SPARC Mini Symposium 2018

The following post was written by Peggy Raftis, one of the organizers of the Mini SPARC Symposium in Harriston. This Mini-Symposium was held on Saturday, October 20th, 2018 and it 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 Friday, June 28th. For more information about the program email rebecca@sparcperformingarts.com . 


When the idea of exploring what a South Western SPARC hub would look like arose, there was significant interest from many groups. Locations and ideas where discussed and goals were set out.  Numbers dwindled a little and, as a result, a small – but determined! – sub-committee was formed. It was decided, to help gauge whether there was genuine interest, that hosting a ‘mini’ symposium would be a great way of engaging like-minded people and uniting them within this geographical area.

The selection of the time frame and date was difficult as we wanted to compliment what Haliburton was doing and not compete with other events within our own organizations and area.  We decided to host this in October as that would give us enough time to make arrangements such as booking venue, food and most importantly, speakers and attendees.

Three topics were chosen to provide information in three key areas: Audience Development,  Marketing and Promotion, and Grant-Writing. Using many resources such as SPARC, Theatre Ontario, Google searching, and personal connections, invitations were sent to speakers, asking for them to advise on expected remuneration as we need to prepare a cost analysis to determine the budget.  We were able to make this an affordable event thanks to support from SPARC’s Collaborative Community Initiatives program, creating the food budget based on the number of people that actually attended, using donated decorations and securing the support of the local municipality through the Minto Culture Round Table.  Of course, there are always the last minute cancellations and we were fortunate to have talented people within the group that filled programming gaps.  Invitations were sent via email and social media postings were made as well as articles in the county newspaper.

From the moment attendees started to arrive at the Mini Symposium, there was a buzz of enthusiasm and creativity in the air.  Although our group was small, the agenda was full of presenters and speakers that kept the audience engaged. Our sub-committee, a core group of individuals from Minto, Chesley and Elora, managed to pack the day with information on effective grant writing, audience development, engaging youth and marketing and promotion.

We received significant positive feedback from the attendees, indicating the session not only provided tools and information that could be put to use in their own organizations, but also that the networking and contacts made throughout the region would prove to be invaluable. Of course, the biggest hit of the day was the scrumptious food catered for the event!

The purpose of holding the Mini Symposium was to build on what SPARC has started at their biennial symposia; to strengthen the network and encourage communication and collaboration in this area so resources and support could be geographically accessible.  We feel this mandate was met, however, the event could have been more successful if more people attended. Same old story “getting bums in seats!”

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