Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Listening to the Changing Conversation

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

I’ve once described the role of arts service organizations in the theatrical ecosystem as listening to artists, acting collectively, and then listening again.  Last year, Theatre Ontario extended an open invitation to participate in a comprehensive survey—our first in eight years.  It was time to take advantage of our expanded Communications Centre to listen again on a broad range of topics.  The response was positive: a useful mix of praise and constructive criticism that helped us develop our new Strategic Plan, introduced at our 2011 Annual Meeting.

Our online resources were found to be both the most used and the most useful of our programs—a good thing to hear since “providing information and developing resources” was identified as our most important role.  One of the opportunities we identified was how we articulate the value of what we do.  Respondents said they didn’t always feel well-informed about the significant impact that Theatre Ontario’s members and donors have for theatre artists in Ontario.  Raising our profile to improve that recognition is one of the Core Strategies in the new Plan.

We received responses from both the professional and community theatre sectors.  Both sectors expressed satisfaction with the programs we provide, and so another Core Strategy of our Plan focuses on ensuring that our programs continue to remain relevant and exciting.  We will continue to use social media to identify needs and gather specific feedback of priorities and improvements—our blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed are open for comments and conversations—and we’re also considering more surveys this year focused on specific program areas.

Finally, we recognized that achieving our ambitions depends on generating revenue, strengthening our Board governance, and ensuring available human resources.  Already, we’ve introduced Position Descriptions for our Board of Directors, and with the help of municipal grants, we’ve hired new part-time contract staff to help us better realize our goals.

The questions of who we are and what we are doing will always be changing, as the theatre sector in Ontario itself changes.  By participating in the conversation, you take on a vital role in helping us serve you better.

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