your job is to figure out the level of support that each of your team members need, and give it to them. In most cases, it’s not a lot. That same rule applies to your funders. Some people are happy to write a check on an annual basis and don’t need to have face-tofaces with you. Others want to see you every six weeks, for breakfast or lunch or coffee, and your job is to figure out what level of stewardship they require, and to provide that.
Credit: Joseph Michael Howarth
President, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Was there a moment when you knew you had picked the right field of work? When I worked at the Canadian Film Centre on the old E. P. Taylor Estate, we had a swimming pool and a tennis court, and I worked in one of the smaller buildings beside the mansion, and I would giggle every time I walked from my office to the main house, and think “how on earth did I get here”. I guess it’s when I realized I was getting paid to watch movies, and to travel to international festivals. I have to say that when I, as a film graduate, when I got the keys to a cinema, that was pretty special. And of course, getting to meet filmmakers all the time is fantastic. Yup, it’s a great job.
Can you walk us through some of your responsibilities? Five years ago, I transitioned from the Executive Director to the President, which was a new position. Before, my responsibility was the entire organization: the Festival, the year-round activities, as well as the Cinema that we opened six years ago, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Five years ago, I decided that I wanted a different challenge. I was interested in a different kind of work-life balance. I didn’t necessarily want to work full time anymore. I currently work half time and I work from home. I spend a lot of time at the Cinema, and a lot of time fundraising and meeting different people and filmmakers. I no longer run the organization and festival activities, the year-round. I still report to the Board of Directors on my particular portfolio. My typical day is conference calls and screening films, I help program for the Cinema, and I help fundraise for the Cinema. We’re open all year round, every single day. I’m responsible for making sure that we live within
What do you see as the biggest challenge to the arts community in Toronto, or in Canada in general? Fundraising is always the biggest challenge but the biggest challenges are opportunities as well. Embracing cultural
diversity will offer huge benefits, but I don’t think a lot of arts and cultural organizations are there, and we at Hot Docs are only just getting there ourselves, so I’m certainly not speaking down to anybody. Making sure that your staff, your senior management, your Board, your curators, in our case, reflect and represent the communities in which we live and work. So they’re as diverse as those communities. The benefits of doing that have been documented and are universal. The more diverse you are, the stronger you are. Those aren’t just platitudes. Your audience will grow as your composition grows. I heard a great expression that has stuck with me, from a talk I went to a year ago, I believe it was the Commissioner of Cultural Institutions in New York City. He said if you treat the achieving of diversity within your organization as a crisis, you will achieve it in five years. And if you don’t treat it like a crisis, it will never happen. You have to be very proactive, and aggressive, about ensuring that your organization reflects the community that surrounds you. What is the most rewarding part of your job, and what has inspired you to keep going? About six or seven years ago, we really took a step back and asked ourselves “what can we do to help our core constituents, filmmakers?” This would be activities beyond the festival that we run each year, and the market events and all the buyers we bring in. Filmmakers, what do they need? Funds. They need money. They need the financial support to make their films. We started to approach the private sector and have now raised well over 10 million dollars that we have provided in grants to over 250 films from around the world, Canadian and international. That to me is very personally rewarding. It’s a newer initiative in my time at Hot Docs. I think we end up benefiting just as much as those filmmakers. It becomes another pillar of our organizational strength, and it’s a fascinating part of our narrative and the Hot Docs story. The Hot Docs ethos, we’ve been careful, that as we grew, and as we opened a Cinema, we were still listening to the audience as well as filmmakers and our other constituents. That’s one that I’m particularly proud of. Is there anything else you’d like to add? I would just encourage people, students or younger people in the business, to reach out to people, ask for their advice. Don’t be shy. All we may do is say no. Ask for information meetings, coffee dates, or whatever, and expand your network that way. But it never hurts to ask. That stuff is scary, I totally understand, but people of a certain age really do enjoy mentoring. Don’t assume that people don’t want to help. Take on as many mentors as you can. Be a mentor to as many people as you can. Our organizational philosophy has been, for a long time, to share our best practices with as many people and other organizations as we can. We always end up learning as much, if not more from them as I think they do from us. It makes our organization stronger, I think, and it’s part of our ethos, to be a good sister organization.
KYL A ROSS
Former Curriculum Manager, Mural Routes about them, but they’re there and they’re doing the necessary work to keep this industry running.
How did you first become involved in the arts? As a child, my parents were always supportive, and I’ve always been artistically inclined. I took everything as a kid: visual arts classes, dance classes, theatre, vocal lessons, and I played piano. In high school, I got more serious about my visual arts interests. I decided that I was going to apply to the Ontario College of Art and Design for a degree in drawing and painting. At that young stage, I never expected that I would be more of an administrative type. After I finished at OCAD, I ended up getting a job at Seneca College as an administrative support and I really enjoyed it. They let me do a lot of creative things even though I wasn’t working in a creative department at all. At some point, I realized my passion really lay in just being surrounded by creative people, seeing them succeed, and feeling like I contributed to their success.
Who would you consider to be some of your role models? Right away, I thought about my mom. I know some people have role models who they don’t know like figureheads or celebrities, but for me, I’ve never really thought of anyone that I didn’t know as my role model. My mom is a very committed and dedicated person. She worked full time all throughout my childhood and I’m a mother so now I know how difficult it is to maintain a career and be a good parent.
“At some point, I realized my passion really lay in just being surrounded by creative people, seeing them succeed, and feeling like I contributed to their success.”
How do you explain what you do for a living to people outside the arts industry? I had a harder time explaining it when I was still in the Arts Administration program at Humber. I would say I’m studying arts administration and cultural management and people would say “what are you going to do with that?” Any cultural institution that you’ve ever attended, or visited, or interacted with, they are run by administrators. There are always people on the back end that are doing the work to make that organization exist and to provide artists with the opportunity to make art. Nobody thinks
What are the challenges of being a working mother in this industry? For me, as a mother of a young child, it’s really difficult, because I find that there are very few people working in this industry who are early in their career that are also
parents. What I find really difficult is staying on top of the curve and knowing who’s who in the industry. Our industry is really about personal relationships, and knowing who is out there, and who works for what organization. People recognizing your face and your name at the end of the day. I have colleagues that seem to know everyone and I just sit back and think “how do you know who this person is, just by their name?” Or if I say, Toronto Arts Foundation, and you immediately know who their Programming Director is. How do you know that?
but I also do marketing, graphic design, fundraising; I’m doing everything. Anybody taking an arts administration program like I did, they already know that. You’re not doing it for money, you’re not doing it because you think it’s a good job to have, you’re doing it because you love it. It doesn’t really matter how much pressure there is, or how many hats you have to wear or what responsibilities you have, all that matters is when you go to work and you go home at night that you feel fulfilled and that you did a good job.
It’s because they’re getting out there and going to these events and being active in the community. It’s really difficult for a person with a small child at home, in my mid-thirties, who has a house, and a second job, to do that. I really personally struggle with maintaining that side. As much as I would love to be volunteering for all kinds of different events and attending openings or shows, or even just taking workshops, I don’t have the time for it, I don’t have the luxury. That’s what’s difficult for me. I try to capitalize on any opportunities that come my way that are during working hours. You have to consider that making personal connections with other people in the industry, in other organizations, it really matters.
“You’re not doing it for money, you’re not doing it because you think it’s a good job to have, you’re doing it because you love it. It doesn’t really matter how much pressure there is, or how many hats you have to wear or what responsibilities you have, all that matters is when you go to work and you go home at night that you feel fulfilled and that you did a good job.”
What do you think is your professional superpower? I’m really good at giving presentations and I think that’s because I come across as genuine and honest, and I want people to feel as if I’m talking to them and not at them. I’m also really good at asking for money and getting free stuff, which in this sector is definitely a superpower. A lot of people feel uncomfortable asking for free things, or asking for donations, and I’m totally comfortable with that. I actually get a thrill out of it. I like to bargain, I like to barter, I like to trade, and I like to ask for free stuff. I’ll spend the extra time going above and beyond my job description but I enjoy doing it and I know I’m good at it and nobody else wants to do it. The trick is you have to be able to identify which companies out there have it in their mandate to support local community initiatives. I know I can target these companies and capitalize on that. You need to understand how to demonstrate reciprocal benefits. If I can demonstrate to another small business that it is going to benefit them by donating to us, it’s a win-win.
How do you balance your artistic practice and administrative career? I think that it’s challenging for both types of people. You may find it a challenge because you don’t have an artistic practice of your own, and I have one, but I feel like it suffers. I struggle to see where I can stop being creative and I have to just really focus on being logical and organized. I was always very right brained and so I think that’s been a challenge for me as an artist, balancing both sides of my brain and knowing when I can use the creative side and when I really need to use my logical and analytic side. I think that’s a challenge for any arts administrator who is also a practicing artist. That’s a very difficult balance. I do feel my artistic career suffers because sometimes I become too focused on the administrative side and I’m not being creative enough for my own artistic growth and also my own spiritual satisfaction. I have to stop myself to say: “Kyla, turn off your brain and go make something now”.
What is some advice you wish you had received at the start of your arts administration career? There was advice that I did receive at the start of my arts admin career that I’m glad I got. One was don’t expect to make too much money and that definitely proved to be true. I hesitate to answer this question because I don’t want to intimidate anyone, but from my experience and speaking with others in the industry, there’s a lot of pressure put on people in this sector. I think it’s good to be prepared for that and also to know if you’re that kind of person and can handle pressure. Funders expect a lot, usually more than they give, and you’re wearing so many hats and a lot of people are relying on you to achieve. There can be a lot of pressure to handle multiple responsibilities at a time. My job is supposed to be designing and programming workshops specific to mural art, and working with facilitators to develop curriculum,
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you? I have a side business called The Chalk Fairy and I produce chalk art for businesses, weddings, events, all kinds of different venues. Follow Kyla on Instagram @chalk_fairy.
Founder, President, and CEO of ArtsPond For people who aren’t familiar with what ArtsPond does, can you give us an overview of what you’re trying to accomplish? The mandate of ArtsPond is to encourage cross-sectoral collaborations that address the deepening social and economic barriers of vulnerable arts and culture workers in a rapidly changing world, on-the-ground and in-thecloud. In 2014, we started out trying to become a national, multidisciplinary Shared Charitable Platform. We wanted to share the benefits of charitable, non-profit structures, charitable governance, and charitable giving (i.e., tax receipt benefits) with small, economically precarious artists and organizations seeking ways to diversify their private sector support without having to establish a charity of their own. Incorporating and maintaining a charity can be very time consuming and expensive. Unfortunately, there are still many legal and other logistical barriers that need to be addressed before these types of platforms will have a chance to operate and scale sustainably. As an alternative, we are now pursuing two cross-sectoral interventions: Groundstory is a ten year collective impact effort to address the effects of gentrification on the arts in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. DigitalASO is a five-year initiative seeking to leverage the transformation of Canada’s arts services to better respond to the digital world. Both of these initiatives bring arts, technology, business, non-profit, philanthropy, and government leaders together to collectively pursue positive, whole systems change that would not be possible on our own.
Can you walk us through what your role is? I see myself as a kind of ‘rabble-rouser’ for the arts community. I am the founder of a young arts services startup, that is striving to enable multidisciplinary arts and culture workers to better share, learn from, and collaborate together for the benefit of all. While every day is different, the one thing that happens each day, is connecting with people from diverse communities to learn from their experiences and to invite them to embrace the vision and mandate of what we’re trying to accomplish. This work involves a great deal of research, cold-calling, and inviting people to step out of their comfort zones. I do a tremendous amount of strategic planning, proposal writing, budgeting, graphic and web design, and mentoring of the next generation of arts managers that I trust will be able to push the impact of this kind of work further well after I am gone. How did you develop your arts management skills? I completed my post-graduate studies in music in the mid 1990s with literally no training on how to make money or promote a life-long career as a manager of my own work. I had to learn by doing, including a fair amount of trial and error. My predilection as a perfectionist helped more than hindered in the early years as I would put in the extra hours to get it all just right. After a decade as a volunteer board member in the arts and as a queer/transgender activist producing local and international festivals and conferences, I decided to go to business school and
complete a year-long post-graduate certificate in arts management at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business. While I have a great deal of formal education, I have learned so much more by working oneon-one with artists and successfully making it through the day-to-day every day.
models because they keep moving and never stop or give up. In most cases they have founded their own companies with next to no money and only their bodies and hearts to sustain them. Dance and community-engaged artists are the most undervalued, lowest paid artists of any discipline. They are, however, some of the most creative and caring individuals that I have had the pleasure to work with. They are also the most collaborative by default and have taught me so much about how to listen to and honour the perspectives of the individual and collective with intent and purpose. From these values, I have established ArtsPond where the intent to collaborate and share is the starting point of every interaction, and not the exception.
You have a lot on your plate, a lot of goals that you’re working towards. What do you do each day to start the day off on the right foot? I am an early riser, and late to bed, too. I start every day by reading for an hour and then exercising for as long as I can muster (not long – my younger self would cringe!) While I would love to spend time reading more fiction and poetry, non-fiction books from biographies to academic research get my professional brain flowing. When I arrive at my desk to start work, I try to make two lists: what do I need to do and conversely, what do I want to do today? ‘Needs’ are immediate, short-term necessities. ‘Wants’ are more forward-looking or reflective questions such as where am I, my organization, and my community going? What gaps in learning do I have? What fun things do I want to try? What problems do I see in the road ahead? I try to spend an hour on that every morning, thinking on the longer-term before diving head-on into the onslaught of the day-to-day.
What is something that someone would be surprised to learn about you? I see myself as a bit of a black sheep in the arts community. I talk in ways and hope for things that others in the community find a bit daunting or scary; not in their perceived value, but in the risks, workload, and systems change required to achieve them. I still love doing things that actually have nothing to do with art at all. Art is definitely the core of who I am, but it’s not the only thing. Prior to becoming an arts manager full-time, I worked for an organic gardening company and spent my off hours tending my own 60 x 20-foot vegetable garden where broccoli, blueberry and basil were my favourites! I am also a bit of a policy and politics nut. I have worked in a law firm and have pondered pursuing political office more than once as I age.
“We can all live better if the arts community can share better. In a few generations the trickle-down effect will be a much more engaged, connected community.”
Can you describe a professional accomplishment that you have achieved and how you made it a success? I think my recent successes are asking questions that other people have been afraid to ask in an effort to cultivate a more collaborative environment in our industry. I was built up in a culture that was very private and siloed. That was in part due to lack of resources, but also leaders feeling pressured to protect their ideas. I think this has done a disservice to the industry long term. I am trying to find a way where we can protect the agency and power of both the individual and the collective at the same time. They are difficult conversations. But I am stubborn enough to keep at it.
Do you have a personal mantra or motto? The motto for ArtsPond is “share well, live well”. The motto suggests that artists can be empowered to foster a more connected and collaborative community, that community will be able to live and share more productive, more secure, and creative lives. As a result, audiences will value artists and be more connected to what they can bring to the community. It is my belief that we can all live better if the arts community can share better. In a few generations the trickle-down effect will be a much more engaged, connected community.
What do you wish other people knew or understood about what you’re trying to do or about the arts sector in general? For me, collaboration is an art that is deeply fulfilling yet challenging, spiritually and energetically. I wish more people were not scared by the idea of collaboration. The challenges we face require us to think, act, and share differently. We are all increasingly quite good at collaborating within our own communities, with the artists we normally work with, or the organizations we already have an affiliation with. We are, however, not yet monopolizing on the potential for cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaborations. I think we’re afraid of that for lots of reasons, such as a lack of capacity. For me, it was originally a fear of not being able to speak the language of another discipline I am not familiar with. I wish more people would dare to try. Come out of your comfort zones, good people! Listen! Share!
What did you want to be when you were a child? The first thing I recall was to become a judge. I was very quiet as a child, but I loved the idea of listening intently for long periods of time before stepping up every once and a while to proclaim, “not guilty!” Later, I wanted to join my love for creativity and intellectual fortitude by becoming an artist within academia. Who are your role models and why do they stick out for you? My role models are the tremendous artists that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my career. I have worked primarily with dance and communityengaged artists in the past decade. They are my role
ZOE CHRONIS BROWN Assistant Director, Spectrum Music Student Administration, University of Toronto Faculty of Music
some sort of DIY project, scrapbooking, cooking and baking, or just unwinding with friends and family.
How did you first become involved in arts management? My first introduction to arts administration was in my Music Entrepreneurship class at the University of Toronto. Our professor, Caryl Clark, had great panelists set up who spoke at length about the glories and harsh realities of the field. We also did a marketing project with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra where I was able to interact with music in a different way, which I found both challenging and compelling. From there, I applied to work at the Faculty of Music in student administration, which grew into a full-time position. At the same time, I was pursuing work with Spectrum Music through a networking opportunity.
What do you wish other people knew about your position, your organization, or the arts in general? I wish society valued the arts equally to areas like science or math and didn’t consider them secondary. I believe the arts are what allow us to connect to each other in a personal and human way, which isn’t something we should take for granted. I also wish people outside the field appreciated how challenging arts administration is in general. There is a lot expected and required of you, but it’s not always glamourous work. I find a lot of people have misconceptions about what administration entails. Let me tell you, it’s not sitting at your desk staring at the ceiling! It involves a lot of grunt work, having to wear multiple hats, and thinking fast on your feet, which isn’t work cut out for everybody.
What is your favourite thing about your workspace? I have two main roles right now, one of which is traditional in its setting, the other not so much. I love the general sense of community at the University of Toronto and working alongside my colleagues day-to-day. The Faculty of Music is wonderful because it’s small enough that the staff, students and faculty form a close network. My role as the Assistant Director at Spectrum Music is different, since I don’t have a physical office. We’re a collective and work wherever we find ourselves in the moment. It presents its own challenges, but I enjoy having that flexibility.
How do you stay up to date on current events and the ever-changing sector? Reading is important. Picking up magazines and reading articles and online blogs about the field is crucial. I also think it’s really important to go out to events to see what’s taking place in the city, which is something I’m trying to do more of. Recently, I’ve also been taking advantage of workshops around Toronto and using them as an opportunity to learn about new trends and projects.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What do you wish you could change? My favourite aspect of arts administration is working as part of a team towards a common creative vision. For example, at Spectrum, I love collaborating with my colleagues to brainstorm captivating themes for concerts, and then following them through to production. The reward is then sharing the final product with an audience, and finding other people are as excited about your work as you are. That being said, I wish I could change how persistent you have to be at times to get your work noticed. The amount of emails, e-blasts, posts, re-posts, begging people to write articles or put you on their radio show or podcast - it’s all tedious work and I wish it was easier to reach audiences. But at the same time, I think that hard work is what makes it all the more rewarding when everything comes together.
“I think we as arts administrators form the foundation for the arts and have the unique task of shaping its direction. It’s an enormous responsibility but is certainly a fulfilling experience.” What training do you think is important for an arts manager to have? There isn’t a prescribed method to enter and to be successful in this field, and that is what is so great about it. There are a variety of people from different backgrounds involved. I know people who have entered arts management straight out of a Bachelor’s degree through their own projects, some who pursue administration certificates, MBA degrees, or come into it through more research-based or academic angles. The most important thing I would say is having training or an immense passion for the art you are managing, and ultimately know what is best for yourself. For instance, I do best with structure, which is why I plan to pursue graduate study in music and business. Also, being flexible, self-disciplined, hardworking, and a team player are all important qualities to have.
What do you think is the biggest strength of the arts and culture community? In my opinion, the biggest strength of the arts and culture community is adaptability. I believe that the arts are malleable; there has been history of political unrest and cuts to cultural funding around the world, but the arts have survived and thrived. I think we as arts administrators form the foundation for the arts and have the unique task of shaping its direction. It’s an enormous responsibility but is certainly a fulfilling experience. When you’re not being an arts administrator, what do you like to do? Besides administration, I enjoy performing as a freelance musician and playing just for fun. I play the flute, piano, and have recently been trying to teach myself guitar. When I’m not doing something related to music, I find myself being creative in other ways. I’ll often be doing
Learn more about Zoe at spectrummusic.ca or linkedin.com/in/zoechronisbrown.
BETH BROWN Managing Director, Nightwood Theatre
about what’s going to happen in the future, or what’s happened in the past. When I’m looking at a day that’s daunting, I can think “right now, I’m having coffee, and I’m going to enjoy this coffee, and then I’m going to go to a conference, and I don’t know what’s going to happen at the conference, but that’s later. I can just sit and have my coffee right now”. I mean obviously in this position you have to look to the future, you have to look to the past, but just taking some time.
Can you tell us a little bit about Nightwood Theatre? Nightwood Theatre is Canada’s oldest women’s theatre company. We’ve been around since 1979, and very soon, we’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary. It’s very exciting, we can’t wait! Over the past few years we’ve been increasing the number of productions that we’re putting on, and increasing strategic partnerships, it’s been really great. How did you get started in theatre? I started in production. I actually got my music degree at Queen’s University, so I played in the pit orchestra there. I played bassoon, and in the third year there was no bassoon part, but they needed a stage manager, and that’s what really got me hooked in theatre. I started stage managing, I went to the National Theatre School for my technical production certificate, then started working as a stage manager in the industry.
What advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager? One of my biggest struggles when I was starting out, was continuously comparing myself to other managers in the industry. I think that it’s important to be able to learn new skill sets and to be aware of how different people operate, but that you need to be your own person. You need to be your own manager. Identify the weak areas that you want to strengthen, and see how you can build those skills. I think you are you, and that’s great. Don’t try to emulate anyone else in the industry.
Do you have any formal arts administration training or did you kind of learn as you went? It’s a combination. After stage managing, I transitioned into production managing, then I started transitioning into general management starting with grant work. Areas that I wasn’t very knowledgeable in, like marketing and business management, I studied at Athabasca University online. I took accounting, marketing, and human resources. It was interesting to see what people who are potentially heading into the corporate world are learning, and what theatre practice is, and actually how advanced the theatre world is at what they do.
What makes you hopeful about the future of the arts community in Toronto? What I really like about this community is that it’s not competitive. It’s a very collaborative group of individuals, people are willing to share and talk and support. Nightwood has been able to build fabulous relationships with various organizations and venues. I feel like those collaborative efforts that continue to move the art form forward are what’s really going to help the arts community in the long run.
What is the first thing that you do every morning to make sure you’re starting the day off on the right foot? I love this question so much! I read somewhere that the way you start the day is how your day is going to unfold. I really took that to heart. I like to get up early and have my own time. I have a family and I try to get up before them, just so I can read a book, or do a crossword puzzle, or whatever it is I feel like doing with my cup of coffee. That’s my precious time. I tend to get into the office early, and I do some martial arts practice in the morning and get physically ready for the day.
“I think that it’s important to be able to learn new skill sets and to be aware of how different people operate, but that you need to be your own person. You need to be your own manager.” What is something that someone might be surprised to learn about you? I own a snake! It was the boys’ idea. At the end of the day no one else in the family will feed the snake. It’s a corn snake, he’s very pretty. His name is Diggly. He’s really long and delicate. It’s weird, but he’s a cool little guy, he comes out and says hi. When we were pet shopping, I didn’t expect it to end up being mine, but that’s how it seems to have turned out. I was trying to find a smaller creature, but he is the calmest you can get, and part of the family now, for at least the next ten years.
Who are your role models and why? I have so many role models! Well, Jacoba [Knaapen, Executive Director of TAPA] is one. When I started to move out of stage management and my comfort zones, Theatre Passe Muraille hired me to TD a national tour, and Jacoba was company manager. And things would fall apart, and Jacoba and I would just laugh. It was a wonderful reminder that how you respond to a situation is how that situation is going to be. So working with Jacoba was great because the tour was highly stressful, but we were relaxed about it. We were dealing with it, things were happening, and you can only do what you can do. She taught me a lot, and her energy is astonishing. Do you have a personal mantra or motto that you lead your life or career by? I had the good fortune of taking a mindfulness course, and so just reminding myself to be present, to be here, and taking moments out of the day when I’m not worrying
What would you consider to be your professional superpower? The thing that I really like to do is take an existing procedure, policy, or event and find ways to improve it. To engage more people, to make it more efficient, and make it more budget friendly, but still have the same impact. I really enjoy those creative administrative things. It’s really exciting when you find a donor who has interest in an area and you can find a way to solicit their support and gain their trust and really help build a program. That’s really exciting. What is a professional challenge that keeps you up at night? I think this happens in a lot of arts organizations. There is a lot of stress to get everything you want done in the high quality manner that you know you can do. A lot of times I’m compromising on the quality of work because of the deadlines and speed at which things need to happen. Also, I worry about dropping the ball. I’m doing all sorts of things at the same time so I’m always thinking “what did I forget today?”
TYLER GREENLE AF
Alumni Development Officer, University of Toronto Faculty of Music
What do you like to do when you’re not sitting at your desk? I love to explore the city. I have two children, six and a half and five. My wife and I and the two boys go out to different parts of the city almost every weekend to explore. I’m also involved on the Board of Directors for Heritage Toronto and they do walks all summer long and I love to go on those. And I spend lots of my time on my own following basketball. I love the Raptors!
What does your current position entail? I am the Alumni Development Officer and have worked here for ten years. I work with one other person and we do fundraising. We raise over a million dollars every year and hold alumni and donor events. I manage the social media, major gifts meetings, alumni meetings, coordinate reunions, and have a whole range of other responsibilities. I have also done research on alumni. For a long time, I was very disillusioned with my liberal arts degree but as I’ve gotten more into my job, I realize that I write a lot. I have to write so many letters in different people’s voices and it is a massive amount of communication, especially social media. Social media didn’t exist when I started at this job; it’s a whole new thing that has been added to the work here. I use the research and writing skills from my undergrad in history a lot more than I thought I would.
What is the single most important piece of advice you might give to someone who is starting off in the industry? Whenever you get into a job, and you will get into a job, while you’re in it, think about how you can improve either the job or the organization or how you can bring a new idea in. That is how you grow in your role, how you can help the organization grow, while also making your work more interesting. If you’re in an organization and you realize you’re not passionate about it, that’s okay. In the future, if you can find it, go somewhere you are passionate. For me, [my earlier job at] Soulpepper was great, but I realized I really wanted to work with musicians. I started looking for jobs specifically at any music related organizations. Just get started, and you’ll find your niche, what you’re interested in, what you’re really good at, and what you enjoy.
What do you think is the biggest strength of the arts community in Toronto? The biggest strength is the diversity of organizations and the places that people can work to put their passions into motion. I think that is a huge strength. One of the other strengths I’ve felt, especially since I’ve started working with the Bloor Street Culture Corridor, it suddenly felt like [the other organizations] weren’t competition and we weren’t competing for the same ticketing dollars or grants. It was more “we are in it together”. It really built a strong network of like-minded colleagues who wanted to help share great art.
What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you? Most people I work with now at the University were surprised that I have tattoos and I was in a touring punk band. I was one of the lead singers. I don’t necessarily dress that way of course. I’m 37 now and I have kids, although I do enjoy fashion. I’m pretty much bald at this point but if I did have hair, it would be fun to have purple hair! Follow Tyler on Twitter @tylergreenleaf.
Describe a major professional accomplishment and how you made it a success. I spoke at the Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage in 2015 and convinced them to recommend the creation of the Performing Arts Exemption to the Temporary Foreign Workers program. This advocacy was successful thanks to a large group of service organizations saying the same thing repeatedly. Who are your role models, and why? Kathleen Sharpe of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund is definitely a role model and mentor because she has remained positive and enthusiastic after several decades in this field. What do you see as the biggest challenge to the arts community in Toronto and in Canada? What makes you hopeful about the future of that community? The biggest challenge facing the community is equity and the lack of desire to recognize it as a challenge. Female leaders in the community make me hopeful everyday; I work with some amazing women.
What sort of trends have you noticed in arts administration over the past couple of years? The major organizations are still hiring non-Canadian white men as their Executive Directors, but the small and mid-size organizations know there is talent here in Canada.
Executive Director, Canadian Dance Assembly
What do you see as some of the most promising areas of arts management at the moment? Digital culture and data analysis.
How did you first become involved in the arts? I started volunteering for the National Ballet of Canada in 1991.
How do you build yourself up in moments of self-doubt? Talk to trusted colleagues. How do you ensure you maintain a work/life balance? I am not doing a very good job of it, so I have to take weeks off for mental health. In an ideal world, my job would be done by at least two people if not more, so it is difficult to have a work/life balance.
How do you explain what you do to someone who has no knowledge of the industry? I tell them I am the national spokesperson for dance. What is a stereotype or assumption about your position that annoys you and you want to correct? Artists often assume that my organization is huge and that we have lots of money. (Two full-time staff with a deficit).
What keeps you grounded? My two daughters. Which of your traits are you most proud of? My loud laugh known throughout the arts sector.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day off on the right foot? Breathe.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra? “Love is the gig.”
Was there a moment you knew you had chosen the right field of work? When I addressed a room full of MPs at Arts Day on the Hill 2014, I felt like I was finally in the right place.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about an arts admin career? Learn about provincial HR compliance. If you were to write a book about yourself or your career, what would you call it and why? Elevator Pitch: The Story of an Arts Advocate
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What do you wish you could change? Government relations is the most rewarding part of my job. I wish I could change the rest of my job so that I could do just government relations.
What is the single most important bit of advice you could give to aspiring arts managers? Vote.
ROXANE TRACEY Visual Artist, Poet, and Owner of Fresh Paint Studio
what people expect of a typical art studio and I thrive on creating workshops and events that both kids and adults really love. We do everything from slime art and LEGO art for kids, or abstract batik with dyes and glue. These events bring genuine happiness to everyone.
How did you first become involved in the arts? I believe that art has always been a part of me. I was born to be a maker of some kind. Since childhood, I have loved the idea of making something from nothing. Watching the transformation of the blank page, wood, canvas or fabric become inspirational colour, and for me words is a remarkably exhilarating experience.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager? Do not let all of the administration overwhelm you to the point that you forget about the importance of being involved in an arts-related position that has the power to bring inspiring art to communities.
What do you do in your role? What is a typical day like in your role (projects, responsibilities, etc.)? My role is extremely diverse because my business crosses over into the realm of coffee shop and art studio. My role involves communicating with customers, responding to requests and inquiries, serving coffees and teas, programming art workshops and events, managing a staff of four part timers, and creative visioning as to how we can stand out above our competition.
What do you think is the biggest strength of the arts community? The biggest strength of the arts community is in challenging society to keep making art visible and to continue to resist becoming irrelevant.
What is your favourite thing about your workspace? All of the different tools and mediums that I have acquired over the years because I believe in experimenting and the discovery process of trying unconventional ways of creating art.
Do you have a personal mantra/ motto? If you believe in your power, the possibilities are endless in life and creativity. What did you want to be when you were a child? So many things, a spy, a veterinarian (because I love animals) – everything except an artist ironically.
Describe a major professional accomplishment and how you made it a success. A major professional accomplishment was executing Fresh Paint Studio’s first Art Slam, which is a live art competition. It started out as an idea in my head, like so many other things start out as, and the event was a major success with a full house, funds raised for a local charity, and some amazing artwork produced by local artists.
When you are not working, what do you like to do? Read. I also have a love of words and books. So reading and losing myself in words is very inspiring. What does success mean to you? More time. Time with my family. And less anxiety about finances.
Tell us about your art practice Poetic Art. Poetic Art is a fusion of inspirational poetry and empowering art images. It was born from my love of words and art images and the feeling that the two are complementary and create artistic beauty.
“If you believe in your power, the possibilities are endless in life and creativity.”
How do you balance being an arts administrator and a practicing artist? To be honest, this is an ongoing struggle. There is so much administration involved in running even the simplest of businesses, especially once you start to factor in staffing needs. At the end of the day, there is often little mental space or time in the day to create art. I do, however, go through periods that encompass bursts of creativity when I force myself to work through the nights and finish a piece of art. There is a certain point where art is a basic necessity of life – I start to crave it.
What do you consider your professional superpower? My professional superpower is truly believing in the limitless possibilities of Fresh Paint Studio and making what often seems insurmountable happen. Is there anything you would like to add or any final thoughts? If you have a nagging feeling like there might be an artist inside of you and that you would like to explore being an artist on some level, you owe it to yourself to give that artist some space to grow and thrive and if it doesn’t work out you can always follow another path.
You run arts workshops across the city. Why do you believe that arts education is important? Arts education bridges a gap that other forms of education cannot. It creates an entry point for all students of any level to express themselves in a meaningful and cathartic way. What is the most rewarding part of your job? What inspires you about the work you do? The most rewarding part of my job is the ability to be a creator who creates opportunities to inspire others. More specifically, the idea that I love pushing the boundaries of
Artistic and Managing Director, The Musical Stage Company
schools. School gave me a good overview, but ultimately, I think most of my skills were self-taught after university.
Can you walk us through what you do as part of your role? On the artistic side, essentially I’m responsible for the programming. This is what you see on stage, and also things that aren’t happening on stage, such as educational programs or initiatives. My role is to curate what we are going to be doing, then to get the right team of people in place and let them do their job. If there is a show on stage, for example, I would have been involved curatorially and I would have been involved in securing partnerships. I would have found the artistic team and the cast, and after that, my role would be significantly reduced as I let those smart people do their job. On the management side, I oversee the budget for the year, which includes strategizing and fundraising, working with our fundraising team, overseeing the marketing team, overseeing any operational and big picture stuff. Also, in terms of day to day stuff, I manage the staff. We have a team of seven. And I work with our Board of Directors.
Describe a professional accomplishment that you were really proud of and how you made it a success. We had a big expansion that we launched in the winter of 2017 that saw us more than double our company size, our programs, our reach, and our budget. It involved a rebrand, and we changed our name in the process. I saw an opportunity and figured out how to articulate our strategy in a way that would be embraced by all the people who had to embrace it. I worked really hard to get everyone on board. In the end, a year later, it turned out to be a very good decision. What are some changes you have seen in the industry over your career? The biggest change I’ve observed is audience behaviour. When I started, subscriptions were in better shape than they are now, and the media was more relevant than it is now. It used to be possible to get a really good review or a great preview on the front of the Toronto Star or Now Magazine and see the impact in ticket sales. That doesn’t really feel like the case anymore. All those mechanisms aren’t working nearly as well as they used to. Now it feels like you have to get each and every person to come and purchase a ticket. People are busier and their channels of information are more obscured. The Facebook algorithm has resulted in just hearing from people like you, who like the same things as you. Theatre news is really only circulating amongst artists and like-minded people. There has to be a lot more legwork to get the audience to come to the shows than there used to be.
Can you walk us through some of the education programs offered by The Musical Stage Company and their impact? Why are they so important? The whole reason that we focus on musical theatre, beyond the fact that I like it, is that with music, there is an emotional connection that is made in a way that words can’t necessarily convey. There is something about music that really gets under your skin when someone is singing about what’s happening to them. Everybody has their favourite personal playlist or favourite radio station or the song that reminds them of their mother or whoever. It is a good language through which to tell stories. That’s why from the beginning, our youth work was important. It was always important that it was free. It’s not about people paying for access and essentially having the wealthiest parents. It’s about wanting anyone to benefit from this. Anyone can participate who wants to. Our largest education program is a program we’ve run for twelve years called “One Song Glory”. It’s a free program, by audition. There are 50 participants a year and it takes place over four weekends. We teach kids singing, acting, and dancing skills. These skills will be helpful for their self-esteem and self-expression, regardless of what they choose to do for a living in the future. Another program we offer is in its second year: We partnered with the Regent Park School of Music on a program called “Make Me a Song” where we have composers go into subsidized youth choirs at Jane and Finch, and Regent Park. They work with the kids to get them to tell their stories in creative ways, and then the writers come back having created choral songs about their stories and that becomes the curriculum for the choirs over the course of the year. They are singing songs written for them based on their stories.
What makes you hopeful about the future of the arts community? I think we have great artists in the city and there is innovative work happening. Theatre can be transformative when it is good, when it is exciting, and when it is an event. We have wonderful artists in the city creating provocative and experiential kinds of works. I think that will allow new audiences and old audiences to be engaged in the theatre. What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager or someone who hopes to one day have a role similar to yours? You need to just jump in and do it. That’s the best way to learn. To be really great, you have to be able to speak all the technical languages a little bit. You have to be able to run from a marketing meeting, to a production meeting, to a fundraising meeting, to an acting session, to a conversation about orchestrations. Certainly you don’t need to be the expert on those things, but you must know enough about them to be able to oversee a project on a big picture scale, help guide each team, and help make connections between departments.
Do you have formal arts management training or are you self-taught? It’s a bit of both. I got a Bachelor of Arts at York and I was in a program called Fine Arts Cultural Studies, which doesn’t exist anymore, but at the time, it had an arts management stream. They had a very small handful of courses that were relevant, and they had space for a lot of electives. I feel like I created my own arts management curriculum. I did most of my electives through one of the business
What might people be surprised to learn about you? I have two children. I’m actually pretty good at shutting off. Even though I work really hard, I go home to be a dad in the evenings and I try not to confuse those two worlds. Follow Mitchell on Twitter @mitchellmarcus.
to take away the intimidation. It’s not just for the elite, it’s for everyone. People would have beer and popcorn, kind of like the Opera Pub that the COC does nowadays. Everyone would sing as a group for an hour, and they loved it! It certainly engaged the public. What do you wish other people knew about your position, your organization, or the arts in general? It’s not as simple as it looks. You have to respect copyright laws. The audience thinks that if you’ve done one La Bohème, you’ve done them all, that you don’t have to change anything. But you do! Anna Bolena, that’s coming up, I wrote it in the early 80’s, and that was pre-computer. We had slides made of all the operas for about ten years. For this production, I looked at it, and used it as a base, I’ve got a hard copy, but the Sondra Radvanovsky version is completely different. Attention to detail is necessary.
“I’ve always defined [success] for myself as it doesn’t mean fame, glory, and money. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with all of the above. Success is a happy life with people that you love and work that satisfies you.”
GUNTA DREIFELDS SURTITLES™ Producer, Canadian Opera Company
If you weren’t working in the arts what would you be doing? I can’t imagine not working in the arts. Maybe an NGO somewhere far away, or as an advocate for human rights.
What made you decide to pursue a career in arts management? As a teenager, I was involved in choir and I’ve always been interested in languages, the arts, and music especially. It seemed like a natural progression. In university, I took German and French (I also speak Italian, English, and Latvian), and my second degree was in Music. I wasn’t a performing musician, I wasn’t looking for a career as a soloist. The options were arts management or teaching. I took a performing arts management course in Thunder Bay. Eventually I landed in Toronto Arts Productions, and they ended up keeping me so I didn’t go back to school. I worked in accounting for about a year at Toronto Arts Productions, transitioned to festivals as a freelancer, and then went to the Canadian Opera Company (COC) as a volunteer. I liked music and I liked languages, and it seemed the best of both.
What does success mean to you? I’ve always defined it for myself as it doesn’t mean fame, glory, and money. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with all of the above. Success is a happy life with people that you love and work that satisfies you. There’s always dull and boring stuff that you have to do, but if you choose it, if you do what you like, then it’s success. I think that the arts are hugely underpaid, and disproportionately, because they add to the value of life, society, and government. You need to know a lot working in the arts and that isn’t valued. A creative life is a very fascinating life. That spells success for me, if you can create. . What inspires you about your job? SURTITLES™- it’s music and words in different languages put together. We invented them at the COC, so it’s a chance of a lifetime. I was really thrilled to be a part of that project! What’s inspiring is the art form. You sit in rehearsal and there are moments when you go “aha! That’s why I’m here!”. There is a fabulous artist singing just for you and another handful of people. It’s the transformative power of art.
Describe a major professional accomplishment and how you made it a success. The Ring Cycle. We opened the new house [The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts] with The Ring Cycle. That was certainly a highlight of my career. Having the honour and privilege to do that, it was just very exciting, like the icing on the cake. Another highlight was The Tent at Harbourfront in the summers. I got to do singing translations of operas with popcorn and singalongs, and then we would do an abridged version of opera in English. The idea was to popularize opera and
essentially gone for ten or twelve days, you’re not really seeing your family, but that’s alright. I balance it off at other times. I’m lucky. What sort of things do you do when you’re not busy at work? I have two kids, a ten year old and a six year old, so that really keeps my life balanced. Beyond that, I try to make sure that I’m going to the gym and maintaining physical health, and visiting friends and maintaining my mental health that way. Do you have anything specific that you do to keep yourself grounded? Unless I have an evening event, I don’t stay later than five pm. For the most part if your job can’t be completed in a reasonable amount of time, like in eight hours a day, five days a week, then you have to talk to your superiors, or your Board, and say this is not doable. I’m very aware of burnout and if I see staff getting stressed out, we’re doing too much. Burnout is a problem in the arts. People in an organization have too many tasks, too many things on the go, because, in a good way and a bad way, no one’s standing in the way of your ideas. In bureaucracy, ideas never see the light of day because they kick around in a research loop. You don’t have that in the arts. But what do you have is burnout. People implement too many ideas. I’m lucky in that I get to control that. I can stop something if I feel we don’t have the infrastructure for it.
KELLY STRAUGHAN Executive Artistic Director, Workman Arts
What do you think is your professional superpower? My leadership style is informed by the fact that I learned to be a leader through being a theatre director. When you’re directing, you’re asking people to do difficult things, to be vulnerable and open, it’s a unique thing. In an office environment, I’m still as aware of people and what unique qualities they bring to the table. Also, creativity doesn’t come out of people being scared or insecure, it comes from people feeling valued and confident and having fun. I make a lot of jokes, I like to laugh a lot. I’m the first person to make fun of myself. We don’t have to be skipping around and holding hands, but you can create an environment where people enjoy coming to work, and you can get the best out of them.
What is Workman Arts? Workman Arts is an arts organization centred on art and mental health. We provide training, classes, workshops, performance opportunities, and exhibition opportunities for people who identify with lived experience. This is a true multidisciplinary arts organization. Sometimes people think they have to be in treatment at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for something to be in our organization, but not at all. We have a very deliberately broad and forgiving definition of what it means to identify as having lived experience.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I was always interested in the arts. I was lucky that Sudbury had a very active arts and culture scene. The Sudbury Theatre Centre, a professional theatre, had opportunities for children to be involved in professional productions. When I was really young, I said I would be on Broadway, not even really knowing what that meant. Then as I got older, I just knew it was a career in the arts. So I’ve pretty much followed that. I knew from a young age!
What does your role entail? I’ve been an Executive Director in the past, and I’ve been an Artistic Director in the past. This title really honours the fact that part of the work that I’m doing is figuring out what these performance opportunities look like for artists, whether it be theatre opportunities or film opportunities. I’m concerned with how our artists are getting their work out in public. So that would be the artistic part of it. And obviously the executive is the fact that I’m managing the staff and the budget and long term objectives and goals of the organization.
How do you define success? Success is a blend of meaning, peace, and happiness. Those things sound easy, but they’re hard to get to. So if you can have that nice little balance, well, you’ve made it.
How do you think the work-life balance works for someone in the arts sector? I’m lucky in that I have a full-time job, I have a comfortable salary, I’m mostly a 9 to 5-er. In the arts, you will always have things in the evening, or at festival time you’re just
MEREDITH POT TER
Meredith Potter Arts Management, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Volcano Theatre, Nova Dance, Producers Learning Network
How did you first become involved in the arts? I did a general liberal arts degree at the University of Adelaide, majoring in English and Drama, and essentially I wasn’t qualified to do anything at the time I finished. I got interested in the notion of arts administration. I did a bunch of volunteer work for different organizations around Adelaide. I was working for the Carclew Arts Centre, which is a big old house that runs youth arts programs. I was volunteering with the South Australian Writers Theatre and I just wanted to get some experience. I was thinking I was going to go into a graduate program, but in fact I got accepted to the Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts. WAAPA is a very prestigious school in Perth, Western Australia. Because I was accepted there into the arts management program, I ended up doing a second degree. It was a pretty deliberate path. It wasn’t like I fell into it or I had a performance career before and then I transitioned to producing. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.
How do you split up your time between all of the responsibilities for the different projects you manage? Not in any formal or organized way. It’s just really organic. It’s basically about urgency, which is not to say that I leave everything to the last minute. I just need to do the thing that is next up. It’s predicated on who else is working on things in the team, how I’ve delegated the workload. Peggy Baker has a dedicated producer working with us now, and she’s almost three quarters full time. She’s taken on a load of the producing from me. I am working on a more strategic level with Peggy Baker and less so at a day to day. What I’m doing at any given point depends on which client it is and what my role is with that client and what other support I have from the staff people that work for that organization. All of the people who work here actually don’t work for me. They work for the companies. I supervise them and they come to my house to work, which is weird. I don’t actually have any staff personally.
What do you do every morning to make sure you are starting the day off on the right foot? I think that assumes that I start off on the right foot everyday, which is actually not correct. I try to be organized enough so I’m not feeling like this chaotic mess when I come to the office. I have a tendency to veer towards panic, so my modus operandi is always trying to be organized enough and have things in place so that I have a level of calm around how I’m doing things. That means I start grant applications very early and I never think about submitting them on the day they are due. I’m managing a lot and I’m doing lots of multitasking and I’m thinking about things simultaneously. It’s an effort to just keep everything moving smoothly and in a forward motion. Try to give everything, not equal attention, because it is not set up like that, but the attention that everything requires at that given moment. It’s a balancing act and I don’t always get it right all the time.
“I am the biggest cheerleader for starting a career in arts management. If you’re trained up and ready to fly, you’re going to have your pick of some amazing jobs!” What do you see as the biggest challenge that faces the arts community in Toronto or Canada in general? Technology represents a pretty big challenge because the way people are interacting with one another and the way people are accessing entertainment is changing pretty much every year. There is a hidden opportunity in that and there’s lots of people who are also speaking about this too. There is a communion aspect to going to see live performance. For instance, you feel that so strongly when you’re at rock concerts. You’re part of this massive audience watching a band and there is this huge community spirit that’s happening. That also happens in smaller intimate venues when you’re talking about going to see theatre or dance. That shared experience and that moment you have with one another is never going to happen again, and there is something very special in that. That is an opportunity that we, as a community, have to place in the spotlight as something that we provide. The other barriers, I think the affordability of our city is becoming a problem, it’s really biting in. I think the venues in our city are somewhat problematic. I wish we had more purpose-built spaces of varying sizes.
“I find it deeply satisfying to be in the house watching a show that I’ve been part of, and seeing the artists on stage just killing it, and seeing the audience eating it up.” What is one professional accomplishment, something that you are really proud of and how did you make it a success? I’ve worked on a lot of shows that I am immensely proud of. I find it deeply satisfying to be in the house watching a show that I’ve been part of, and seeing the artists on stage just killing it, and seeing the audience eating it up. There is a real meeting of the minds there and people are very much appreciating the art on stage. I get this very deep feeling of satisfaction that these people are here and those people are on stage and part of all that was me helping make this happen. It’s not an ego thing, I’m not thinking “this wouldn’t have happened without me”. I really feel like an essential part of that team.
Do you have a personal mantra or motto that you live your life by? I have two: “Life is too short to work with assholes” and “Meredith Potter Arts Management: Getting. Shit. Done!” We are here to get shit done. We are not here to sit around and consider things. We have a lot of work to do. These small organizations, you have no idea the volume of work that comes through here every day. If you’re not feeling a sense of urgency at any given moment in the day, then you’re not on the ball because something needs doing right now.
What do you consider your professional superpower? I turn ideas into plans. When somebody comes to me with an idea, I try to figure out all of the different parameters that can be adjusted to make them more exciting or more marketable or better able to get funding or more attractive to philanthropists. That idea turns into a project that has a higher likelihood of success because of all that tweaking. We map out how this is going to come into the world. An idea is not a plan, it’s just, “wouldn’t it be cool if we did this”, whereas a plan is, “by this date we’ll have done this and we’re going to be putting in this and submitting that by this date” and being very methodical about it. That’s where the left brain person that I am helps out very right brained people. Lots of ideas die in the process of trying to come to life because they don’t have a robust plan to support them going out.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I am the biggest cheerleader for starting a career in arts management. I hope that this project, putting together all of these tremendous arts managers around town and collecting all of their brains and their thoughts, is helpful and hopeful to people who are looking at joining us in the industry. We really need you. There are not many people coming in, not many young people coming in, and I think in a little while the opportunities are going to be coming thick and fast. If you’re trained up and ready to fly, you’re going to have your pick of some amazing jobs!
What does success mean to you? Full houses, happy artists!
“Success is being able to have a really diverse portfolio, and also to be able to work on projects that I think are making this world more of a place that I want to live in, and with people who I genuinely enjoy, and who are equally committed to making great things happen.” What is next in your career? Because I’m a freelancer, I have no idea of what I’ll be doing six months from now. My schedule is dependent on contracts. At any given time, I have many irons on the fire. You don’t always know which of those are really going to pan out and which of them are not: you’re constantly pitching. I always have grant applications in, and funding results often dictate what gets pursued. So it’s hard to say! I have a number of exciting initiatives on the go right now. I hope my future will involve more work outside of Toronto; I’m trying to make that happen slowly.
AMY GOT TUNG
When you’re not being an arts administrator, what do you like to do? In theory, I’d love to be making a lot of my own art, but I never have enough time. I think that happens to a lot of arts administrators, unfortunately. I also like to be physically active, which is something I also don’t do enough, and that everyone should make a point of doing who has a computer job, because your body starts to hurt a lot. I like to get out in nature, and I like to play soccer.
Freelance Arts Manager
What is it like being a freelance arts manager? As a consultant and fundraiser, I work predominantly in the arts sector but also in the social sector, with nonprofits and various other organizational structures. I continue to pursue my own work as a presenter-producer, and I manage an inter-arts festival. I became a freelancer because I wanted to be able to pick and choose my clients and projects. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been able to make it work so far (two years now) on a full-time basis. But because my contracts are usually short-term, my work schedule varies hugely from month to month.
“I love helping clients do their work better. Watching clients overcome obstacles to allow the work or the company flourish – that’s super gratifying.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job? I have to say I really love many, many aspects of what I do now. It took me a long time and a lot of hard work and a lot of doing things I didn’t like, in order to get to this point. The nature of survival necessitates that I may not be super jazzed about 100% of my contracts all the time. It just so happens that you’re catching me at a good time in that everything I am working on right now I find super rewarding in a number of different ways. I love helping clients do their work better. Watching clients overcome obstacles to allow the work or the company flourish – that’s super gratifying. After over a decade in this sector, I still think one of the most enjoyable things I get to do is to bring a bunch of people together just to make something cool happen. As a producer, I love being able to watch something unfold in real time, along with my collaborators and audiences. I love working as a team to bring something to life for larger groups.
What does success mean to you? Variety is very important to me. One, because I want to see diversity in what is produced in this town and in this country in arts, culture and media, but also just because I personally get bored easily, I guess. I love change, I like to work with a lot of different types of people, different types of groups, different art forms and traditions. So, for me, success is being able to have a really diverse portfolio, and also to be able to work on projects that I think are making this world more of a place that I want to live in, and with people who I genuinely enjoy, and who are equally committed to making great things happen.
Was there a moment when you knew you had chosen the right field of work? I honestly don’t think there was ever any doubt! But when I interned at the Vancouver Playhouse in the 1990s, I remember being in the audience for the first performance of my placement (Ibsen’s Ghosts), and feeling that I was a very small part of making it happen. I also remember being really excited to see my name in a house program! What is the most rewarding part of your job? Seeing the results of all the planning on opening night when it all comes together. There is nothing better than being in the theatre experiencing the opera in the moment with the audience. I also love being in the lobby eavesdropping on audience feedback, and I still get a huge kick out of a sold out performance! What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you started in Arts Management? If you can, get experience working in a variety of different departments - fundraising, marketing, production because it will help you understand how it all works together. Putting an opera or play or concert on stage is a team project!
ALEXANDRA SKOCZYL AS Executive Director, Opera Atelier
What do you like to do outside of your work? Reading, hanging out with my awesome kids, walking at Evergreen Brickworks, and visiting museums and galleries.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day off on the right foot? Make a list and prioritize. If I don’t stay organized, it’s too easy to get distracted by the things that are not both urgent and important. One of my mentors (Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston) taught me to do the thing that’s the most difficult first: “Get the monkey off your back”.
“I love the energy and enthusiasm of the new generation of arts managers. It’s so inspiring, and it rejuvenates me. I also love the incredible diversity in the arts scene in Toronto.”
What changes have you seen in the industry over your career? In my career, I have spent the most time in marketing, so the biggest change for me has been the move from print to digital. When I started out, everyone read newspapers. Now, a large majority of the people under 50 take in media exclusively online. This means that arts organizations have to stretch limited marketing dollars over digital as well as print media to be sure we reach all demographics. The change in newspapers has also changed publicity – there are fewer traditional music reviewers. However, there are some wonderful bloggers, and we also generate our own web content, which can be fun and creative.
What does success mean to you? At work, being able to rally the team to successfully support the vision of the artistic directors. In reality, this means a lot of planning, budgeting, and negotiating – and sometimes late nights. But when it all comes together at the end, it’s magical. So far, my favourite moment as Opera Atelier’s Executive Director was seeing a concert come to fruition at the Royal Chapel in Versailles in May 2017, when we premiered our first commissioned piece of music and dance. It was a perfect location for a perfect performance, and I admit that I wept. What is a stereotype or assumption about your position that annoys you and you want to correct? There is an assumption that if you work in the arts you don’t get paid. Happily, I do!
What makes you hopeful about the future of the Toronto arts community? I love the energy and enthusiasm of the new generation of arts managers. It’s so inspiring, and it rejuvenates me. I also love the incredible diversity in the arts scene in Toronto.
people, we’re working in the same industry, we have the same issues. I have people like Jacoba [Knaapen, Executive Director of TAPA] that I can go to.
What is a part of your job that you don’t particularly enjoy? I spend a lot of my time telling people that they are doing things wrong. It does get exhausting being bad cop all the time. I try to be nice about it. For instance, a really big deal for designers is being credited properly for their work. Theatres will use production photos and images to publicize a show. We all support this, we all want that to happen. It’s now written into our agreements that you have to credit the work of the designers when you’re doing that. I spend a lot of my time slapping wrists of theatres that do it. It’s a fairly new requirement, but I mean they should do it anyway, because it is the right thing to do. What do you think is one of the biggest strengths of the arts community as a whole? The arts community has an amazing ability to mobilize. Things around voting and Arts Vote. It was very critical when it first started. There was a massive mobilization of the arts community around the issues that were important to us. It is a community of people who are very engaged and aware of what’s going on in the world. Just look at [401 Richmond] and how the building mobilized to make actual change. We got a new property tax code written into provincial law. That’s amazing! That started in this building. Others will benefit. The Artscape buildings will benefit. Numerous other buildings in the province will benefit from this new property tax code. Who wants this building turned into a condo? How devastating would that be?
GAIL PACKWOOD Executive Director, Associated Designers of Canada
What do you anticipate changing in the Toronto arts sector? I really hope as an industry we become more transparent with salary so that people are shamed into paying better. I’ll use an example directly from ADC. The average fee for a set design in a large venue 30 years ago, was only $208 less than what our established minimum set design fee is now for those venues. This is not acceptable. I’m certain that ticket sales and prices have gone up more than that percentage in that period of time. Everything else has gotten more expensive, I get it. But why is our first thought to pay an artist less for their work? You get to a point where there’s certain expectations of time. What we’re really not good at, is that whole work-life balance question. It’s easy for me to say, prioritize your time. But if you’re working for a theatre company, and the culture of the organization is that everyone comes in and is staying at their desks until 8 o’clock at night, how can you as an individual starting your career be the one to say “no, I’m leaving at five because I came in at nine, I’ve done my eight hours”. That is an almost impossible barrier for you to face. So we have to as a culture change that.
Can you tell us about the Associated Designers of Canada? We represent the designers who work for the stage. Set, costumes, lighting, sound, projection or video designers who work in theatre, dance or opera. We negotiate the collective agreements that they work under at the various theatres. We also offer boring, professional things like RRSP plans and health coverage. Things that people who work freelance or who are independent contractors, which most of our members are, don’t have access to. We also have some mentorship programs and professional development opportunities for members. We are an association, not a union, but we do offer the same labour roles that a union would provide. Can you describe your position? I am the main liaison for our members, for any issues they may have or for any contract questions they have. I don’t negotiate contracts for them on an individual basis. I offer clarity about our negotiated agreements and we can offer guidance. I also look after the governance of the organization. It’s mainly just me in the office. I have a bookkeeper and someone who does our website. What I love about being at 401 Richmond is that I have other
When I was at Canadian Stage, Marty Bragg was still the Artistic Producer. He was really fitness conscience. We had once a week yoga classes for the admin staff in the rehearsal hall. Everybody was allowed to take the time off and it was not a problem. Not only does it get
you away from your desk, you’re doing something that is good for your body and mind. That was the culture of the organization. There has to be that balance. It’s going to be hard until the people of my generation affect change in our organizations. And we do that to ourselves. No one else is doing it. Lawyers, maybe, are sitting at their desks late, but they’re also paid $500 an hour, not $20. We as an industry need to be better about that.
“There was a massive mobilization of the arts community around the issues that were important to us. It is a community of people who are very engaged and aware of what’s going on in the world.” I feel really strongly that we need to be public about salary ranges in job postings. The argument that I’ve had with Boards when I’ve wanted to post salary is “no one good will apply if they know how much it pays”. There’s no point in wasting people’s time, or tricking them into thinking it’ll be more than it is. If good people won’t work for that money, then maybe the industry as a whole needs to raise more money, or change the priorities of how they spend their money. I’m all about paying people more money. Can you describe a major professional accomplishment that you are proud of? I spent one summer at Young People’s Theatre, many years ago. They had a summer program for 16 to 20 year olds. We auditioned 300 students from across the GTA. They spent eight weeks learning about acting, drumming, dance, mask making, and all sorts of things. The idea was to show them that there were other opportunities in the arts, not just being an actor. We did a production at the end of those eight weeks on the main stage at YPT. From that class two of the eleven are professional actors. I’m still in touch with both of them and that was 20 years ago. YPT never did that again, because the funding didn’t get renewed, which is too bad. It was a really remarkable program. The intention was to get people from all areas of the city, all economic backgrounds, and all ethnic backgrounds. As diverse as possible. Which, 20 years ago, was very forward thinking of YPT to say “no, our stage needs to embrace the world and the city that we are in”. It did that and it was phenomenal. .
ANNEMIEKE WADE Managing Director, Roseneath Theatre
Everytime I get a ‘no’ I lose a little bit of myself. It’s really soul destroying when people don’t believe in art like you do.
Can you tell us about Roseneath Theatre? Our work is based in social justice themes. We tackle a lot of issues that young people experience in their lives and we try to reflect that to them on stage, because their stories are just as important as any stories that you see in adult theatre. What’s also really special about Roseneath Theatre is that we tour into schools, which breaks down a lot of barriers for educators, administrators, and students. When we bring the show to the schools, we can typically see about 300 children in a performance. We can give them a show that works out to be about $3 a ticket for the students and they don’t have to worry about buses, permission slips, or anything that takes the kids out of their home environment. When we go in to the school, it is a very democratic process and a very safe space, so they are open to what they are about to receive from the actors artistically. They are not in a setting where they are on guard in a strange environment, so it is easier for us to get the message across.
Is there a way to manage these setbacks? For me, it is one foot in front of the other and that’s something I really live by. I often feel like I am slogging through this mud but you just have to keep going. You just have to keep persevering. It’s going to be frustrating, but we don’t do this because it’s monetarily rewarding. We do this because it feeds our soul. What would you anticipate changing in Toronto theatre in the next ten years or so? I think it’s already started, I think SpiderWebShow is on the forefront of where theatre is going. They’re doing a lot of digital theatre. It’s like rehearsing in your hometown but via Skype. Different elements of a show can be created in different hubs and then come together in performance. The way that digital technology is being integrated in liveaction theatre is fascinating. Bad News Day did a piece at the Theatre Centre that was live action but it was on an iPad and it was projected. It was really cool, it was sort of the rise and fall of a YouTube star. The integration of the technology was really fascinating and I really think we’re going to see more and more live-action and projected theatre.
How did you get into theatre? I came to Theatre for Young Audiences by way of being an actor. My undergrad is in theatre and drama studies. Soon after I finished my undergrad, I got a job touring a children’s science show. I did that on and off for seven years and did over 5000 shows. We worked at the Kennedy Space Center, we’ve done the Calgary Stampede, and Canada’s Wonderland. One summer, in six months we did 26,000 km, so I know TYA from the inside out. After seven years, I was ready to try something else. I went back home [to Vermont] and I worked at a college as the activities coordinator. I did the ski trips, booked bands, karaoke nights, etc. In January of 2007, I immigrated to Canada. I produced a show in Toronto that was an inner city tour in 2008, when nobody was doing site-specific work. We did this play called Unwrap Your Candy, in three bars across the city. We brought theatre to people. We spent $1500 on it and made enough to pay back the actors. That was my first real producing gig, and I realized that if I wasn’t going to be an actor, this was the next best thing. I had the brains to make a budget and the rest is, as they say, history.
How can more people be inspired to consider a career in arts management? I think there need to be more things like [this publication] because young people coming up who are interested in the arts don’t know about the opportunities that happen outside of what happens on the stage. I think as educational institutions and mentors and the current caretakers of this art we need to be more vocal, more open with all of the opportunities. I have an MBA from a program that never even considered that you need business people in the arts. We should have an MBA that is artistically driven. Toronto has one at the Schulich School now, but how many 18 year olds know about that? What is the most rewarding part of your job? I feel most fulfilled when I can be part of creating opportunities. Creating opportunities for people to see a piece that they might not see otherwise. Or for artists to work in ways that they haven’t before, or for playwrights or directors to have the opportunity to do the work that they want to do. Many of the things that I do can create those opportunities. For example, grant writing, so that I can create the budget that can create the jobs that create those opportunities. A very hard part of moving from acting to administration in the arts was going from the visible to the invisible world. I still struggle with not being the face of the art. I have to find opportunities where I can to remind myself that [the work] wouldn’t have happened without me. If I’ve created a new opportunity for someone, then that’s success. If I’ve righted a historical wrong and made it so that something is no longer a problem, then that’s a success. Success is being able to give back to my community, to my family, to my friends, and feel that I’ve made some sort of impact.
What did you want to be when you were a child? Everything. I really thought I would be a lawyer or a diplomat. When I was in grade nine, I was in my first play. I was in Annie and I played Lily St. Regis. My very first time on stage, in my very first scene, we were singing “Easy Street” and my shoe flew off while we were doing the dance and everybody laughed and laughed and laughed and I thought “oh my God, this feels amazing”. My mom had been doing hair and makeup for the show and I came running downstairs and I said “Mom, Mom, I know what I want to be when I grow up” and she said “great!” She’s thinking lawyer, doctor. I said “I want to be an actor!” and that was the end of that. What is a lesson you’ve learned the hard way? Sometimes your passion isn’t enough and that’s heartbreaking. Just because I’m passionate about something doesn’t mean I’m going to get it. As passionate as we are about the work we do, not everyone is going to see it like that and not everyone is going to give you money for it.
NADINE FINL AY
Curatorial Assistant, Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre
How did you first become involved in the arts? When I started at the University of Western Ontario, I wanted to go to teachers college but I didn’t like the program I was in. Later, I found the Museum of Ontario Archaeology in London and I walked in one day, and said, “I want to volunteer. I will do anything. I will sweep the floors or do whatever you need to have done. I just want to volunteer!” So I volunteered with them for a couple of different events and they ended up hiring me for the summer. When I graduated from my undergrad, I thought “great, now what?” I was looking for something that could take me a little bit further, that would make me a more ideal candidate to actually be hired in museums. I found the Humber College Arts Administration and Cultural Management program so it just seemed like a natural progression.
something that they learned, that moment is what I really like about teaching and public education. That access point. When you can communicate with somebody, and you both come away from that experience changed.
What led you to your current role? The exact same way that I started at the other museum. I found out about the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre when the curator, Jennifer Bazar, led a tour of the tunnels for our class. I studied a lot of Indigenous history and archaeology in Ontario, so when that was mentioned as being a main pillar of the Interpretive Centre, I thought “alright, these are my people!” I went on the website and I came up with a proposal that I would help research about the Indigenous side of the history and archaeology of the Lakeshore area. I walked in with my resume and said, “nice to meet you. I want to volunteer. Is there a position?” I stuck around long enough and the previous Curatorial Assistant went to the University of Toronto to do another Master’s Degree. I got hired last summer! Clearly being persistent has worked for me!
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring arts manager? Take time for yourself because a lot of people in the arts will overcommit and try and do everything at once. If you’re volunteering with a couple different organizations, or you’re working with three different ones, when’s the you time? Just take one afternoon and do something for you, whatever works for you. If that’s binge-watching Netflix, if that’s going paintballing, find a way to do that one thing so you have a breathing space.
Who are your role models, personally or professionally? Jennifer Bazar. Holy moly. This woman does everything, all the time, amazingly. She’s doing Humber’s Indigenous Knowledge Certificate, she’s here at the Interpretive Centre, and she’s also involved with the Etobicoke Historical Society. She does everything with everything and she is so positive about it all the time. No matter what kind of day you’re having, if you walk in, she will be an ear to listen and she has advice readily coming your way. She’s a wonderful person and does amazing work. She’s a great role model all around.
You are also enrolled in the University of Toronto’s dual Master’s program in Museum and Information Studies, specializing in Archives and Record Management. What made you take the next step in your education? What made me go to that was researching other people who had jobs that I wanted and seeing what education they had, piecing together what the job position generally required, and how that would align with my interests. I took those two things, put them together, and found this program at U of T. I also referenced Hamilton in my application letter, George Washington’s “who lives, who dies, who tells your story”. That was my argument- we are the people who tell the stories. Clearly it worked, because I got in. That’s how I moved into that master’s program. I’m taking it because it’s just that extra competitive edge that will get me to where I’m aiming to go.
Can you walk us through what you do in your role? I’ve helped with the different exhibits, from the initial ideas and planning, all the way up to sourcing the materials, and designing how they’re going to look, and then installing them. I did the digital exhibit on the website (CHIME). I help with social media, projects, and craft night. I do tours, we do different events all around campus, and we help out supporting other events. We do student outreach and community outreach, online outreach, research, and planning.
What are professional development opportunities that you’d recommend to aspiring or emerging arts administrators? Go to things. If you see a poster about, say, ballroom dancing, go try it out. It’ll be fun. If you see something done in a way that you would have done differently, well, how can you get in there to do it differently? It was explained really well in one of my classes. You don’t network. Networking is just a spider’s web; it’s a dead term. You’re just talking to people and making relationships. You find what you have in common with another person and you make connections that way. It’s not getting to know as many people as possible within the sector. It’s “hey, we think the same, or we have the same hobby, we should chat”. And then maybe that would turn into something. Think of networking that way, as building relationships, rather than trying to establish as many different connections in as many different places as possible.
What’s the first thing you do every morning to start the day off on the right foot? I go running every day. It’s my thing. It’s just so nice to wake up in the summer at 4 am and to go running, and then the sun rises just as you’re finishing. It’s not hot and there’s no bugs. It’s just nice to get out and have quiet time. A lot of museum and archive jobs are so sedentary and I like moving around. You sit in a chair, or you sit in the archives, it’s just so much sitting. So I start the day running. Find your thing is the lesson. Find the thing that makes you happy and then do that either before or after work. Take some you time. What is the most rewarding part of your job, and what inspires you about the work that you do? In general, when you share a piece of information with somebody, and they have this moment of “I get it! I’ve learned something”. When someone else is happy about
THE TE AM
Arts Administration and Cultural Management, Humber College
RACH EL MARTINE
A NNA MA KSYUT YNS K A
Rachel has a background in Music and pursued a career in Event Planning before coming to Humberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Arts Management program. She hopes to combine her love of music with her planning experience to create events that show others the importance of the arts.
Anna has a background in Music and International Relations. She has also worked at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She aspires to work in the field of arts education.
EI LEEN F IRTH
E MMA PA GAC Z
Eileen has a background in History and Art History. She was inspired to go into the arts following a summer internship at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. She looks forward to making connections in the art world and introducing the arts to new people.
Emma is a high school Visual Arts teacher with a background in Art and Art History. She hopes to share her love for art and spur the creativity of others through arts education and community engagement.
RITA KI M
ME GHA N Mc C RAC K E N
Development Coordinator/Designer Rita has a degree in Music but has learned she prefers to work behind the scenes bringing art to life. She hopes to work in marketing and audience engagement in the performing arts.
Meghan has a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. She is interested in performing arts, feminism, and working with children and youth.
TI JA FREIMUTA
HAYLE Y RE E V E
A lifelong student of music, Tija has an academic background in Linguistics. She hopes to work in arts education, community engagement, or volunteer management.
Hayley has a degree in History and Theatre. She has always had a love for museums and musicals. The heritage sector is where she hopes to start her career in community engagement and education.
“I think that it’s important to be able to learn new skill sets and to be aware of how different people operate, but that you need to be your own person. You need to be your own manager.” - Beth Brown, Managing Director of Nightwood Theatre
“If you believe in your power, the possibilities are endless in life and creativity.” - Roxane Tracey, Owner of Fresh Paint Studio “I don’t know if every generation feels this, but I do feel like the winds of change are blowing and it’s a very challenging time. There are lots of opportunities out there for us as arts managers to do some really meaningful things and for us to be the change that we want to see.” - Sally Lee, Executive Director of CARFAC Ontario
“I think there’s a recognition that the arts absolutely matter and have such a positive impact on people’s lives. That gives me some hope.” - Kevin Reigh, Community Arts Officer at Toronto Arts Council
ISBN 978-1-7753358-1-8 (e-book) ISBN 978-1-7753358-0-1 (print) © TO Arts Managers, 2018