Arts Court News

Anyone involved in the Ottawa theatre scene knows how important Arts Court is – its theatre is a key performance venue and it serves as a home for many members of the community.

In recent weeks it’s been clear that the facility’s health is not at all well. There have been some faint murmurings in the media about this, including a report about a possible merger between the Arts Court Foundation and the Council for the Arts in Ottawa. But very little has been communicated to the community that uses the facility.

The best source of information that I’m aware of at the moment is a Facebook group, where there’s been some discussion and where various documents related to Arts Court have been made available. Yesterday, the following was posted to that group; in the absence of any other information, it seems to be a curious development.

This job posting went live on the City of Ottawa INTERNAL staffing site today. This means that the job is ONLY open to City employees. If you can’t find it on the City site, that is why. Anyway, it has been confirmed. Hope that clears up any confusion.

Position: Coordinator, Arts Court
Competition Number: 2012-IN-EN-50293080-01
Competition posting date: 2012.06.27, closing date: 2012.07.12
City Operations Portfolio, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Srvc Dept., Cultural & Heritage Services Branch
Primary Location: Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue
1 Continuous FT Position – 35.00 hours/week,
Affiliation: CIPP
Salary: $38.963 to $47.411 per hour
Salary: $70,912.66 to $86,288.02 annually (2011 rates of pay)
Job Summary
The Coordinator, Arts Court is responsible for leading, developing and managing business objectives of a multi-disciplinary
arts facility, overseeing the operational and fiscal management of the theatre’s facilities; leading, developing and managing
partner operated theatre and arts facilities; assisting the Portfolio Manager, Community Arts and Creative Arts Programs, with
programming strategy, artistic direction and theatre operations, including the presentation of local, national and international
artists, community relations and support of local performing arts organizations.
Responsible for the execution, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all legal agreements and contracts associated
with Arts Court key partner service delivery agreements (i.e. leases) and contracted services associated with the operation of
commercial spaces. Acts as the City’s representative and liaison on many concerns and matters related to the operations of
Arts Court.
The Coordinator, Arts Court acts as the spokesperson for Arts Court and liaises and builds relationships with community
partners, government officials, and the private sector and industry associations; develops opportunities for artistic creation,
expression and exhibition and presentation locally; seeks out and proposes possible financial support opportunities from
other levels of government and private sources to fund programs, endowment and capital projects; supports the
implementation of the Cultural Services division’s strategies in relation to Arts Court and the operations of the work unit and
management of financial and human resources.
Education & Experience
Honours Degree in Arts (Theatre, Music, Fine Arts), Arts Administration or a related discipline.
Minimum of four years arts facility management and supervisory experience.
* Experience and formal training combined with demonstrated performance and ability may substitute for stipulated
academic requirements.
Language, Certificates & Licenses
– The successful candidate will be required to complete a Criminal Record
Check to the City of Ottawa’s satisfaction.
– Designated – specific level of language proficiency:
– French oral, reading
– English oral, reading, writing.
– Candidates who do not meet language requirements will be required to
participate in training.
Knowledge, Competencies & Skills
– General management and supervisory principles and practices
– Curatorial principles of arts programming
– Human resources management including labour relations and volunteer
management
– Financial and Risk Management including contractual agreements
– Performing arts disciplines and the presenting industry
– Facility and event management
– Box Office management
– Marketing principles and practices
– Fundraising principles and methods
– Development of policies and procedures
– Theatrical production including technology, procedures and practices
– Laws and legislation pertaining to licensing, privacy, freedom of
information, copyrights and royalties
– Health and safety legislation and practices, including those for the
live performance industry
– Relevant government department, community agencies and associations
including the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council, Ontario
Arts Council, Theatre Ontario, Canadian Arts Presenting Association,
Community Cultural Impresarios
– Program development and evaluation
– Working knowledge of working agreements for performers and technicians
including IATSE, ACTRA, Canadian Actors Equity Association and Musicians
Unions
– Knowledge of corporate, department and branch policies and procedures
– Must possess the training, experience and knowledge to organize the work
and its performance
– Must be familiar with all applicable health and safety legislation, have
knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the
work place, and have knowledge of appropriate actions to be taken in
order to ensure the health and safety of staff in accordance with
applicable legislation and City policies and procedures
– Demonstrated ability to lead and inspire others into action
– A facilitator with excellent presentation skills including public
speaking
– Excellent oral, written and listening skills
– Sound judgment and decision-making skills
– Ethical with strong negotiation and mediation skills
– Skilled advocate
– Ability to build and maintain successful relationships and partnerships
– Ability to identify realistic goals and deliver outcomes
– Delegates effectively and appropriately, setting challenging but
realistic goals and deadlines
– Ability to handle multiple large projects simultaneously and effectively
– Demonstrated success designing and developing programs
– Ability to establish appropriate policies, guidelines and procedures

Thoughts and comments welcome…

Looking for a playwright

My friends at Jer’s Vision, who have been staging readings of my play Ex Cathedra for high school students, are looking for a playwright to work on an upcoming project. They’re hosting a four day forum, “Dare to Stand Out,” for youth aged 14-17 in December 2012 covering topics such as hepatitis C, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, and how discrimination can lead to the transmission of these conditions.

They’d like to include some dramatic readings as part of their programming – and in particular want pieces that can be read by the youth who are participating in the forum. So they’re looking for a playwright who would like to help. If you’re interested, send a proposal (no more than one page) describing your experience and your interest in the project to [email protected] by July 15, 2012. If you have any questions, please contact Loresa at the email listed above or at 613-400-1875.

An honorarium will be provided.

The Show Must Go On

Last night was my first opportunity to see a performance of Ex Cathedra at the Ottawa Fringe. While I’d had the chance to chat from time to time with the folks putting it on and did sit in on their tech rehearsal, this was going to be my first chance to see how they interpreted the play.

Alas, fate does sometimes intervene, and one of the two actors is unable to perform due to illness. I imagine no one is more troubled by this than she is – after all that work and time, to be stuck in a sickbed is surely the last place she wants to be, and I do hope she’s better soon.

But what do you do when half of your cast can’t perform? This is Fringe, after all, and no one has the resources for understudies. And yet, as the saying goes, the show must go on!

To their credit, Troupe de la Lune has found someone to step in as a kind of understudy, and although she’s had minimal time to prepare the company was able to offer a perfectly fine “dramatic reading” of the script – and honestly, it was easy to forget after about twenty seconds that anyone was reading from a script.

Were there certain subtle nuances missing? Of course – these come out of the rehearsal process and the luxury of time to digest the script and consider the meaning of the lines. But in my own rather unscientific sample of the audience who were present last night, it was clear that people got the point of the play and were perfectly forgiving of an unfortunate situation; it would take quite the curmudgeon to feel otherwise!

So kudos to the company for figuring out how to keep going – after all, the show must go on!

Did you see one of the dramatic readings? What did you think?

Going into Tech

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is about to open and I’m excited that one of the productions being presented is my play Ex Cathedra, part of The Lavender Railroad. The company that’s putting on the show, Troupe de la Lune, approached me about the play when Jer’s Vision put on a staged reading of the play for one of their workshops some months ago.

I haven’t been directly involved with this production, though I’ve met with the people putting it on to answer questions they had about the script, so when I sit down in the Fringe audience a few days from now their work will be as fresh to me as it is to anyone else in the house. But I did drop by their tech rehearsal yesterday just to say hello, and it was great fun to get a sense of what their show will look and sound like, even though I didn’t see (and didn’t want to see) anything from the play itself. It was enough to get a sense of what they wanted to do with their lighting and sound, as well as how they planned to use the space they have.

And speaking of that space … they will be performing in the Léonard-Beaulne studio, which is the same space that the Evolution Theatre production of Lavender Railroad was done in.

For a quick video preview of the production, check out Ottawa Tonite.

The play runs for half a dozen performances during the festival – schedule details are here:

http://www.ottawafringe.com/shows/ex-cathedra

Really Running Late

A friend pointed out to me that I had written about the rehearsals of my play Late but that I had unaccountably neglected to say anything about the production itself during the run of the Extremely Short Play Festival of which it was a part.

Well, the festival has come and gone, but … better late than never, right?

The main reason I didn’t write about it was that I didn’t actually get to go as I was in Germany at the time at the Theatertreffen Festival in Berlin. Missing the short festival was a disappointment, not only because I didn’t get to see the performances of Kristina Watt and Kate Hurman in my piece but because I missed all the other fine plays as well. I’m told that the event was quite the success, and that John Koensgen, who thought up the idea, has plans to make the festival an annual event – which I think is a wonderful idea!

Careful readers who did see the show will note that there were two significant changes introduced to the play between its initial conception and its presentation at the festival.

The first was a function of casting. As written, the play is about a man and a woman meeting for lunch as they energetically avoid talking about their shared past. To hammer the point home, the characters are identified in the script only as HE and SHE. But John called me up one day to say that he had some casting issues as he distributed his four actors across the dozen or so plays he was presenting. Would it be possible, he asked, to give the parts to the two women in his cast, namely Kate and Kristina. As I revisited the script I realized that except for the HE and SHE there was really nothing whatsoever in the text that required either character to be a particular gender.

In fact, we realized quickly, having both characters be women could well add a nice extra “oomph” to the story as it became clear to the audience that these weren’t just two old friends meeting for lunch; these were ex-lovers, and their former relationship was clearly an unhappy one. Once rehearsals started, it was clear that both Kate and Kristina saw the dramatic possibilities in this and they ran with it brilliantly. Since the play is really all about the subtext, I think they both had a lot of fun with finding ways to say “The salad looks good” while conveying “Why were you so awful to me when we were together?”

The second change was a smaller and subtler one. The title of the play that I came up with was “Running Late,” borrowing from Kristina’s character’s apology that opens the play when she arrives late for the lunch date. At one point in rehearsals, we decided to call the play “Late,” which managed to be both a simpler title and a more profound one, with its rather unhappy suggestion that it really may be too late to salvage this particular relationship. (And so with the title change I’ve retroactively tidied up my references to the play here and elsewhere.)

These two changes illustrate something I love about the theatre: it is truly a collaborative art, and I take delight in seeing what the other artists involved come up with – for whatever reason – in suggesting changes to what I’ve originally put on the page. In this instance, I think the suggestions enhanced the production and my only regret is in not having seen a performance.

Two nice things about ten-minute plays is that they are relatively easy to produce and there are plenty of short-play festivals all over the world that need material. So if perchance Late gets produced elsewhere – and I think the play will indeed retain the new title – I’ll be curious to see whether future directors will care to follow John’s lead in casting. I’m of two minds on the question, in part because I didn’t actually see John’s production: casting two women certainly works. so I’d like to see that version of the play, but I’m still curious to see what the story would be like if it were presented as originally conceived. And to see a performance of the play too, of course.