|What Goes on in the Mind of an Arts Administrator|
Dan Watson of Huntsville is training in artistic direction with Franco Boni at The Theatre Centre.
(February 26, 2016) I think that this graphic sums up where I am in this development period. That is to say, there is a lot on my mind. Some are for now. Some are for later. But it’s so exciting and fulfilling to have this time and brain space to learn, ponder, imagine and scheme. Halfway through, I can see where I’ve come from, and the road ahead feels very long. But I’m happy to be travelling it, and am so grateful to Theatre Ontario for giving me the fuel.
So what have you been doing Dan?
Meetings, Meetings & Meetings. I’ve had a bunch with my mentor Franco Boni who has been a huge resource of knowledge, advice and source of honest and helpful feedback. Franco asks good questions. He supports me and challenges me. We’ve been looking at my activities in Huntsville, really clarifying what I want to achieve, and offering me different resources to help me get there. Staff at The Theatre Centre have also been so helpful, in particular Christine Pellerin, Director of Development and Partnerships. She has offered me her perspective on developing relationships that lead to donations and sponsorships and a bunch of practical resources that can help me do it.
|Pitching at the Push Festival|
|Ice Follies in North Bay|
|Circles of Influence Analysis with Ruth Howard|
And What Have You Learned?
It takes time. Like many artists and organizations, I work project to project. I like it. It gives me flexibility to follow my impulses and interests. I also recognize that it has encouraged me to think in the short term. Developing partnerships has always been about immediate needs of a particular project. Once the project is done, do I keep up the connection? Sometimes yes, but often no. I always knew it was about developing relationships, but I don’t think I ever understood it. I maybe still don’t. Relationships take time to cultivate. Some won’t work out. Some will. So which ones to work on? Which to let go? That takes constant work and reflection. But I feel relieved of the pressure too. It’s okay Dan, it’s going to take time, you don’t have to make it all happen right now. In particular, I’m excited about the connections that I’ve made with presenters, and the process of getting supporters and potential donors/sponsors excited in what I’m doing. By thinking long term, I feel the pressure is off. Just keep finding reasons to engage, and when you get to the table with them, listen.
Who’s Asking? I’ve learned a lot about fundraising and partnership development and a huge eye opener is: it’s not just about what you’re asking for, but who’s asking for it. That’s what boards are for Dan! Of course! It’s related to so many things I’m learning. Telling your story can get people excited. That excitement can motivate people into action, to advocating on your behalf and introducing you to people in their world. Relationships grow (but not too fast!). That’s how you build support, really that’s how you build community. It sounds obvious, but it’s not, and damn it’s hard to do!
Look North. I feel like a fool. I’ve been working in my home town of Huntsville, making connections with organizations and artists in Toronto, inviting them up. It’s been wonderful. But then I look one hour up the road to North Bay and discover a bunch of great people, people that I feel a strong connection with not only because of where we live, but the kind of work that we are all making. The connections are very exciting and I want more. In the coming weeks I will make trips to Manitoulin Island, Sudbury, and the North Shore of Lake Huron to visit different artists and organizations. Again, it’s the beginning of a conversation, and if the chemistry is right, it will take work. It will take time. And that’s okay.
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2016.