I am working on a piece for SummerWorks called Invitations/Into/Traces (or) all I want to do is invent a machine, which creates surprises. It is a piece that explores the relationship between audience member and performer. In the words of the creator & performer Cara Spooner: “I’m trying a new approach to making performance. Rather than me doing some stuff in front of you while you sit in the dark, I’m attempting to create something with the audience’s experience in mind. It’s a show about you and me : you, the audience and me, the performer.
It’s about how we interact and how we see each other.”
My role is the producer, which means I have been helping Cara develop and distribute all the promotional materials for the show, including posters, flyers, a social media campaign on Twitter & Facebook, press releases, and interviews. I also helped create and manage our budget based on our estimated ticket sales, fundraising, and costs to develop and put on the show.
I think the role of producer is valuable because it allows the performers to focus more of their attention on what they do best: creating great art. I have a theatre and music background, but my formal education is in business, so I try to use those skills in a way that is complementary to the artists I work with. I try to help find the balance between creative integrity and commercial success.
2. Why do you engage with the SummerWorks Performance Festival? What has it taught you as an artist?
I was invited to support Cara in the roll of Producer for this production, so my engagement in SummerWorks is directly through her. I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for artists to present their work to a new audience, but also to meet and perform alongside other incredible artists doing great work. Producing a piece for a festival can be difficult, as you are one of many options for audience members to choose. It is important to find ways to stand out, especially with so many renowned artists participating. For us, we are one of the only dance/movement based pieces in the festival, and we are also one of only three pieces chosen as an ‘off-site’ work (the show takes place in the beautiful Gladstone Hotel), so I hope that will catch people’s attention.
3. What advice would you give to a newbie SummerWorks attendee so that they really get a feel for the festival?
I am a SummerWorks newbie too – so ask me again in a few weeks! I have been an audience member in the past, and would usually just read up on the reviews or ask friends for recommendations. I think what is exciting about this year’s festival is all the great, non-theatre pieces – Bry Webb is part of the music series, the Performance Bar is being curated by Erin Brubacher (who totally rocks), and I think this is also the first year for a live art series which should be very interesting. This year I plan on hanging out a bunch at the Gladstone for the performances of Invitations/Into/Traces, and asking our audience members for recommendations of what else they’ve seen and loved.
4. Why do you think SummerWorks is important to the Toronto, and national, arts scene?
SummerWorks presents audiences with some really fantastic options for new and interesting works. Because the festival is curated, you know there will be a beautiful mix of genres, mediums, and subject matters addressed festival-wide. And it puts Toronto on the map for performance-based art; not just theatre or music.
5. There’s never enough time to flesh out all we want to in our jobs, so what do you wish you had more time to do with your job?
I would love to engage more with other producers and PR experts to learn from their successes and challenges with producing festival shows. I would also love to find ways to engage more with our audience members through social media before & after the show. That’s something I’m very interested in.
6. Female, artistic/creative influences; who were yours?
I am very fortunate to be able to surround myself with incredible female artists who live their artistic dreams every day. Local artists currently inspiring me: Cara Spooner herself, fabulous roommates and creators of great art Emilee Nimetz & Nicola Atkinson, and Miss Ashley Rowe (reporting live). Non-local artists who always inspires me: my mother.
7. Finish this sentence: If the SummerWorks Performance Festival were a woman, she would… definitely be invited to my next dinner party.
8. Money, (wo)man power, and time aren’t issues: what do you want SummerWorks to do next?
Provide more opportunities for artist collaboration, learning, workshops, etc. – create more chances to learn from each other and create together, outside the scope of the planned performances.