(Today, Feb 7 at 5:00 is the final day they are accepting submissions so, I thought I would send this out one more time for good luck!)
Ego v.s. Passion
Recently the Town of Gravenhurst posted an ad for the position of Manager of Arts and Culture. To say that I want the job is an understatement. I am the job. This isn’t an over-inflated ego speaking. It’s passion. In fact, one could say that I have been vying for the position for some time now. And now, admittedly, I am campaigning for it!
The position, Manager of Arts and Culture for the town, includes overseeing its famous Opera House. This is a facility I have a history with that goes back to its 100th Anniversary in 2001, for which I was commissioned to create my summer musical “Scenes From My Dock!”. It played to packed houses. Previous to that, the Opera House was home to a variety of professional theatre companies and a presenter of many great concerts and events. However, over the past decade the place has never experienced the buzz that was present since its centennial celebration. Its citizens have continuously expressed to me, and their council, of their concern for the lack of good programming and the financial drain the venue creates on the the town’s coffers.
This job is the sum total of everything I’ve been doing!
You can click here. I have the qualifications. I’ve managed teams of individuals of all sizes and produced award winning results with budgets from nil to over a million. I’ve raised money through sponsorship, fundraising, government grants, advertising and audience development. I’ve negotiated contracts and worked with professional union members, amateurs, agents, volunteers, actors, directors, writers, dancers, musicians, designers, artists, publicists, backstage crew, media, etc. , etc.. I know what it’s like to work with local government and have been a familiar face to most of the regional councils over the past twenty years. I’m not just a theatre guy but my experience branches into the visual, television and film arts. I am and have always been a big supporter and promoter of Muskoka with a keen interest in its history. (Even my award-winning screenplay “The Grass Widow of Muskoka”, based on my play “Quiet! I’m Talking”, to be a filmed in Muskoka, brings to life the region’s past and present lore.)
On the business side, I spent years in marketing, including working for various corporate clients and advertising agencies. I understand the importance of sponsorship and appreciate the value that lies in the Muskoka brand. And when it comes to understanding the nuts and bolts of an old building, my personal experience, not only with producing in and running a variety of theatre venues, but in real estate and ownership for the past thirty years, has given me a fairly good working knowledge of the mechanics. I recognize that the Gravenhurst Opera House is a valuable icon and an integral part of not only the town’s, but the whole Muskoka region’s, history. I believe the position of Manager of Arts and Culture goes beyond just the building itself and includes stimulating the cultural fabric of the entire town. It’s a position that must lead a unified effort from amongst the many special interests within the pool of citizens, creating a greater sense of community pride. It’s a position that must always look at the bottom line and strive towards sustainability in a very competitive environment. It’s also a position that must see arts and culture take an active role in reviving the town’s core and stimulate the local economy.
Culture is more than art!
I also understand the challenges that increased competition (both regionally and nationally), changing demographics, digital age media, and budget restraints present. I am well aware that one must develop creative solutions in order to sustain and support arts and cultural activity. And finally, the fact that the position is not just “arts manager” means one must have an understanding that cultural activity isn’t just theatre, film and visual art, but includes other interests that make up the Town of Gravenhurst community.
So far my efforts to “campaign” for the position have not gone unnoticed. Many have sent in an email of support to the human resources on my behalf. (Be my guest HumanResources@gravenhurst.ca). Some have commented that they have never seen such an enthusiastic pitch for a a government job! On the other hand, others have warned me that I may come across as “too aggressive”, turn them off and that I am being “too public”. Well, the job is, or at least should be, very public. The person must be out there promoting and being involved. This is what a leader does. That is how one remains accountable to the people paying their salary.
I choose to believe that those making the hiring decision want to see change to the status quo and are interested in a person who can show leadership, creativity and have a genuine interest in the well being of the Town of Gravenhurst. That person is me.
Partnerships. Good for everyone!
As far as my vision for the Village of Rosseau, I see this as a perfect opportunity for a partnership. The challenge with Rosseau is that it is very small and it lacks facilities and a substantial permanent population, however it is located at the opposite end of Muskoka and in the designated region of Northern Ontario. A partnership lends itself to shared activity and access to Northern funding not available the the Town of Gravenhurst. Although there would be some overlap, there would also be the potential to reach a greater audience with more activity. So therefore, Rosseau could be a satellite to Gravenhurst, and funding agencies love partnerships.
You get one life to live. Go for it!
My application for the position could have been simple and I could have just sent in a resume. But that’s not me. Instead, I have chosen to be very public and demonstrate just a smidgen of the effort I would exert if hired.
Using music I wrote for previous assignments and new graphics I created for original projects I have or am developing, here’s a sample of some of the artistic and cultural activity I would bring to the Opera House and the Town of Gravenhurst. Enjoy.