July 27th, 2012 by

MusicWorks: Strategy Sessions


Just recently I had the pleasure of co-facilitating MusicWorks: Strategy Sessions with Rebecca Short, of Machteld Faas Xander. It was an amazing day that is going to lead to a very interesting and exciting future in the Kitchener community. For a visual story, see the photos courtesy of Stefan Myles, Fandy Photography. Stefan really captured the energy in the room. Rebecca has posted a blog with an overview of the event. Thanks to both.


Community Engagement in the Arts (February 21, 2012)

Increasingly we need to recognize that the arts started within the community and need to deeply involve the community if we are going to be successful. How do we, with our limited resources, take this on? Through partnerships, collaborations and invitation. ArtsJournal is an excellent site for keeping up to date with issues and solutions in the arts. One of the most recent posts, Shut Up and Listen, talks about listening to communities. Alan Brown, WolfBrown, informs us that we don’t listen to our audiences enough. A great deal can be gained from truly listening to members of the audience – from realizing how your organization’s values align with the audience, to how deeply they appreciate your presence in the community. Try it, but you must truly listen to gain.


The Value of Performing Arts

It was generally agreed by all that the show was “kind of rough” (tech wise). But after the show we learned that there was a 5 year old autistic child in the house. He had never spoken. But as the lights went down, he began to talk. In full sentences. He called the teacher by name. She had no idea he even knew her name. He was engaged in the show – at one point commenting to the teacher that if there is a dragon then there will be fire. And there was fire. He talked all throughout the show. When the lights came back up – he quit talking and returned to his world. So, yes, I could list all the little things that went wrong today but that is not what this show is about. And that little boy certainly didn’t see those things as he sat talking in the dark theatre watching Harold and his Purple Crayon.

from house manager report shared by Tim Jennings

We often don’t know what impact our work will have but we MUST trust that each performance leaves a mark on at least one in the audience changing the future of that child.


Acknowledging Another Person’s Bad Day

Returning from Tucson Arizona on January 9th, those connecting in Denver for travel to Canada were startled to learn they had to go to another gate to check-in. A change in gate left the staff unable to deal with passports. We joined a huge group of people trying to get onto their plane for Frankfurt. When I finally got to the front I joked to the harried gate attendant that she must be having a great time and then laughed. She looked at me and told me that I had no idea what a difference my smile and laughter made for her.

When in Grade 6, one of my favourite teachers wrote this in my autograph book and I realized yesterday how right he was.

Smile, for when you smile another smiles and soon there are miles and miles of smiles because you smile.


Consider your assets!

When undergoing strategic planning, organizations generally undertake a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats). During this process they often forget to take into account any assets that they have. These assets include partners, other organizations with which they have worked, organizations or individuals who have used their services or have values aligning with the organization’s purpose. Make certain to list these as well. They can help you consider ways to move your organization forward with assistance. Too often we think we have to do it alone, yet when we remember that others want to achieve similar goals and that there is strength in numbers, we can achieve more working together than alone.

Taking an inventory of your assets can also be a great morale booster. So, take a few minutes at least once annually to make certain you have up to date knowledge of all of your assets.


If you don’t like the answer……..Change the question!

This came from a workshop led by Brenda Zimmerman talking about the 1980’s and the World Health Organization working with Brazil and South Africa to try to find a way to deal with AIDS. At that time Brazil’s problem was worse than South Africa. The discussions came from scarcity and therefore costs for the plans were high and impossible for the countries to implement. Brazil did not like this approach and therefore determined what was available in abundance. Brazilian nuns became the mode of education and as a result the AIDS incidence is low.

We can take the same approach in our planning. If we run into an obstacle that seems to be preventing us from reaching our goals, look at it from all sides considering what resources are available to you. By working from the perspective of what you have rather than what you don’t have, you can move forward effectively.