Archive for January, 2012

January 29, 2012

Sunday Roundup – January 29

It wasn’t that long ago that we were ringing in the New Year and making resolutions and yet within this week it will be February. Too many of my besties get a case of the drears this month, so we shall try to keep therir spirits up and make some merry.

So about last week…

Video Post: Pay The Writer – excellent video story. Pay people. Pay them what they are worth. Because we love what we do does not mean we should be giving it away for free.

Creation Lab and Doc Challenges – the Fringe Creation Lab was open for an afternoon last week for folks to go and work on creative stuff with other creative folks. It’s an excellent energy. Also, HotDocs has a great contest going.

Should Art Really Be For Its Own Sake? – oh we do love this question, don’t we? Highest clickthrough rate last week.

On Attending Workshops – I really do love them.

I saw a lot of things last week from Sing A Long Grease at the Lightbox, to Golden Dragon at Tarragon and Cruel and Tender at Canadian Stage, and the afore mentioneds workshop of Walk Like an Egyptian. There is a ridiculous amount of really good stuff going on in our fair city these days. Go see some of it.

Social Media Week is just around the corner, the workshop I am doing in partnership with Parkdale Village BIA is sold out, which is amazing, and  I’ve just confirmed to be on another panel as well. Busy week.

Quick note that a colleague of mine asked me to promote this survey to artist-type people. Artscape is planning a centre for creative sector entrepreneurship called Launchpad. Click here to tell them what you’d need, folks.

And I’ve decided that the 12 hour art marathon will be happening in February. More on that later.

And finally I was at the Cameron House last night to see Little Jimmie’s Chicken Pickers which is always a fun night of friends and laughter and music. It is also a kid-friendly event and there are usually a half dozen smalls there dancing like crazy. We come to listen and sing a long, they come to dance with purpose and feeling.

The highlight for me was a little sprite named Eliana.  We had a little chat in the backroom, where we discussed her age (2)  and the age of her stuffed animal (Elliot, also age 2) and how much she had liked the music.  I said I really liked her dancing, and it looked like she was having a lot of fun. She agreed, nodding vigorously, and said, “Yes it was fun, I was doing amazing twicks.”

I hereby declare February to be the month of Amazing Twicks. Go out and do some.

January 27, 2012

On Attending Workshops

Last week a note arrived in my inbox from Nightswimming, inviting me to attend a workshop-in-progress sneak peek of Anita Majumdar’s Walk Like an Egyptian, developed by Nightswimming.

Yes. Yes I will attend.

I`ve worked with Anita before, Fish Eyes went up at Passe Muraille while I was there, and I did marketing and PR for The Misfit (fun fact: we were among the first in TO Theatre to use Facebook ads – they worked.) I love her work as an artist and I love working with her as a person. We`re on the same page.

I also love attending workshops. Real ones, I don’t mean a donor cultivation event which is really an almost ready to open rehearsal disguised as a workshop (although those are good too) I love attending the exact type of workshop I attended last night.

There is something privileged about attending a workshop. It`s by invitation. The two dozen people in the room are there specifically for a reason, they all have something to do with what is happening. There is no set, only suggestion of costumes, minimal props,  and you are seated on folding chairs in a studio under work or fluorescent lights.

It is genuinely about the work, or the snippets of the work you are about to see. That is all there is to it. As always, Anita’s work is solid, I can completely see the foundations of what will be, the choreography is great, and there is already a deeply touching moment that is hard to watch for the truth of it. I cannot wait to see it fully staged.

Workshops are necessary. And inviting people to them is crucial. You need to have an audience reaction to determine what is working, what is not, oh they laughed at that and didn’t even smile at that. And even though everyone in that room is there for a reason, everyone is trustworthy, so to speak, there is a moment of realization that you’ve been invited into the kitchen before dinner is ready, the souffle has only had half the time in the oven, and you get to see it. Raw ingredients. You get to see the experiment.

To mix a metaphor even more wildly, someone has said, “I’m going to put my heart out for you to see. Under these fluorescent lights and nothing to make it truly pretty. Here is my heart.”

It’s an honour.

January 26, 2012

Should Art Really Be For Its Own Sake?

Gotta love the Guardian.

You often hear it said that “museums of art are our new churches”: in other words, in a secularising world, art has replaced religion as a touchstone of our reverence and devotion. It’s an intriguing idea, part of the broader ambition that culture should replace scripture, but in practice art museums often abdicate much of their potential to function as new churches (places of consolation, meaning, sanctuary, redemption) through the way they handle the collections entrusted to them. While exposing us to objects of genuine importance, they nevertheless seem unable to frame them in a way that links them powerfully to our inner needs. Read more…

Yesterday was a double barreled day of theatre – The Golden Dragon at Tarragon, then Cruel and Tender at Canadian Stage.

I`m still thinking about Golden Dragon. I loved it. I love when a play raises questions and makes me think.  From Mooney on Theatre“You will never forget that you’re watching a play. If the cross-gender, cross-age and cross-ethnicity (is that a term?) characters doesn’t pull you out of the experience enough, then the spoken stage directions and occasional ‘nudge-nudge-wink-wink’ type of action to the audience will.”

It’s true. It’s thought-provoking and at the same time, the speed at which you accept all of the above and begin to embrace it is uncanny. I was lucky enough to go for dinner after with a group of theatre friends – I love that. I love that when we love a play we flip it over and eviscerate it, tear it apart, try to find the meaning, try to go deeper:  “did he purposely do that?” “what if that wasn’t intentional?”  “That was a really important line – was it deliberately treated as a throwaway?” Anyone listening would think we hated it, save the occasional, “I LOVED IT!” that punctuates the conversation. That is how we show our love.

Cruel and Tender has its roots in Sophocles The Trachiniae and so we have a Greek Tragedy modernized. And modernized really well – it`s a dense piece, it`s heavy, it`s worth it. Classical theatre  manages to resonate to a modern audience – the themes, the message, the questions it raises. A tiring night in a good cathartic kind of way. And Daniel Kash in his final scene has him chewing up the scenery and spitting it back in your face. Wonderful stuff.

Again – these aren’t reviews. They’re what I think about what I did yesterday. I love that I had a two play day yesterday.

Last week I posted a theory about the ability to do a twelve-hour art marathon in this city and cover all genres. I’m doing it next month. Stay tuned for details – I got it all planned out in my head.  AND I’m doing it on a budget.

January 24, 2012

Creation Lab and Doc Challenges

Quick note before I dive into Powerpoint creations:

The Toronto Fringe’s Creation Lab will be open all afternoon today, January 24 (12-6) for anyone to use for FREE! There will be free coffee, free wifi, a couple comfy chairs, some office work spaces, breakout rehearsal spaces… Sounds like a lovely afternoon to spend working at the Creation Lab. 720 Bathurst, suite 403.


Doc Challenge is open! The International Documentary Challenge is a timed filmmaking competition where filmmakers have 5 days to make a short non-fiction film (4-7 minutes.) All of the registered participants make their films during the same time period (early March) and are required to ship the movie by the deadline. In addition to being restricted on time, the filmmakers must choose between 2 assigned documentary genres (such as Biography, Music, 1st Person, etc.)  and are assigned a specific theme (such as “Freedom”) that will dictate the content and direction of their film. The top 12 films (determined by a panel of judges) premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto where the Winners are announced. After the premiere, there are additional theatrical screenings in major cities, possible television exposure (on the Documentary Channel) and a DVD release of the best films. The films are also streamed on our website for voting for the Audience Award and many films (including non-finalists) can be seen on the SnagFilms Doc Challenge Channel.


Perhaps you could work on your doc at the Fringe Creation Lab today. Just a thought.

January 23, 2012

Video Post: Pay The Writer

Friend sent me an article that included this  video.  And it’s a nice tie in to a previous post I Hate Nickle and Diming.

It’s a raised voice rant with swears, so put in your headphones. It’s worth listening to.

So pay the artist, the writer, the dancer, the performer, the arts administrator. Pay them, and pay them what they are worth. I was talking with someone about fees and the value of the work we do and he reminded me – it’s not just money lost if you don’t get paid, or are paid less than you are worth.  It’s also opportunity lost, for while you work for free or less than your value on their project, it means you cannot work on something else.  Just because we love what we do, that we are among the fortunate that way, does not mean we need to do things for free or less than we are worth.

January 22, 2012

Sunday Roundup – January 21

I have been in meetings all week, and bookmarking things  like crazy to post about and thinking about blogposts and not having had a chance to do anything about it as I sort out an  influx of new clients for marketing, for media, for business planning and continue to work with current clients on marketing and web, and meeting with potential clients for the months ahead, reading scripts, and sending notes to folks I want to work with and talking to them about their future plans. Working, dreaming, creating.

Things are marvelously busy and I’m happy as heck.

So it’s Sunday, and I’ll hook you up with some interesting reading – get another cup of coffee and there you go.

Monday was Library Day and I’ll recommend When She Woke which I got out and finished on Thursday. It said on the back cover that it channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller and you know? It DID.

From the GuardianShould theatre leave more to the imagination? I remember discussing an offshoot of this idea in Grade 12 English class and how the words on the page could convey just as much as any set.  It was a thought-provoking discussion and I bet it would be even more so today. Shining example? Read on… The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,

From slate.comWhat’s the Best Way To Get Users To Embrace Mass Transit? – I liked this quote – “ “A transit map that makes all the lines look equal,” writes Walker, “is like a road map that doesn’t show the difference between a freeway and a gravel road.”

I do love mashable. Always something to think about: Why Social Media Is The New Gallery.  Many interesting points and some success stories – but I can’t imagine them completely replacing the chance to go in somewhere and see the work up close and personal.

A reminder that Social Media Week is fast approaching, is FREE and sessions are filling up so I’d advise you to decide what you’re going to and get registered. I’m down for four sessions so far, plus the one I’m doing and don’t forget there’s a party every night.

Oh if anyone missed what happened with the City Budget last week, I am sending you to torontoist to find out. Once again they’ve done a fantastic job with coverage of all things municipally political. I will also send you to this fantastic article by Edward Keenan – we actually had some political intrigue going there!

Anyone who knows me knows I tend to frequent the Cameron House on a Thursday evening to listen to Corin Raymond and the Sundowners, and Corin is making headlines these days – if you’ve been hearing tell of a musician who’s paying for his studio time in Canadian Tire money – that’s Corin. It’s coming in from all over Canada – so go check the junk drawer and visit for more info. It’s good for your soul. Speaking of which, so is this – have a listen, it’s one of my favourites:

January 16, 2012

Library Day!

It’s a library day today – we haven’t talked reading much lately so here we go.

Holiday reading included The Night Circus (read and already loaned to a friend); The Sisters Brothers (which I feel is going to be good) Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (which was amazing and you should read it right now) and The Memory Palace (which I liked, but wanted to be a bit more, given that I already knew about the idea of a memory palace and use it to remember things. It’s good for your brain).

The Table Comes First  – oh my lord, you need to read this book if you cook, read recipes, go to dinner you name it. I’ve already quoted it twice in this blog because it feels like it applies to everything. And made food from it – there are no recipes of the half a teaspoon variety, only the basics food, do something to the food, do one last thing to the food and there you go.

What kind of holiday reading did you get done?

Am off to the library today – I have five overdue books and to quote the  website, this  User has FINES (owing and/or accruing) so I’d best go straighten out my library reputation. BTW fines have gone up as of January 3rd:

Adult materials $0.40 per item, per day

Teen & child materials $0.20 per item, per day

Best Bets $1.00 per item, per day

Adult DVDs $1.00 per item, per day

Teen & child DVDs $0.50 per item, per day

Fines will be charged based on the type of material you borrow – adult, teen or child – not on cardholder’s age category. No getting your six year old toborrow Valley of the Dolls for you.

Something else they’re doing (from the National Post):

Library aims to attract the hip, bookish under-40 set.

Last Monday, the city’s budget committee voted to slash $7-million from the Toronto Public Library’s budget. Although the decision must first be approved by council, there was immediate concern that the largest library system in Canada, with over 19 million visitors in 2011, will have to shorten hours of operations at certain branches, cancel programs, and cut the number of new books added to its collection.
Next Thursday, they’ll try and get some of that money back. Read more…


All right – moving forward into the day – I also need to stop by the Parkdale Village BIA which is beautifully located across the street from my library. I’m doing a social media workshop in February  for their members as part of Social Media Week 2012. If you are a member of the BIA, contact them for the deets, or follow them on FB or Twitter.

Happy Monday! Go read something!


PS Next Stage sales went up a whopping 22.5% this year, bringing in $78,552.40 at the box office – congratulations to all the amazing artists, staff, volunteers and audiences involved! 132% increase overall since Year One sure ain’t bad for a 5th anniversary celebration! – via Adam Kirkham. Well done people – now THAT’S how you do a festival!



January 15, 2012

Sunday Roundup – January 14

Sudden bitter burst of cold AKA January this weekend. Aside from socks and sweaters and cooking things,  what’s been going on?

A Triple QR Code Post – mine, Rebecca Coleman’s and the Globe and Mail.

Why The Arts Should Be Funded – I wonder how many times this type of post will be – posted – before we actually catch up?

Bits and Pieces of Art and Enterprise – Next Stage (final day today) and a reminder about the services I offer. Drop me a note and let’s chat.

Reading Productivity Articles Does not Make You Productive – kaizen and gestures over gestalt.

From the Toronto Star – Toronto Budget -Arts Funding Won’t be Cut. Celebrate, but celebrate with caution – you never know what will happen at Council.  So remind your Councillor this was a good start.

Next week is a week of meetings and finding outs for Sue Edworthy Arts Planning. See you then!

Sunday Funny

January 13, 2012

Reading Productivity Articles Does Not Make You Productive

January comes with a slew of resolutions. Some are about getting organized and being more productive, and the inevitable batch of articles from everyone about how to be more productive. And they have stock images of harried looking people surrounded by stacks of paper. (I think my choice is much more soothing).

So you spend hours reading such articles. Not productive.

And you spend hours setting up systems and files and meetings and Gantt charts that nobody can quite get the hang of using because it is your system and way of working, not theirs and so they are rejected.  Not productive.

I don’t think productivity is about your beautifully colour coded files, or code phrases (although I read the Staples catalogue like others read the Victoria’s Secret Catalogue). I think productivity is about actually doing what you’re meant to be doing, not spending time organizing what you’re meant to be doing.

A couple of articles that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tips For Getting More Organized – Don’t.


Managing Yourself With Your Smartphone.

Things I like that have made me more productive? Given that I spend most of my communication time emailing it’s mostly about email.

Gmail’s Boomerang – which allows me to tag a sent message to come back to my inbox if nobody responds in X number of days.  Now I don’t have to remember when I’ve sent it, did they respond, go through sent file, go through email files find and resend. Gmail will tell me. One less thing to worry about until I need to worry about it. It also allows me to write the email now and schedule it to send later – not sitting in drafts where I keep clicking and wondering what that is – it just deals with it so I can do other stuff.

Gmail also suggests people to add to an email chain. If I usually email Ashley, Rhett and Scarlett at the same time, and this time only email Rhett, it will suggest I add Scarlett and Ashley before I send it, saving time on the Fwd: whoops! forgot to add you! front. Which is essentially another email chain. Not productive.

And my favourite: Dear Rhett, attached please find the commendation for Ashley as a true gentleman. And I go to hit send, and Gmail pauses and asks, “you used the word attached in your email but there is no attachment. Continue?”


If you would like to continue reading productivity articles, by all means do so. But I’m going to mix my suggestion metaphors here.

Kaizen – long story short (no, I’m not linking to an article, you have two articles up there to read and I will not enable your habit).  Small steps. One thing. Not hundreds of dollars of organizing tools and equipment from Staples, but one thing you can do to get organized. Thousand mile journey, single step idea.

And from The Table Comes First by Adam Gponik which is a wonderful book about food. In the chapter on recipes, he points out that most recipes by celebrity chefs are too daunting to create as a whole, by yourself, in your little four burner, one strainer kitchen.  Instead we “read a long recipe and take away from it a singly feature – a new way of reducing onions, the idea of adding the cubed potatoes to the green beans – a gesture, rather than a gestalt.

TORONTO BUDGET: Arts Won’t Be Cut. – many thanks to  Councilor Gary Crawford, Councilor Michael Thompson  the Executive Committee,  the members of Theatre Task Force. I’d also like to add in a big thank you to everyone who wrote letters, emailed, called, went and gave deputations, blogged, facebooked, tweeted and generally rallied around the idea that cuts to the Arts are cuts to our City and our quality of life.

January 12, 2012

Bits and Pieces of Art and Enterprise

It’s that first full week back and everyone is jumping in head or feet first and so it’s been busy. Add in the Next Stage festival and you’ve got yourself day and night busyness.

Last weekend for the afore-mentioned festival, things selling out all over the place so I recommend you find out what still has tickets and get one in advance  – then pre show go chill in the (heated) beer tent,  listen to some music, meet some folks and chat and then head in to see a play – Mooney on Theatre and NOW have reviewed them all should you require some guidance.

I’m looking forward to seeing Golden Dragon tonight at Tarragon.

I looked at my calendar and realized I will hear a yea or nay on two exciting projects by tomorrow. Friday the 13th indeed.

A reminder that if you’re thinking about any of the following – it is the new year, after all –  we should chat.

  • marketing plans for next season or your next project;
  • boosting your social media impact, and creating a proper social media policy;
  • organizational development;
  • making the most of your communications efforts.

Another reminder if you think the cupboard is bare and it’s not in the budget to hire, upcoming deadlines include:

Compass Grant deadline March 1 for more info.
Flying Squad deadline April 1 for more info.

And a story in the Star today that made me smile.

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