Harriston Mini SPARC Symposium: An Attendee’s Report

The following post was written by Catherine Frid about her experience at the Mini SPARC Symposium in Harriston. This Mini-Symposium received support from SPARC’s Collaborative Community Initiatives Program last June. 

The next deadline to apply for support from the Collaborative Community Initiatives Program is Thursday, February 28th. For more information about the program email rebecca@sparcperformingarts.com . 


The SPARC Mini-Symposium in Harrison was held on Saturday October 20, 2018.

It turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for arts creators, managers, presenters and organizations in the area to meet each other, hear presentations on a wide range of topics and, last but never least, enjoy great food!

After most hospitable greetings from host Gordon Duff (Town of Minto, Minto Arts Council, and Minto Cultural Roundtable) and George Bridge (Mayor, Town of Minto), we dove into our full agenda.

Marilyn Lawrie, digital Media Manager of the Stirling Festival Theatre, spoke about the pros and cons of radio, print and social media advertising, complete with fascinating statistics on demographic usage of various media and their costs. Bottom line: Facebook ‘boosts’ are very cost-effective.

This was followed by a SPARC update by Eric Goudie, including a reminder about the support available through SPARC’s Collaborative Community Initiatives program.

Then Heather Watterworth of Creative Worth Communications and Design gave an entertaining and thorough presentation on branding – what it is, how it works, and how to know if your brand needs a refresh. She also included a detailed Brand Checklist to help assess how a brand is working.

We paused for a gourmet lunch of salmon medallions, Thai chicken and absolutely delicious vegetarian and even vegan options. And of course irresistible desserts.

After this feast we could have all probably napped for half an hour, so it was lucky that Taylor Keunen and Megan Raftis, members of the Minto Youth Action Council, and youth members of the Grey Wellington Theatre Guild were our next presenters on engaging youth volunteers. They divided us into groups and each group made a ‘pitch’ to recruit for a youth volunteer!

Linda Albright of Arts Network for Children & Youth continued the youth theme, with a compelling talk about the need for strategic co-creations as creating places for youth to belong, to be creative, and to work with people who believe in them. She also highlighted the Toronto Spiral Garden, an ongoing youth co-creation.

Next up, Kate Russell of the Municipality of South Huron made a high-energy and detailed presentation on grant writing that included a comprehensive handout on grants that are available in the area. She emphasized that “the story’s the thing” – you need to tell your story effectively in a grant application.

Sandy Irvin, Arts Communicator and Administrator, focused on Promoting the Performing Arts in Rural Areas in yet another excellent presentation. She spoke of the importance of knowing your local market and yourself, and on building a team and partnerships. And she closed with this excellent quote:

“In my opinion, Minto is among the very few rural communities who understands the importance of the creative economy” — Mark Cassidy, Rural Ontario Institute

The day’s closing presenter was Jane Marsland, from Strategic Arts Management, who spoke to audience development.

Thank you Gordon Duff and SPARC for organizing such a great day!

 

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