Saturday, October 29

8:00 am                      Breakfast

8:15 – 9:00 am           Showcase Performances

9:00 – 10:30 am         PLENARY

Growing a Sustainable Rural Performing Arts Eco-system

Inga Petri Photo by: Inga Petri

Inga Petri Photo by: Inga Petri

Keynote Speaker:

Inga Petri, Strategic Moves, Ottawa, Ontario & Whitehorse, Yukon

“Specific qualities of the arts eco-system we build determine whether the performing arts can fuel vibrant rural communities.”

Drawing on her experience working in arts communities across Canada, Inga Petri examined three distinct rural communities in Canada in detail – Temiskaming Shores, Ontario; Haliburton, Ontario; and Wells, BC. She mapped and analyzed the relationships between organizations and individuals active within each arts eco-system, and how together they create community. Then she evaluated each area’s success in establishing an arts scene that fuels the vibrancy and quality of life within each community.

Completed in the fall of 2016, these findings and insights will be presented for the first time at SPARC. It is intended to reveal whether there are common criteria or success indicators – and what they might be – that can help show how to nurture the seeds of an idea into a compelling vision and, in time, into a sustainable performing arts eco-system.


11:00 am – 12:30 pm    CONCURRENT SESSIONS

S1        Embodying a Curatorial Vision


Dena Davida, Co-Founder, Tangente, Montréal, Québec

An intense one-hour group experience for future community arts curators to clarify and enrich our understanding of “the curatorial.” Together we will explore the power in articulating a passionate artistic vision that is rooted in one’s local community with a wider awareness of the global arts world. We will begin by embodying metaphors for cooperation by getting physical with visceral exercises drawn from contact improvisation.

Participants will explore a series of community-building, time-honoured contact exercises which will offer “kinectic metaphors” for cooperation, mutual support and sensitive relationships. The dynamics of this session welcomes non-dancers.

S2        But I Can’t Do Math! An Introduction to Data for Arts Organizations


Eric Goudie, Theatre Coordinator, Fergus Grand Theatre, Fergus, Ontario

This session will offer an introduction to data collection for arts organizations, and is specifically tailored to individuals without a natural aptitude for crunching numbers. It will begin with suggestions about the types of information arts organizations might want to collect, and why collecting data is important. It will show participants where they can go to find data (and how to capture it), as well as touch briefly on CASL regulations, privacy protection, and other due diligence requirements. Spreadsheets will be used to show how data can be recorded, organized and calculated, and how this data can be used to prepare a quote, a financial settlement, or graphs and charts for use with funders, the media and government. A key portion of the presentation will be devoted to a cell-by-cell illustration of how the data for a single event can be recorded, as well as the calculations that can be performed using that data in conjunction with other events.

This is not intended as a training session in Microsoft Excel, nor will it offer legal advice about privacy, anti-spam or income tax requirements, but it will offer practical advice about data collection, organization and use in day-to-day business operations: clear examples of data that can/should be collected; clear examples of how data can be used and displayed; and copies of the spreadsheets (and their formulas) used in the session will be available to participants on request via email.

Led by a recovering “math-phobe” this session hopefully will offer inspiration and confidence to people who struggle using data and numeracy skills to make strategic business decisions.

S3        Bottom Up Not Top Down: Creating Own Culture: The PlaySmelter Festival as Case Study


Lisa O’Connell, Artistic Director, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Sudbury/Kitchener, Ontario;

Matthew Heiti, Artistic Association, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Sudbury/Kitchener, Ontario

Founded in 2013 as a “gritty” little series of staged readings of new works of theatre created by emerging playwrights in Northern ON, Pat the Dog Theatre Creations’ PlaySmelter Festival thrives. PlaySmelter is now programming for its fourth year, including two world premiere productions of work first presented to audiences as Staged Readings at the inaugural Festival. Audiences have grown, our artists have blossomed and funding has been received by all levels of government in support of the Festival. PlaySmelters’ existence proves that bottom-up grassroots theatre initiatives work, and work well.

Pat the Dog’s Artistic Director Lisa O’Connell and Artistic Associate Matthew Heiti will lead us through a practical “How To” discussion on how we built this festival.

Over 90 minutes we will provide a step-by-step deconstruction of the PlaySmelter Festival (including what didn’t work), how to get started and to build original work and original content in your community, when and how to get grants, and how best to use the national ecology (art service organizations) to serve your project.

Discussion will include: About the creative project – growing slowly but with focused intent, inviting community into the process, curating kindly. About growing the community – challenging and counteracting top-down culture that doesn’t celebrate your community; getting beyond the myths and misconceptions, the quaint and the cute, to what your community really is; creating a landscape where our kids really want to stay and work. About marketing – working with regional economic development teams, understanding and accessing international markets.

About Pat the Dog Theatre Creation: Pat the Dog Theatre creation has been serving playwrights in Ontario since 2006. We serve more than 700 theatre creators in Ontario and have a special interest in emerging voices and neglected spaces. A registered charitable institution, we are a member of the Playwrights’ Development Centres of Canada, Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. We are the only playwright development centre in Ontario inclusive to all theatre creators.

S4                    Small Halls


Kelly Symes, General Manager, Ontario Festival of Small Halls, and Special Events Coordinator, Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield, Quebec

Jennifer Campbell, Executive Director, Small Halls Inc., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Small Halls festivals are popping up around the world. What started in Prince Edward Island has spread to Australia, and now to Ontario. The Festival of Small Halls is proud to join this international community dedicated to showcasing first-rate music in intimate venues. The Ontario Festival of Small Halls is about sharing a love of music in a beloved place. Brought to you by the Team Behind Bluesfest, the Festival of Small Halls brings exceptional Canadian and international musicians to 24 rural communities across Eastern Ontario. The festival runs from September 14th to October 2nd in buildings that communities hold near and dear. Churches, barns, old town halls and community centres open their doors to first rate musicians from near and far.

During this session, participants can expect to learn about relationship building between event organizers and rural performance venues, community building in rural Ontario areas (including Almonte, Arnprior, Athens, Beckwith, Bolingbroke, Burritts Rapids, Chaffey’s Lock, Delta, Elgin, Gananoque, Smiths Falls, Lyndhurst, Maberly, Maxville, McDonald’s Corners, Mississippi Mills, Morton, Pakenham, Pembroke, Perth, Seeley’s Bay, Spencerville, Westmeath, Winchester), initiating and fostering partnerships with similar festivals on a national and international level, working with and helping to grow the careers of emerging rural artists, booking national and international artists, and how each of the events are successfully executed.

S5        Building a Community of Music


Roxanne Casey, Manager, Canoe FM, Haliburton, Ontario

Barrie Martin, President, Haliburton County Folk Society, Haliburton, Ontario

Without music, life would be a mistake – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

The Haliburton Highlands are alive with the sound of music. Music is part of our cultural mosaic and contributes immensely to vibrancy of our arts community. There are many opportunities to listen to or perform live music. The offerings are diverse – folk, jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, classical, and opera. We have musical guests of the highest calibre and a wonderfully talented community of local artists. And music happens in schools, theatres, restaurants, resorts, homes, community centres, camps, on the street, and in the great outdoors on forest floor and lakeshores.   How did this rural community of music come to be? What are the challenges and how are they being addressed? What were opportunities and factors that shaped its growth and vitality? In particular, we will explore how influences such as community radio (Canoe FM) and a presenting organization (Haliburton County Folk Society) can make a big difference. Join us for a mix of discussion, presentation, and performance. We are hoping a portion of this workshop will be broadcast live on Canoe FM.

12:30 – 2:00 pm         LUNCH (last half hour Interactive Network Station available)

2:00 – 3:30 pm           CONCURRENT SESSIONS

S6        Music is Life: Creating New Forms & Connections Through Collaboration With Musicians of All Ages        


Steve Wright, Founder/Operator, The Sound Space Studio, Sechelt, British Columbia;

Baeden Shendebray, Musician, Sechelt, British Columbia

Steve Wright is a musician, workshop leader, event organizer and community arts asset. He runs The Sound Studio on the Sunshine Coast of BC, an immersive environment where he introduces young people, teens and adults to the world of music and guides them into creative territory. Using games, imagination, graphic scores and presence of the moment, he demonstrates how the smallest seed of an idea can be transformed into a musical and artful landscape. Steve also connects kids with each other, forming one-off projects and concerts where local professional musicians collaborate with kids and trade off influence and enthusiasm.

Songs are written, instrumentals are created and recordings are done quickly, with an emphasis on playfulness and relevance to their place in the community and in the world.

Baeden Shendebray is a 16 year old musician who has been performing since the age of 7. He sings, plays ukulele, bass ukulele, drums, and beatboxes. He recently has been immersed in live electronics and is learning to record his own creations at home on his laptop. He has created original music for a video game he designed and has performed at local festivals and concerts. Baeden has been working with Steve every week for four years, learning about song writing, dynamics, melody, and has co-written and recorded everything from pop tunes to extended abstract sound pieces.

Together, Steve and Baeden will talk about their collaborative history and process. The session will also feature an improvised group collaboration that will create an original work, performed at the end by the entire participants. Using graphic scores, games and questions posed to the group, they will lead a session that will create energy and have people laughing when they leave with a memorable finished tune that will be relevant to participants.

S7        Believe in Your Audience: The Road to Renewal


David Adair, Business Manager, Georgian Bay Symphony, Owen Sound, Ontario

The Symphony was able to increase attendance by almost 60% in one year with further increased the following year of the program.

Aging and declining audience numbers are a major problem for many rural arts organizations. This session will look at how the Georgian Bay Symphony, a well-established arts organization serving a rural area, tackled this situation. Issues around identifying that there was a problem will be discussed in the wider context of what is going on across the sector: how the plan was put together, who was involved and how it was implemented. Cooperation between the Board, management, volunteers and existing patrons/supporters will be explored as key factors. Engaging patrons as part of the solution was a major part of its success. Existing supporters are just as engaged in wanting an organization to succeed as the Board or management. The expected outcomes will be contrasted with the real ones. The ultimate program that was implemented, to offer drastically reduced one-time subscriptions, performed twice as well as expectations. Some thoughts about why this happened will be given. A few other ideas on audience growth and engagement will also be touched upon. The Symphony worked successfully with the local hockey team.

The session will wrap up with an overview of what happened in year one and two of the program and on audience growth, short and long term, and the impact on the organization’s budget.

Intensify a problem.

Be bold in finding a solution.

Engage your supports early in helping to implement your plan. They want you to succeed.

S8        If We Don’t Act, Who Will?: Inclusion Means Voicing Hard Issues With Compassion & Passion


Joan Chandler, Founding Artistic Director, Sheatre Educational Alternative Theatre (Huron), Kemble, Ontario

david sereda, Associate Artist & Co-Producer, Far From the Heart and Be Our Ally, Sheatre Educational Alternative Theatre (Huron), Kemble, Ontario

Jon Farmer, Education & Tour Coordinator, Far From the Heart, Sheatre Educational Alternative Theatre (Huron), Owen Sound, Ontario

Community. It’s where you live, who you interact with, who you are impacted by. Two people living side by side often live in utterly different communities. Whose stories do you tell? Whose stories move you to act? Are there some voices no-one wants to acknowledge? How can ignored voices be included?

Sheatre has a long history of using the performing arts to give voice to those whose stories and perspectives have been hidden or silenced. In 2006, it created Far From the Heart, a play about relationship violence and date rape, in collaboration with a group of teens of varying ethnic and social backgrounds in Grey County – where, the youth said, speaking up in small communities increased their risk. The play has been produced 176 times to an audience of 17,468 people in the intervening years, usually in schools, always with community facilitators at hand who support the youth through the interactive exchanges and debriefing that follows the production. An on-line interactive film version with teacher and facilitator training guides is also available.

Sheatre uses interactive issue-oriented theatre and arts that celebrate community and the creative spirit to address a broad spectrum of muzzled issues. This workshop will explore how to support a young audience that is exposed to volatile materials, how to integrate community resources throughout the creative and production process, and how to find funding for complex programs like Far From the Heart.

S9        Bridging the GAP (Grounding All Performance)


Catherine Carpenko, Founder & Coordinator, Dufferin Dance Network (DDN), Mulmur, Ontario

Participants will be guided through a process, both experiential and practical, to learn how to create connections between performing rural artists and distant communities with the mutual goal of serving both communities’ varied performing arts needs.

To start, a brief survey of participants’ specific art form and goals in attending the session will help to determine what parts of the presentation will best serve participants. This ‘meet and greet’ moment will set the stage for the entire session and allow the session content to be appropriately framed.

A couple of examples will be shared through audio-visual presentation, of how this has been accomplished in the last few years through the efforts of Dance Ontario and Dufferin Dance Network’s initiatives. This will be followed by a ‘live’ bridging performance event that will take place, between participants and an ‘away’ group of performing artists seeking to share their art.

A brief post-performance live streamed or telephonic follow-up exchange between SPARC participants and the ‘distant’ performers to share their experience of the ‘event’ will follow. SPARC participants will have an opportunity to discuss their specific art form and receive practical tools for implementation of bridging the geographical gap. This will include sharing a framework or model from which to begin/launch a similar event within their own performing arts community. These tools will outline a process of establishing purpose, resources and strategies to ensure the best outcomes and gather the best support and participation possible; they are transferable and applicable to educational, community and individual ventures.

Like all performance-based activities, there is no guarantee of the outcome, BUT the session itself will be an example of the advantages and challenges in ‘bridging the geographical gap’ between the performing arts in rural communities and its relationship to urban centres.

S10      Managing Your Online Presence to Build Local Audiences & Attract Tourists


Inga Petrie, President, Strategic Moves, Ottawa, Ontario & Whitehorse, Yukon

In this interactive training session, participants will gain a clear understanding of the components of an integrated web presence, and how the components work together to grow their audiences and build followers.

Inga will present a concise overview of relevant online, mobile and digital marketing channels and how participants can use them effectively for the dual purpose of attracting both a local resident and tourist audience.

Together, we will workshop a one-page customized diagnostic tool to assess each participant’s own web presence and quickly identify areas of improvements or obtain confirmation that they are on the right track. The diagnostic tool includes seven major areas related to their web presence and four questions in each area. A one page assessment key is provided to help achieve an objective evaluation.


4:00 – 5:00 pm           PLENARY – Highlights & Insights             

Facilitation Team:

Michele Emslie, Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon;

Thom Lambert, Singing Dog Studio, Haliburton, Ontario;

Lisa Tolentino, Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, Haliburton, Ontario;

Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit; Chair, Communities in Action Committee, Haliburton, Ontario;

Kate Hall, Active Transportation Planner, Communities in Action Committee, Haliburton, Ontario

An interactive opportunity to put words into action, Highlights and Insights will provide participants with guided/facilitated exercises to transform their learnings of the day into plans of action for incorporating into their work at home.

Photos by Sticks and Stones Productions

Photos by Sticks and Stones Productions

6:00 pm                      RECEPTION