November 19, 2015

The E.D. Types: The Nature of Time

It seems unreal to me, that it has been almost year since I stood before our membership at our last AGM. In some ways, it feels like it has been forever, in others, like only a heartbeat has passed.

I said then, that the shoes I came into fill felt like pontoons. Now a year later, I am still very aware of the weight of responsibility to our community, but I am also know the pleasure of being in service to it. While I can now move my feet without fear of the shoes accidently falling off, I can’t imagine they will ever feel like my well-worn in kicks.

The one thing time does guarantee, is change. My arrival was the first of many changes that came to the organisation in the past year. First were the forced cuts of downsizing. It is the hardest decision a manager ever has to make, because no matter how you slice it, I feel like I am taking food off of someone’s table. In the non-profit world however, downsizing is always dictated by one factor, fiscal responsibility and long-term solvency.

The next curveball time threw us, was the departure of Cassandra Togneri.  While this planned departure was a loss, fact is, sometimes you just know when it is time. From the start, it was clear to me that Cassandra was a go-getter. As such, her winning the ticket to greener pastures and embracing a new adventure came as no surprise. Her time with us however, will remain marked, with the renaming of the QDF Togneri Trophy, awarded to the annual softball tournament winners.

Speaking of QDF events, much of the reduced team’s time was spent planning and carrying out events to connect us to you and to each other.  I discovered an interesting paradox in this work, in that while we get a chance to bring us all together, hosting these events often means that the team’s focus has to be on logistics, rather than relationships.

The blessing of our job descriptions is that we are also expected to spend time going to community events hosted by our members and partners. From conferences to openings, the QDF team was there, tweeting, blogging, and keeping you posted on Facebook.  This has given me the time to meet and begin conversations with our members and our partners. I would love to report that this process has been a quick one, but the truth is, that there are just not enough hours in a week to get where I want to go, as fast as I would like to.

Yet our members and partners have been fabulous in reaching out and supporting QDF through our transitional time. Our funders and their representative Claude Des Landes of CAM, Alexandre Martin of CALQ, Danielle Azoulay of PCH, Martin Dupont of MESS and  Jessica Radwan of E.Q. have been most supportive, offering advice and information when needed, and demonstrating understanding of the challenges faced by this ED in her freshman year. Community partners such as DAM, ELAN, MAI, YES and the QCGN included us in their work allowing us to broaden our reach. Theatre partners such as Black Theatre Workshop, Centaur Theatre, Concordia Theatre Department, Geordie Production,  Mainline Theatre, and the Segal Centre invited us in to use their space, making events accessible to all members. Moreover, their teams made us feel like family when we visited, making these times all the more pleasurable.

The upside of the change implicit to time is that of the discovery of the new. Our team was blessed with the influx of new energy. First was Kenny Streule, who joined us as a very part-time administrative assistant, but displayed such positivity and love for our community and organisation that we increased his hours and made him our Marketing Assistant. Next to join our current team, as Event Coordinator, is Tracy Lafave, whose natural curiosity and appreciation of theatre, has our Facebook and twitter active, and keeps our events on point. They, together with the astounding Stephanie McKenna, our Membership and Outreach Coordinator, have brought back the dream team feeling to our offices.

Now as the year turns over, we say goodbye to our President Anne Clark, Secretary Tamara Brown and Treasurer June Parks, whose time had come as dictated by our bylaws. In return we are blessed with renewal, with our new President in returning board member Amy Blackmore, James Hanna returning board member who takes on the challenge of Treasurer, and three new board members at large; Trevor Barret, Jimmy Blais, and Mike Payette. They too will now know the feeling of big shoes to fill. Luckily, they will have the support of the other returning Board members, Danielle Ariel Cadell-Malenfant, Amanda Kellock, Len Richman and Kathryn Westoll to help them over the hump.

QDF’s true strength is in its membership; the individuals that share their ideas, honest feedback, and invite us share their work. You have shown us tremendous support as we find our way and patience when we stumble. Now as we enact new initiatives aimed at promoting and educating, you are pulling back your curtains and allowing us the access necessary to make it work. Thank you!

Speaking of thanks, there are too many people to thank individually, but there are a few names I need to mention, not just for their support of me, but for their support of our membership. Paul Afaulo, Guy Rogers and Amy Macdonald are prime examples of the truly community focused. Adele Benoit, Chuck Childs, Jon Rondeau, Linda Laveques, Ted Little and Rahul Varma, who offer a much needed safe place to seek council. Sylvain Viger, Manoj Chandra and Roland Naccachi, professionals who factor good karma into their fees ;o), Peter Payan, Joseph St. Marie and all our extraordinary volunteers, including those who populate our nomination and communication committees and who help us reach out further, and Micheala Di Cesare and Natalie Tannous who have offered us a personalised window into their artistic world through our blog.

I wish I could offer you a clear picture of the year ahead, but time teaches us that clear pictures are only possible in retrospect. I can tell you there is a plan in place, the team is energised and moving forward and our Board is focused on QDF’s continued evolution.

It has been my supreme pleasure to be the Executive Director of your Quebec Drama Federation, and I am proud to say, despite the challenges of budget cuts and constraints, the future looks bright.

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