Chillin’ and Illin’

It’s been over a day since the GVPTA Making a Scene – Devoted and Disgruntled conference ended and I’m still feeling inspired. I started the conference not sure if I was still interested in theatre but leaving it I know I’m very interested in the theatre community and creating something with them.

Day two was filled with lots of talk about food, creating community, and having fun. At least that’s what was being discussed at the sessions I went to.

The first topic that drew me in was about fundraisers. These were the points I jotted down.

  • People will dish out more money if there is food involved. Vancouver is a very foodie city.
  • Asking for donations before/ after a show. Before- Fringe Festival’s fund-raising this year. After – Pi Theatre’s John and Beatrice at PAL was a success.
  • Have special events/ nights for sponsors.
  • People need to create relationships with their sponsors. Having 500 small donors means more bums in seats than having one philanthropist.
  • Ideas for interesting events: cocktails in unique buildings, dinner in people’s homes, poker night.
  • “If you ask someone for money they will give you advice. If you ask someone for advice they will give you money.”

Putting the Play back in … was the topic of the second session I attended. People came from various backgrounds for this one. Some people were arts administrators and wanted to know how to make their jobs of writing grants and dealing with office life more fun. Some people were artists and felt that rehearsals/ shows were sometimes treated like a captial J Job by their peers. Others wanted to know how to make going to the theatre a more joyous experience.

These were some of the suggested ideas/ thoughts/ tangents.

  • The burlesque community makes their shows start at the door. Their box office staff are dressed up, the music is pumping and there is a party atmosphere from the moment you enter the building. Can theatres decorate their lobbies more? Have interesting displays in the lobby? Performers can interact with the audience pre show?
  • Have dance breaks during boring office hours to get the blood flowing, add silly back in to life and avoid using food as a pick-you-up.
  • How can auditions be more fun? Add more games, play and have other actors in the room supporting each other.
  • About grants: someone suggested that they discuss what they wanted to say for weeks before they got around to actually writing their grant. That way the application was in their own words and not in ‘grant speak’. Jane Heyman said that from her experience on juries she prefers applications that use a unique voice. (Also make sure your grants have artistic costs at the main focus of your budget.)
  • Re: Budgets. The budget is the statement of the philosophy of your company.
  • Sit on a jury – you will change the way you write your grants.

During my lunch break I butterflied around chatting with many people and got a wonderful massage from Jacques Lalonde.

After the break I couldn’t decide where I should go next. I was having a lovely casual talk with Jeremy from Nanaimo and Jen Hill. Part of me felt that I should be attending a session but after floating from group to group I felt like the right place for me was with Jen and Jeremy. We spent the better part of the next hour getting to know each other, our theatre histories, our connections and our goals for the future. Kellee from Rumble joined us and I dubbed our session “Chillin’ and Illin’.” It was the highlight of the conference for me.  What came out of it was the desire to create a social club and I will be contacting a few venues in town to see if we can take this to the next level.

The strongest message I saw coming out of Devoted and Disgruntled was that the Vancouver Theatre scene desperately desires more community events, more opportunities for us to get together to talk, to laugh, to play and to create. It’s not just about getting bums in seats or subscribers on your list, it’s about finding a community that cares about what we do and visa versa. We want to break bread, raise our glasses and get back to the origins of theatre; sharing stories and coming together.

I’m very happy that I attended this conference and I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

My only critiques of this weekend would be:

  • Why weren’t more Artistic Directors/ Directors/ Actors/ Audience members in attendance? I was surprised to see so few graduates of my alma matter, Studio 58, there. Come on people, represent and get involved in your community!
  • The bathrooms in W2 need to be attended to more often. I mean, 10 a.m. and there are no paper towels? Really?

Thank you to the Greater Vancouver Theatre Alliance for sponsoring me as a blogger so that I could attend this event.

One Reply to “Chillin’ and Illin’”

  1. Sue Porter says:

    And thank you Sara for such a fantastic summary of the conference! As the person working behind the scenes, it was difficult for me to join is the conversations as much as I would have liked, so hearing about your experience from an attendee’s perspective was really great.

    You can blog my conferences any time! 🙂

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