Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Canadian War Museum ~ Volunteers Repeat History










Canadian War Museum
Ontario Visited ~ Judi McWilliams


Ontario Visited had the privilege of spending some time speaking with Dr. Peter MacLeod, Historian, Pre-Confederation with the Canadian War Museum.  The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.

“History is Objective” …. “It Does Matter”
Exceprt from Interview with the Canadian War Museum, featuring Dr. Peter MacLeod, Historian, Pre-Confederation
VOLUNTEERS repeat HISTORY…. A Key to Success!
Volunteers play a key role in our society today. I myself volunteer at a local Pioneer Village and Museum. My role is Volunteer Appreciation Liaison. Here, I can clearly see the critical role Volunteers/Interpreters take in continuing to educate the public’s understanding of our great Canadian History. Volunteers are a vital part of our society in maintaining the ongoing pursuits to provide continued education and awareness. I wondered if the Canadian War Museum – War of 1812 Exhibition had a system to help keep the volunteers organized and could they share some of their “techniques” with us! I also asked if they could share with us some systems on managing so many volunteers! The reply…“Volunteer support is very important for the Canadian War Museum and we are very fortunate to have many veterans and civilian volunteers involved in many areas of the Museum. Canadian history and more specifically in our own case, Canadian military history, is a subject of great significance to many who come to us hoping to share their insights with visitors and Museum colleagues.”  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Canadian War Museum ~ Keys to Success










Canadian War Museum
Ontario Visited ~ Judi McWilliams


Ontario Visited had the privilege of spending some time speaking with Dr. Peter MacLeod, Historian, Pre-Confederation with the Canadian War Museum.  The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.
“History is Objective” …. “It Does Matter”
Exceprt from Interview with the Canadian War Museum, featuring Dr. Peter MacLeod, Historian, Pre-Confederation
FUNDING & SPONSORSHIP … A Key to Success …
With the economic challenges today, it would seem it critical to obtain/maintain Sponsor Funding and Other Sources of funding. I asked the Canadian War Museum how they obtained funding, particularly for the War of 1812 Exhibition. During our interview Dr. Peter MacLeod spoke of the unique relationship with their sponsors in that they hold a similar raison d’être. …“We are very pleased to have TD as a National Presenting Sponsor and Ancestry.ca as the National Supporting Sponsor for 1812. TD is an active corporate community member interested in supporting culture, history and education. Ancestry.ca’s mission involves connecting Canadians to their unique family stories. Sponsoring 1812 allows each organization to further support their mandate and community engagement.
Stay tuned for more with the Canadian War Museum


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - "Weekend Warrior" ...














“Weekend Warrior”

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

With the economic challenges today, it would seem it critical to obtain/maintain Sponsor funding and Other Sources of funding. How you go about obtain funding? The Jazz & Blues in the Village Committee tells us … “We have two individuals who work hard at meeting face to face with current and potential sponsors.  They begin the process by presenting a formal sponsorship package to interested parties.” I asked how they kept “Sponsors” interested in supporting your efforts and “keep them happy”? The Committee says …“We offer incentives to our sponsors based on the level of sponsorship.  Incentives may include branded sign in the park and on the video screens, listing on our sponsorship board and in our brochure and poster, free t-shirts, free tickets and a thank you plaque after the event.  Sponsors are also invited to our Sneak Preview held in April to announce the line-up for the upcoming festival in September.”

Over the course of the year, I am collecting some anecdotes to publish. Do you have something you would like to share in our THE INSIDE SCOOP special “anecdote” edition? The final response …“One year we had a performer that was very upset that his shirt was wrinkled.  Our festival director went home got an iron and brought it back to the weekend warrior responsible for the green room. She pressed the shirt, everyone was happy and the show went on.  We always try to keep our performers comfortable and happy...”

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - Secrets & Techniques ...














“Secrets & Techniques” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

For many festivals and events, it is critical to have volunteers! For this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP I still have a few questions for you here. Can you share with us some techniques on managing so many volunteers? During the Jazz & Blues in the Village it would seem the organizers would need to maintain their professionalism and composure. Perhaps volunteers/vendors/visitors require your attention at peak moments during an event (problems that need immediate answers).  I wondered if you have a system to help you stay organized and could you share some of your “secrets” with us! The reply …“Secrets and techniques:  We have one person who is responsible for organizing and scheduling all the volunteers.  There is a master list of over 250 volunteers and each year we start by contacting that list to see who is available.  In most cases we have more volunteers than available shifts.  Many of our volunteers have been with us since the first festival, nine years ago.  Our organizational structure has a “weekend warrior” who is responsible for each area in the park.  (For example, there is a “weekend warrior” in charge of main gate; one for the bar; one for bar tickets; one for security; one for park setup; one for popcorn etc. There are at least 12 of these weekend warriors who in turn are responsible for the volunteers for their area.  The weekend warriors are available all weekend to help their volunteers.  This frees up the committee members to deal with any issues that arise and help out.)”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - The Biggest Challenge ...














“The Biggest Challenge” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

I asked the Committee, “What are some of the challenges in organizing and presenting the Festival that the “visitors” do not see”? The reply … “Our biggest challenge is funding.  As a charity fundraiser we do not qualify for any art or tourism grants from local or provincial government sources.  It is difficult to compete with the free jazz and blues festivals around the province.  Most “visitors” find it hard to believe that we have to pay full scale plus expenses for the bands.  We rely on revenue from sponsors and ticket sales to cover our costs, plus generate funds for the charity.”  So how do they overcome some of these challenges? … “The last two years our marketing campaign has tried to focus on the fact that the event is a charity fundraiser.” How does Jazz & Blues in the Villagekeep things fresh” for the patrons and vendors? “We always try to bring in new entertainers, although fan favourites have been brought back for repeat performances.  We try to address feedback related to our food vendors.  For example this year we have tried to partner with more local restaurants and provide healthier options. Each year we try to add in something new like cheese and cracker plates to go with the wine.” I asked if the Committee could share some “problem solving techniques” used during this special event! (For example … a busload of visitors that were not planned for, weather conditions, volunteers/staff being absent due to unforeseen emergencies, running out of “supplies” during an event, etc.) … The Committee says …“We have had to deal with all the above over the years and have contingency plans in place.” I would like to asked similar questions about organizational techniques, problems solving techniques with respect to coordinating the Vendors and Performers and other key participants during Jazz & Blues in the Village. They share with us …“We have individuals on the planning committee who are responsible for the following areas: Music, food vendors, marketing and promotion, sponsors and grounds.  During the festival each committee member oversees their particular area of responsibility dealing with any problems.”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - Two small groups are better than one ...














“Two small groups are better than one” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

My next question to the Committee … What was the philosophy and thought process of the decisions in respect to the concepts, activities, themes, events for Jazz & Blues in the Village? “The idea of a jazz festival grew out of the identification of a need to raise the profile of our charity, increase the funds available to support patients and a desire to offer something to the community.  We did not view direct fund raising as an appropriate means to raise funds but wanted to offer a unique event.  At the time, 2003-2004, jazz festivals were just appearing on the summer entertainment scene across Ontario and Canada.  The original concept was to start small and grow recognizing that it would take a minimum of 5 years to break even.  Because we are a very small, local charity we knew we could not develop the event on our own and so we invited the Mitton Business Development Association (a small shopping/business area long ignored by the City of Sarnia) to join with us in producing the festival thinking that two small groups could do good work together.  Some original aspects of the festival such as providing food were necessary to comply with liquor license requirements.  The vision of the founders was a street festival that would see the involvement of merchants with sidewalk sales/activities, strolling musicians, secondary stages along the street and the main stage in the municipal parking lot.   For the third year the festival relocated and the involvement of the merchants decreased as issues arose around the closure of the street.  We were invited to hold the festival at a city-owned park close by and the event morphed into more of a neighbourhood fall festival. The business owner who was the then chair of the BDA and his entire family are still involved in the festival with his wife Donna serving as our Festival Director.  A couple of businesses continue as sponsors.    We offer unique aspects with our festival including decorating the park with cornstalks and scarecrows.  Jazz & Blues in the Village is not just music in a park but is “a unique experience” as we invite people to “come and party under our tent”.
 
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village - Sarnia - Demographics & Planning














“Demographics’ & Planning”

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

Sometimes I wonder what types of people are interested in attending certain events/festivals. I asked the Committee … What is their demographic makeup, who attends … They state … “Although the key demographic group is probably 40 plus, the festival attracts people of all age groups from babies in buggies to great grandparents.  Friday and Saturday night Blues attracts a more youthful audience than our Saturday afternoon Jazz.  The last couple of years we have begun to attract more of the under 30 crowd to Saturday afternoon.” I find that it is wise to be aware of the key demographic groups to gear the activities to reflect this makeup. So just how far in advance do they “plan”… The answer …“We hold our windup party in October and our first planning meeting for the next year is in November.  We target to have our bands contracted by the end of February.”

During my interview, I will be writing (to enlighten Ontario Visited website visitors) some brief information about some of the signature events for this years Jazz & Blues in the Village. Is there anything you would like to add to enlighten our readers, particularly for this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP?
“Our Saturday night blues is normally two different performers, an opening act and our headliner.  This year we are changing it up a little with Jack de Keyzer and friends doing the entire evening from 7:30 – 11:00.  Joining Jack for the evening are Jerome Godboo, Rick Taylor and Tim Woodcock.  It will be a little different but we think a lot of fun and great music.”

(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - SODA & The Festival














SODA & The Festival
Impact in our Society Today ...

GettingTHE INSIDE SCOOPI focused on some specific questions that may help festivals, events, organizers, and others interested in SUCCESS in their endeavors and enhance the visitor’s knowledge!


I asked the Committee, how important is the “Jazz & Blues in the Village” focus of SODA aspect of this festival and how does it impact our society today? Otherwise stated … Why do you think Jazz & Blues in the Village is an important part of our society and the community today and what role do you see as its importance? The reply …“The importance of organ/tissue donation and transplantation continues to increase.  Jazz and Blues in the Village has allowed SODA to bring this important issue before the people of our community and the surrounding areas.  It uses music to connect to people of all ages and to spread the message about this important issue.  The Sarnia/Lambton donor registration rate has grown well above the Ontario average of 21% to 38%.  During each festival we honour donors, recipients, those on waiting lists and medical professionals through our opening ceremony.  A candle lit during the opening ceremony burns during the festival.”

“Key to Success”

My next question might interest other festivals/event organizers as I asked what the Committee attributed the success of Jazz & Blues in the Village to. Their “key to success” … “We attribute our success to the consistently high caliber of performers, good food, dedicated volunteers, sponsors and the up close and personal feel of the festival.  To quote attendees “the festival has never disappointed, it is always a great party”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - SODA














Introducing Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia
SODA

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee. This year the Festival takes place September 14 & 15th in McGibbon Park, Sarnia. I wanted to share with you a little about this wonderful event. …Jazz & Blues in the Village is not just music in a park but is “a unique experience” as we invite people to “come and party under our tent”. 

Jazz & Blues in the Village is a charity fundraiser for the Sarnia Organ Donor’s Awareness Group. At McGibbon Park, in heart of the city, hundreds of people will enjoy a unique intimate festival experience. Weather under the heated tent (the evenings in September are cool) or among the sun and stars, at a table or on your cozy lawn chair, you can enjoy the sights and sounds.

“In 1994, the Sarnia Organ Donor’s Awareness group (SODA) was founded by two organ recipients, David Tully and Pat McLean. Their desire was to give something back to their community for the gift of new life they had been given.”

“SODA is a registered charity whose work is undertaken by a small but dedicated group of volunteers. We are not part of a national or provincial group and all money raised stays within Lambton County.”

The SODA mission “to increase public awareness of the need for organ and tissue donors; to provide support to a recipient before, during and following their surgery, to assist families with medical and other related costs, which may occur before, during and following transplantation; to provide funding to our local research facility to assist ongoing research in the area of transplantation; to educate the general public on organ and tissue donation”

“Several years ago, we recognized the need for SODA to have a “signature” event that would help increase the profile of our charity within Sarnia/Lambton and at the same time would generate additional funds to help support local families going through organ/tissue donation and/or transplantation. From that need has grown the music festival now known as “Jazz & Blues in the Village”. The festival takes place the third weekend of September and has become a true community event with many local businesses, individuals, volunteers and jazz and blues enthusiasts whole-heartedly embracing our event. Through this event SODA’s profile in our community has indeed grown!”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE

Judy McWhirter
Buckhorn Community Centre
Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Celebrating 35 Years


"Keep Smilin"

"THE INSIDE SCOOP" continues speaking with Judy McWhirter, Manager of the Buckhorn Community Centre. I go on to ask Manager Judy McWhirter.
 
During my interview with you Judy, I will be writing (to enlighten Ontario Visited website visitors) some brief information about some of the signature events held at the Buckhorn Community Centre, particularly for this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP? "The Buckhorn Community Centre offers a wide range of major fund-raising activities throughout the year. Checkout our EVENTS CALENDAR regularly for upcoming events. As a not-for-profit organization, the BCC depends on these activities to meet its operating budget each year."

I asked Ms. McWhirter how does the Buckhorn Community Centre "keep things fresh" for the patrons and vendors? We learn here that ..."Well, I think the vendors with improvements at the BCC and know that we are working keeping the BCC up-to-date, making sure that there is always something new."

One question I like to ask festival/events I asked Judy, "Why do you think the Buckhorn Community Centre is an important part of our society and the community today and what role do you see as its importance? She replies . "The BCC is a meeting place, gathering groups, holding activities. It's a great place for events as it is unique. For residents and cottagers it is a great way to join a centre and get involved, meet new people and contribute to your area."

With the economic challenges today, it would seem it critical to obtain/maintain Sponsor funding and Other Sources of funding. How you go about obtain funding? Judy tells us . "We actually do not have a lot of sponsors, we are rural. We are always looking for Grants."

 Over the course of the year, I am collecting some anecdotes to publish. I asked Judy if she something you would like to share in our THE INSIDE SCOOP special "anecdote" edition? Simply she replied . "Keep Smilin"!
Check out Buckhorn Community Website at http://www.buckhorncommunitycentre.com/

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE

Judy McWhirter
Buckhorn Community Centre

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Celebrating 35 Years

"Challenges on the way to success"

"THE INSIDE SCOOP" continues speaking with Judy McWhirter, Manager of the Buckhorn Community Centre.

Leading back to Judy's role, planning the year's events at the Buckhorn Community Centre would be a great undertaking. Judy tells us ... "I know when our major events are always a year in advance and she is aware of when the holiday lands in most cases." This year is a special year for the BCC and the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival celebrating 35 years of success! She tells us that the initial event was created to raise money to pay off the mortgage. The SCOOP is that there are some of the challenges that the "visitors" do not see. Judy made me laugh when she said ... "Rules and Regulations that even I have to follow".

Sadly though, she reports the demise of one event (Fiesta Buckhorn) which was a sad loss. From the BCC website . "It is with great regret that the Buckhorn Community Centre Board of Directors announces that after 16 years Fiesta Buckhorn has been cancelled. This decision was made due to the enforcement of the Liquor License Act regulations pertaining to not-for-profit fundraisers held under a Special Occasion Permit or an existing Liquor License. We will continue to monitor the rules and regulations of the Liquor License Act and should updates be made to it that allow us to return to the original 16 year old format we may revisit this situation. We thank all our exhibitors, volunteers and visitors to Fiesta Buckhorn for your support and attendance over the 16 years."

So how does a festival/event overcome some of thee challenges? Ms. McWhirter states ... "Complain? ... Lobby our politicians for helping network with other events with what they are doing".
 (To Be Continued)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE

Judy McWhirter
Buckhorn Community Centre

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Celebrating 35 Years

"The Concept"  

"THE INSIDE SCOOP" continues speaking with Judy McWhirter, Manager of the Buckhorn Community Centre. I go on to ask Manager Judy McWhirter.

Some festivals/events gear their activities and focus on specific demographic makeup of attendees? In other words, it is helpful to identify the types of visitors attend the many diverse Festivals & Events offer. Judy tells us their focus is towards many groups, including ... Young couples, school groups, seniors, geographic areas travelled from to visit, economic status, attracting each at some point during the year. In discussing this, we wondered what the philosophy and thought process of the decisions in respect to the concepts, activities, themes, events at the Buckhorn Community Centre? Ms. McWhirter states ... "When the BCC was built; members of the Community felt Buckhorn needed a larger place to hold dances ... that had indoor plumbing". As stated on the Buckhorn Community Centre's website ... "Would you mortgage your home to help build a community centre? Well, incredibly, 30 years ago a group of very special people had a dream and a vision. They saw the need for a community centre in Buckhorn. These courageous and generous people actually did mortgage their homes to realize their dream. With the help of Wintario funding, they built our Buckhorn Community Centre." "Construction of the original building was started in the fall of 1977 and completed in the spring of 1978. For the original building, the designer was Dave Rome, the architect George Hilton and the builder John Chretien. The Buckhorn Community Centre opened its doors to the public in March 1978 with activities such as dancing, bingo and floor hockey that year. That spring, President Bob Creighton approached local artist Edwin Matthews with an idea to have an art show as a fundraiser to help pay the mortgage. That is how the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival and Sale began. At the time, no one knew if people would want to come to a little hamlet like Buckhorn to enjoy and buy art. Various committees were set up by the Centre to start the process. Edwin Matthews organized our "Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival" project with incredible enthusiasm and vision and the rest, as they say, is history. By 1994, many of our events had outgrown the facility. Ontario Infrastructure funding enabled our Centre to build an addition doubling the size of the building. In 2007, the Buckhorn Community Centre celebrated 30 successful years of service to the community".
 (To Be Continued)





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE

Judy McWhirter
Buckhorn Community Centre

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Celebrating 35 Years

"Key to Success … LISTS"

"THE INSIDE SCOOP" continues speaking with Judy McWhirter, Manager of the Buckhorn Community Centre. I go on to ask Manager Judy McWhirter.

"To be as successful as you are Judy, it would seem you would need to maintain your professionalize and composure. Perhaps volunteers/vendors/visitors require your attention at peak moments during an event (problems that need immediate answers). I wondered if you have a system to help you stay organized and could you share some of your "secrets" with us! " The reply ... "LISTS! ... What has to be done . check it off it you do it. Have some key volunteers that will make decisions on things". Can you share some "problem solving techniques" used during a special event! (For example . a busload of visitors that were not planned for, weather conditions, volunteers/staff being absent due to unforeseen emergencies, running out of "supplies" during an event, etc.) Ms. McWhirter states . "Always try to book floater volunteers in case someone forgets to come or is ill. Depending on the supplies, always have something in back-up. Think ahead if the weather will be inclement and try to be prepared!"
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE

Judy McWhirter
Buckhorn Community Centre




Interview with Judy MCWHIRTER - BUCKHORN COMMUNITY CENTRE
Celebrating 35 Years


"Volunteers"

Getting "THE INSIDE SCOOP" Ontario Visited focuses on specific questions that may help festivals, events, organizers, and others interested in SUCCESS in their endeavors! For this edition, I was fortunate to grab a few moments with Judy McWhirter, Manager of the Buckhorn Community Centre.
Judy McWhirter has been involved with the Buckhorn Community Centre for 28 years. Starting as a part-time cleaner, she now has spent the last 26 years as the Manager. I wondered if Judy had any previous experience to which she tells me "no experience what so ever!" With the success of the Buckhorn Community Centre, it is clear that Judy was a quick study. Some of the daily duties/roles at the Centre include booking, creating event, managing volunteers and I would imagine lots more.
For many festivals and events, it is critical to have volunteers! I said to Judy ..."You have a wonderful program available and in place Judy, congratulations! I will be writing "excerpts" from your program to share with THE INSIDE SCOOP readers, but I still have a few questions for you here. I asked Ms. McWhirter what she attributes the success and longevity the Buckhorn Community Centre. She replies ... "Our volunteers are awesome and dedicated to the BCC's success". I asked Judy if she could share with us some techniques on managing so many volunteers. She states ... "Always, Always, Always have coffee breaks, water, and snacks and feed them!" Also ... "You can never say thank you enough!"
 (To Be Continued)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer








Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will finish this THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer. I was wondering what advice you might give to others in the field that may just be starting out, THE INSIDE SCOOP as it were? Excellent answer from Donna … “Follow your heart and plan, plan, plan. Give to your community”.
Over the course of the year, I am collecting some anecdotes to publish. I asked Donna if she had something she would like to share in our THE INSIDE SCOOP special “anecdote” edition …“Artists consistently comment on the beauty of the barn and the meadow and how inspiring it is to be performing on the stage and see the fields, daisies and sunny skies.” “Due to the open nature of the facility, Meadow Passes allow listeners to experience the music from the surrounding grounds. Sit at one of the picnic tables or on a bench next to the pond. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the music al fresco! Feel free to bring a picnic or order a picnic basket from Westben. Meadow Passes are half the price of a ticket inside The Barn and are available on the day of performance (weather permitting) 90 minutes before performance time. Please call ahead to make sure they are available.”
The Westben Arts Festival Theatre website is fantastic for all the information you will need in planning your visit. I highly recommend attending! See their great website at http://www.westben.ca/.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer












Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will continue with THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer.

My next question to Ms. Bennett was did she encourage the youth of today to attend performances? Ms. Bennett replies … “Education is important to Westben both for the Youth and Life Long Learners. We have 3 choruses – the Adult Festival Chorus and Youth and Teen chorus, where they learn technique of singing and performing, languages, styles of music, ear training etc. We bring professional artists into the schools and school children to the Barn. At times we have concerts geared for kids. All professional concerts only cost $5 for children 18 and under.”

Westben is located in the vibrant community of Campbellford. Previously Donna stated that the community was strong, talented and energetic. She tells us that … “Westben has great community support through schools, businesses and volunteers – tourism and arts and culture groups.” "Brimming with enthusiasm, Donna and Brian led the young organization in building a new concert hall to reflect the co-founders’ multi-faceted artistic vision. This new facility must be acoustically suited for classical music, accessible for audiences, in both comfort and style, and harmonious with the surrounding farmland."...

The Westben Arts Festival Theatre is extremely accomplished and clearly passionate and dedicated to these Arts! I was able to ask Ms. Bennett why she thought the Westben Arts Festival Theatre is an important part of our society today and what role do you see as its importance? … The reply … “My goal is to introduce and share music with my community. Arts can change lives and open doors to new feelings and thoughts. I just want to make a difference in people’s lives.” I asked Donna where did they draw the performances/performers from and what would the process be to be accepted at Westben to perform. … The reply … “Brian receives numerous emails and CD’s from artists across the country, us and Europe. He does a lot of research and also has a talent for bringing artists together for new projects.”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer












Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will continue with THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer.

  “In 1999, The Westben Arts Festival Theatre was formed as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating, enriching and integrating professionals and amateurs in musical projects and educational activities. Run by a Board of Directors, Westben received its charitable status in 2000.” My question to Donna … “As Westben has it's 'Charitable Status", does it have fundraising events, and if so, can you describe what you choose to do and why. Perhaps discuss the pitfalls and successes here.” … Ms. Bennett’s reply here … “We have an annual fundraiser – the last concert in August (this year is August 5th called The Big Band Theory celebrating Gershwin with pianist and AD of Westben – Brian Finley and the Brian Barlow Big Band. We also do 2 small fundraisers through out the year and sell Fundscript cards.”

Many times I like to find the SCOOP about how festivals/events “keep things fresh” for the patrons and actors? I know many festivals/events offer visitors/participants alike things like new fresh healthy choice foods, shaded rest areas, cool water sources and such. Donna tells us … “This is always a challenge. We try to do something new – an upgrade on site every season – this year we have a new trailer of flush washrooms – thanks to Celebrate Ontario and Brian always keeps the programming fresh and interesting.” A comforting and welcomed new upgrade indeed!

“Co–founders, Brian Finley (Artistic Director) and Donna Bennett (Marketing Director), lead Westben’s wonderfully energetic full-time staff of five. The 12-member Board of Directors heads up a huge support team of volunteers, sponsors, donors and members. Westben also appreciates the support from all levels of government and several foundations.” I was able to ask Ms. Bennett what are her duties/roles prior to and during a production? She states … “This is a huge topic. We have a year round box office organizing sales, marketing, grants, memberships, sponsorships, production. The day of each concert there is a production ritual of getting the on site box office ready and grounds prepped and Barn prepared.” This led me to my next question … “What are some of the challenges that the “audience” does not see?” Behind the scenes as it were. Often, event/festival organizers reply is about lighting issues, timing, choreography, weather conditions and so on. Donna simply replies … “Funding”.
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer












Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will continue with THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer.

A little history about Westben “Westben’s primary venue, The Barn is located three kilometres north-west of Campbellford, on gently rolling farmland previously owned by three generations of the West family. West School and West Cemetery lie just to the north, while the area’s principal brick-making machine sits in retirement in the front field. Purchased by the Bennett family in the 1960’s, the area was dubbed “Westben,” Westben’s co-founders, Donna Bennett & Brian Finley built The Barn in 2000 with the help of the community. The Westben Board of Directors formed in 1999 and received charitable status in the year 2000. Conceived to compliment its naturally beautiful setting, the timber-frame structure was designed and built by Didier Schvartz of Lakefield’s Sun Wood Company. With its massive fir and hemlock beams and locally-milled pine ceiling, The Barn has excellent acoustics. Walls and doors roll back to allow music to waft over the surrounding meadow. The stage is elevated by 4 feet. 300 cushioned theatre seats are located directly in front of the stage in 20 rows of 15 seats, all with an unobstructed view. Each of the two wings can accommodate an additional 50 chairs which offer good proximity to the stage and generally good sight-lines. These seats are offered at a discounted rate.” This year, Westben "is trilled to present the world premiere of a brand new Canadian Folk Opera, The Auction".

I was wondering how Donna chose the direction of the thyme for the season and what the process entails. Ms. Bennett shares with us … “We wanted to open the Concerts at The Barn Season with the premiere of this new opera.”

For many festivals and events, it is critical to have volunteers! ... I asked Donna how many volunteers Westben required for the season and do you have any systems in place to “keep them happy”. I wasn’t surprised to learn ... “Westben has an amazing volunteer coordinator – Marilyn Keene who had 2 assistants that organized 250 volunteers. It takes 10-20 volunteers on site per concert.”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer







Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

For this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP, I bring to you Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer. “Bringing culture and nature together in perfect harmony, the magnificent 400–seat timber-frame barn opens onto a lush meadow, surrounded by the gently rolling hills of Northumberland County. The stage hosts an incredible array of renowned Canadian and international artists, from full symphony orchestras & choruses to chamber music and soloists. The best in class in a relaxed country setting!”

I begin with asking Ms. Bennett …. “It was noted that you were enjoying your international career as a soprano, when in 1990 you returned to your hometown, Campbellford. We were interested to learn about your background what led you to this career?” Donna replied … “I grew up in Campbellford and came from a musical family. Have a Bachelor of Music in voice from U of T (where I met Brian) and a Masters of Music in voice performance from Munich. Studied at opera schools in London, England, Banff and Victoria. Sang professionally in England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, US and Canada – see bio.”
As mentioned above, in 1990, soprano Donna Bennett and pianist /composer Brian Finley were enjoying the early stages of international careers. Having lived and worked for several years in Europe, they returned to Donna’s hometown of Campbellford, Ontario to start a family. Inspired by the talented and energetic community, the couple shared their love of music making by performing and hosting events at local venues. They also began teaching advanced level music students and leading the music program at St. John’s United Church in Campbellford. I asked Donna if she still taught advanced level music students and was she still leading the music program at St. John’s United Church in Campbellford? Donna tells us … “I teach privately and at Trinity College School in Port Hope - no longer at St John’s. I lead the Westben Youth and Teen Chorus (40 children)”.

I was wondering if Donna got to enjoy watching the performances. She said … “My first opera was when I was 15 and my mom took me to Toronto to see Die Walkure by Wagner by the Canadian Opera Company. I later sang professionally in the chorus and then leading roles. I see all the performances at Westben and it gives me great joy.” In fairness to all, Donna tells us that she enjoys “the variety of performers that come to Westben”. If you ever get to attend Westben, you can enjoy its’ magical blend of world class music, wonderful people and a magnificent setting.
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gardens Plus ... The Scoop, The Spade & The Shovel ...














"Will you remember this advice"
Dawn Tack, Owner, Gardens Plus
Part 2 …

More fun INSIDE SCOOP with Gardens Plus owner Dawn Tack, sharing some of Dawn’s “tips” so you might avoid some of the “challenges” that I did while planting…..

Full Sun (Southern or West exposure)

Coreopsis 'Sternaler' another long bloomer with 2 1/2” daisy shaped bloom with dark centers and serrated edges.
Daylilies and I am not talking about the roadside wild ones. The hybrids grow in controllable clumps and often re-bloom Check out these for starters; 'Going Banana's', 'Huckleberry Candy' and the crème of the crop as well as best bloomer of all in a watermelon pink 'Endless Heart'. You can create a rainbow of colours and have bloom from June to later October .
Cone flowers are always an awesome choice. Some highly desirable new choices include; Raspberry Truffle and Solar Flare. These are not only attractive in the garden, they make great bouquets of blooms to bring indoors.

The following take full sun or part shade so even more versatile.

Columbine -Some of the more resent introductions are way more easy care. Check out 'Dorothy Rose' it has a double bonnet of pink. Very unique.
Geranium yes, but hardy geranium also known as Crainsbill. Try 'Rozanne' blooms from later in June right through to October. Purple blooms and foliage that will meander around and between your other plants.
Can not leave out Salvia's. Check out the brand new 'Sweet 16' , 'Plumosa' and old time favorite with purple stems 'Caradonna'. These are known for long blooming specially if you cut off spent blooms.
With just a bit more consideration in your choices this season and looking beyond the blooms you can be the envy of your neighborhood this season with way less effort.

To find out more “tips” from Dawn, you can contact her by visiting her website at http://www.gardensplus.ca/ , or calling her at 705-742-5918 or e-mail at info@gardensplus.ca.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gardens Plus ... The Scoop, The Spade & The Shovel ...













"Take Notes .... You will need them"
Dawn Tack, Gardens Plus
 at Peterborough Garden Show


This past Spring the Festival Nomad and myself had the privilege of enjoying the Peterborough Garden Show put on by The Peterborough Horticultural Society, the Peterborough and Area Master Gardeners, and the Northumberland Master Gardeners. We considered this show to be one of the best organized, well attended and informative events we have been to. Our friend Dawn Tack, owner of Gardens Plus located in Peterborough was there that day giving a demonstration on “planting, splitting and much more about Hosta’s”. I DO NOT have a “green thumb”. It turns out that EVERYTHING I did last year with my Hosta plants was completely incorrect! Dawn tried to comfort me in saying that they should come back this year, alas, they did not. For a fun INSIDE SCOOP, I thought I would share some of Dawn’s “tips” so you might avoid some of the “challenges” that I did while planting…..
Easy care Perennial top picks for 2012
Not all perennials are created equal. Before you consider adding anything to your gardens consider their requirements in lighting and overall needs. So what does easy care mean? What qualifies them to earn a place on our list?
·         they should thrive year after year
·         not needing to be divided very often
·         tolerant to drought conditions or surviving by a once a week watering or rain.
·         resistance to disease and insects
·         do not need to be supported by stakes
·         hardy and not needing winter protection
·         long blooming at least 6-8 weeks and maybe even re-bloom
Gardening should be a pleasure not a strain.

Part Shade (Northern or East exposure)
Perennial of the year for 2012 is Brunnera 'Jack Frost' chosen by PPA and one of our long time favorites. It emerges in the early spring even before the Hosta and blooms tiny blue clusters. The blooms resemble forget-me-nots. The silver veined heart shaped leaves glow and just keep growing as the season goes on.
Some new and exciting Hosta picks are 'Empress Wu' (the new giant) , 'Sparkler'(smaller long leaves with streaks), 'Little Miss Sunshine'(bright gold long leaves), 'Fireworks'(mini thick leaved green and white), Hosta of the year for 2012 'Liberty' (very wide edge of cream and green centered). 8,000 different varieties to choose from these days.
Most Coral Bells have the best of both worlds great colourful foliage and blooms. The colours available are endless from gold tones to deep burgundy's. Like ' Midnight Rose' (dark purple with splashes of pink dots), 'Electra' (bright yellow with red veins), 'Melting Fire' (curly burgundy with lighter undersides) and a close relative 'Solar Eclipse' (burgundy cut leaves with edges of lime green). Just one tip during spring is the time to push your coral bells back down into the soil if they heave up with the frost.

To find out more “tips” from Dawn, you can contact her by visiting her website at http://www.gardensplus.ca/ , or calling her at 705-742-5918 or e-mail at info@gardensplus.ca. Or Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Blog ….
(To Be Continued)



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Joan Balinson & John Terence, Canadian International Military Tattoo & Festival












BEING ORGANIZED … IS IT THE KEY TO SUCCESS …
In regards to Organization – Joan shares with us … “Behind my desk, on the wall, is a poster of a woman riding horseback and juggling several balls in the air.  She is my muse.  We multi task by setting up extensive files on all email correspondence; hard copy binders in alpha order tracking our volunteer job descriptions; give our Senior Managers the responsibility of planning throughout the year; keep hard copy binders for our marketing materials and media coverage (for easy reference) the following year.  Our bookkeeping is done in Quick Books and Excel programs.  Our office is located in the same coliseum where the show takes place and we have plenty of space for dressing rooms and satellite offices during show weekend.
BEHIND THE SCENES - PROBLEM SOLVING
I asked Joan... "As an Executive Director of the Canadian International Military Tattoo & Festival, I would imagine you are good at problem solving and managing people! As hectic as it is with all the chaos and details, how do you maintain your professionalize and composure."
Ms. Balinson replies … “Problem Solving Techniques - Many of our volunteers have been with us for years and served in different capacities.  If someone is unable to show up, we can find another person, give them a quick review of the job descriptions and get on with the show.  Weather is not an issue as we are inside.  Last minute performer cancellations are rare but we would just shorten the show by that one act.  There is no one act that carries the whole show.”  I appreciate Ms. Balinson’s further insight and knowledge when she discussed with me the issue of Risk Management. She states … “Risk Management - We carry heavy public liability insurance; work with a venue that has evacuation plans in place; have a heavy military presence in our performers and veterans who respond well to changes and emergencies.”   After speaking with Mr. Terence, the Producer, I learned also that if something were to go “challenging”, what better place to be then with a building full of Military service men and women.”

All the best for this years Canadian International Military Tattoo & Festival!