Friday, 21 December 2012

Best wishes and happy holidays from my home to yours!

by Carol Beauchamp, Executive Director

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is almost over with the New Year rapidly approaching.  This is a wonderful time of year filled with laughter, family, friends, and the opportunity to take in some great theatre!  It is also a time for reflection, and a time for renewal and regeneration.

It has been a busy year at Theatre Ontario – we have completed the research phase of our strategic branding exercise, we have developed a number of new workshops, we have been working with the Ontario Arts Council and other Provincial Arts Service Organizations (PASOs) to deliver the message to our MPP’s on the importance of Arts funding in the province of Ontario.  This is an extremely important message to carry, particularly as Liberal delegates will be choosing a new leader at the end of January, and there is the potential that we could see a provincial election as early as May, 2013.  Theatre Ontario will continue working with the PASOs to deliver the message on the importance of arts funding in the province.

The arts and cultural sector is tremendously important to the creative, economic and social fabric of our amazing province.  Some short and snappy facts that pulled together you can share with your local MPP (courtesy of the Ontario Arts Council):
  • Ontario’s cultural sector directly contributes $19.7 billion annually to Ontario’s economy, representing 4.2% of the province’s GDP
  • Both Statistics Canada and the Conference Board of Canada recognize creators and creative producers as important first steps in the “creative chain”. The economic impact of the culture sector is derived through the creation, production dissemination and sale of arts and culture goods and services
  • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Policy Statement on Social-Economic Development states that “arts, culture and heritage improve the ability of municipal governments to influence local economic development by attracting and retaining a skilled and talented workforce.
  • In a 2010 survey of 18 mid-sized Ontario cities, all of the municipalities reported using cultural and recreational amenities (i.e. operation of cultural facilities, museums and galleries) as a tool for downtown revitalization.
  • 95% of Ontarians believe that arts activities help enrich the quality of our lives
  • 89% of Ontarians agree that if their community lost its arts activities, people living there would lose something of value.

Accessibility Standard For Customer Service – report due December 31st, 2012
The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service came into effect January 1st, 2012 and applies to all organizations (public, private and non-profit) that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario and that have one or more employees in Ontario.

This includes consultants, manufacturers and wholesalers as well as other businesses and professional services.

The act requires that a report is filed by December 31st, 2012 for all organizations with over 20 employees.  All organizations with over one employee should have a plan and their staff should be trained.  If you haven’t yet put your plan in place (for organizations with under 20 employees), or submitted your report (for organizations with over 20 employees), visit the Ministry of Community & Social Services website for more details.

Not-for-Profit Corporations Act
Ontario’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010 (ONCA) is a legal framework for not-for-profit corporations, including charitable corporations, and is targeted to come into effect July 31, 2013.   It will set out how not-for-profit corporations in Ontario are created, governed and dissolved.

Existing not-for-profit corporations will have a three-year transition period once ONCA is in effect. This will allow them sufficient time to make any changes to their incorporation and other documents that are necessary to bring them into conformity with ONCA.

There is still currently some ambiguity with some of the details of the act (including the effective date), however, the changes will require a review by organizations of:
  • Letters of patent: do they reflect the corporations current and/or future activities
  • Review of by-laws
  • Review of Director and Officer Provisions
  • Review of Member Provisions
We will provide updates on the progress of the act, however, in the interim, I would encourage you to go to the Ministry of Consumer Services website and look at the Transition Checklist for some additional information.

The last twelve months have been a tremendous experience for me personally.  I have also had the great joy and privilege of meeting a vast array of committed, passionate and creative people who are producing wonderful theatre around the province–I consider myself extremely fortunate to have seen exciting theatre in venues as diverse as The St. Lawrence Centre of The Performing Arts, The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, a winery in Prince Edward County, a barn in Millbrook, a Church in Hillsburgh, a grand old theatre in Sarnia, and schools in Espanola and Saulte Ste Marie – and many, many terrific venues in between!  The variety of plays has more than matched the variety of venues from classics to new works written and performed by Canadian artists.  I never cease to be amazed by the magic that is created as I am moved to laughter or tears, inspired to create or become involved, provoked to think, consider, research and debate both controversial and motivating issues.  Wow–Canadian theatre is alive and well in Ontario! Thank you to each of you who inspire and woo me with your creativity and passion.

I have been fortunate to have met many wonderful people from across the province, with highlights and memories abounding.  The people of Sault Ste Marie opened their hearts and doors to us when Theatre SMC hosted Theatre Ontario Festival 2012–the city’s Mayor welcomed festival visitors at a lovely reception overlooking Lake Superior–it doesn’t get much better than that!  The Ottawa Little Theatre celebrated its 100th anniversary, and our sister organization for the francophone community, Theatre Action celebrated their 40th anniversary on the same weekend.
I am very much looking forward to 2013:  We will be kicking off the New Year with new workshops in January and Showcase 2013 for the graduates of Ontario’s theatre programs, held at the St. Lawrence Centre of the Performing Arts January 20th and 21st.  I would be remiss if I did not say a big thank you, to you, our members.  It has been a pleasure to work with and for you over the last twelve months, and I am anticipating with delight the opportunity of meeting many more of you in person in the next 12 months.  Thank you for your commitment and your support.  Have a wonderful and safe holiday season, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

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