New Audiences Are Not Unicorns

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When done right, self-service is a great option to offer customers. When done to merely cut costs, or when done with a poor understanding of the user, it’s mostly annoying. – Seth Godin

Patrons new to the arts are often surprised to learn that some of the highest-calibre artistic offerings in cities like Toronto are primarily presented by volunteer-run organizations (like the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto), or just a handful of full-time staff (like Soundstreams Canada or Alliance Française).

They accomplish the Herculean job of creating rich artistic experiences and eye-catching marketing materials with limited resources. These are the hidden miracles that arts professionals and volunteers work everyday, despite the thankless task. The personal fulfillment they take from the job is one of the reasons they stick around, despite the fraught realities confronting the arts.

It is this dedication that makes the challenge of attracting new audiences such a frustrating one. What more can be done to show the value of the arts? How much more can we give to the creation of unique and memorable artistic experiences? Read on…

What kind of Digital Future do the Performing Arts Deserve?

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“…digital networks will continue to be increasingly central to daily life and anticipates a time when they are regarded as a mundane, but vital part of the social infrastructure.” ~ Andrew Clement and Leslie Shade, “Access Rainbow” (PDF)

Infrastructures are essential yet invisible to us, even as they play a critical role in our everyday lives. Just imagine if our power grid goes out, roads collapse, or water ceases to flow in our homes. Unimaginable disruptions.

We are in an era of constructing digital infrastructures. From high profile projects like electronic health records, which requires the coordination of policy makers, creating of new jobs, and the partnership of various health organizations, to the less visible but no less impressive network of digital applications and social platforms. Read on…

BeMused Network Open House 2016

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BeMused Network Open House
“Building the Future of Performing Arts”

Guest Speaker: Ben Dietschi, Executive Director of Soundstreams Canada
Featured Performers: Jazz Pianist Ron Davis (Symphronica), Vocalist Janet Whiteway,
and Contemporary Dancers from the Chimera Project
November 29, 2016 • 5:30-7:30pmHeliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue) MAP
RSVP / Press Release


What does an arts-friendly and patron-focused ticketing service look like? What does it mean to build digital infrastructures for the arts? How can we empower the growing number of independent performing artists and organizations? Come meet the artists, patrons, and partners who have helped shape BeMused Network in the last three years, and how you can be a part of our vision to help artists focus on their art. Read on…

Building Digital Infrastructures for the Arts in Canada

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“If we wish a different world, it is necessary to design humane and liberating technologies that create the world as we wish it to be.” — Bonnie Nardi

What does it mean to build a digital infrastructure for the arts? What does it take?

A digital infrastructure is a network of independent systems that play nice with each other. I imagine a digital infrastructure that will exclusively serve the arts community, provide end-to-end services for their most pressing needs, and ensure its sustainability by evolving with the times we live in. Read on…

Music In the Barns brings Bolton’s “Song of Extinction” to Luminato

hearn_header(Credits: Photo by Photo by David Leyes for Luminato Festival)

Carol truly is a creative power house, and it is so apropos that her newest adventure will take place at The Hearn Generating Plant.

The entire story was cloaked in secrecy. There were no hard facts; no idea what the piece was actually about. Just a note asking if I’d be interested in writing a story. Slowly, it unfolded; Carol Gimbel, Girl At The Barns, an incredibly talented violist. A few days later, The Luminato Festival. A week later, arranging to meet. Clues dropped here and there, a tease for what was to come. The interview itself, almost a disaster. The busy Kensington Market coffee shop was packed; a cacophony of noises, impossible to single out any one voice. The recording device conked out (damn cell phone), so Carol was whisked away (to her consternation) to an unfamiliar backyard – the Photo Booth application running on the computer. We had a half hour to get this done. Read on…

Symphronica an Ever Evolving Series

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“I’m evolving as an artist. The best part of getting older is that we become more honest.”

Ron Davis, one of Toronto’s most vibrant jazz pianists, has been presenting his SymphRonica concerts at the Lula Lounge for nearly three years. His upcoming concert on May 31st, SymphRonica Meets the Dazzling Dancing Lombard Twins, is part of Lula’s 10th annual LulaWorld Festival, taking place this month, is one you don’t want to miss. Read on…

“I equal I” Breaks Musical Ground for Israeli-Iranian Dialogue

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Their chance meeting set in motion what would become the I = I collective’s mandate; that music can break down barriers that generations of propaganda and palpable threat of war had cemented.

The Concert Hall had lost power.  And while many producers might not have kept their cool, especially first timers, Dan Deutsch, founding member of the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative, came out on stage and created an intimate and informal environment.  As if at a dinner party, the audience reacted accordingly.  Toronto’s Alliance Francaise hosted this very special evening, the inaugural concert of the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative, on March 31st.  The Toronto Symphony’s Shalom Bard conducted.  Three new pieces written by the I = I Collective were the foundation of the concert.  Guest appearances by noted Persians, kamanche player Saeed Kamjoo and tar player Shahin Fayaz punctuated the Converging Paths concert.  Iranian Parisa Sabet, Israeli Dan Deutsch and Canadian Noam Lemish created I = I in 2013.  But the seed germinated in a synchronistic meeting at a University of Toronto social for new students, in the doctorate program for musical composition, a year earlier. Read on…

WMCT Career Development Award Concert

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The WMCT’s Career Development Award prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 – among the highest awards for classical music in Canada.

On Sunday April 26, I had the pleasure of attending the tenth presentation of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT)’s Career Development Award (CDA). Established 25 years ago and presented every 3 years, the CDA aims to assist “exceptional young Canadian musicians who are already engaged in a professional performing career.” This year’s finalists were chosen from 10 nominees by CBC producers over the past year. The live competition held in Water Hall featured the top three finalists, Pianist-Author Pierre-André Doucet, pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, and cellist Stéphane Tétreault for prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 – among the highest awards for classical music in Canada. Our gracious host for the afternoon was Julie Nesrallah of CBC Radio 2, who was absolutely delightful. Read on…

Meet Dana Michel, resident artist at Dancemakers

BLOG_header_meet_dana_mitchel_2015(Credits: Photo by Natalie Logan / “1976″ choreographed and performed by Dana Michel)

“…there is this contract written somewhere, whereby people will come and (witness) whatever it is you are after.”

Dana Michel is curled up in the corner of an old couch, one knee up, protective, like armour. She is a dancer and choreographer and the first year Resident Artist at Dancemakers Centre For Creation. Dana has already given one interview and I think would prefer to chill out before rehearsing for her revamp of 1976. We are in the rehearsal space at The Distillery District. The period building’s high ceilings and bright light from the massive windows are perfect to magnify the energy of this intense woman. We had a chance to chat about how she journeyed from the practical world of accounting and her job as a medical secretary. But the turning point in which she began dancing, choreographing and performing professionally, in what would be considered late in a dancer’s career, was seminal. Read on…

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