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Earlier this month, Glasgow Square Theatre received the prestigious Community Presenter of the Year award at Nova Scotia Music Week in Yarmouth.  This is awarded by the membership of Music Nova Scotia for a community organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to presenting musical performances in Nova Scotia.

So what is presenting you say, and why is it important to the community?

A fantastic report, compiled and written by Inga Petri of Strategic Moves, delves into the Value of Presenting: A Study of Performing Arts Presentation in Canada (PDF).

This comprehensive and insightful study cites numerous benefits to individuals who attend performances, such as intellectual, emotional and spiritual stimulation, exposure to different cultures, social opportunities and health and well-being. Benefits to the community are critical when it comes to community development – the report pinpoints energy and vitality, quality of life, a more creative community understanding between cultures, pride and belonging.

Ultimately, the report concludes there is a strong correlation between performing arts and health, well-being and civic engagement.

For those unfamiliar with the Presenter’s role, here it is in a nutshell, as defined in this study:

Based on their own artistic vision, presenters plan a season or a festival by selecting performances produced by professional artists, groups or companies. They have the requisite knowledge of artistic products and the skill to research productions in order to assess their quality and their feasibility technically and in terms of marketability. They negotiate contracts and pay artists’ fees to producers. They operate or rent a specialized facility, a suitable venue or outdoor site. Presenters often organize audience development and/or outreach activities and they market the events. Moreover, they are responsible for managerial functions, like financial and human resource management, maintaining relationships with funders, donors and sponsors and working closely with their organizations’ governing bodies.
In short, performing arts presenters share a common passion for supporting emerging and established artists; developing audiences by connecting their artistic vision and programming choices with their local market; and building community.

Perhaps most importantly, this report recognizes the role of volunteers in presenting.  In fact, it finds that over half of the survey participant presenters, there are more volunteers than there are staff.  The average ratio of volunteers 7 for each staff member.  This is even higher in the festival presenting world.

Something we always knew – Volunteers are the lifeblood of presenting.

So there you have it, a bit more insight into the nuts and bolts of presenting, the value of what we and every other presenter in this province and country, are doing, and how our community benefits. Consider this the next time you browse through a theatre program, or when you and your friends or family are trying to decide how to spend an evening.  Have a look, you may get hooked.

- Carlton Monroe