Everything Is Possible: SummerWorks Interview

When SummerWorks Artistic Producer, Michael Rubenfeld, was asked to describe the festival in three words, this is the answer we received. And it rings true. Running from August 7-17 at The Theatre Centre, the 2014 SummerWorks Festival brings together professional artists from diverse communities. The festival encourages risk, questions, and creative exploration while insisting on accessibility, integrity and professionalism. If you’ve never attended a SummerWorks Festival, this is the year to go.


1. What are you most excited about for SummerWorks this year? Are there any new developments in programming?

I’m really excited about Thus Spoke… by Frederick Gravel and Etienne Lepage. It is a remarkable show and getting to premiere it in English is a really big deal for us.  Gravel is one of Canada’s premiere dance artists, and having him at SummerWorks is a major event for us and for the entire city.   Young Drones: A Graphic Novel Rock Opera is something that we helped initiate as part of last year’s Music Series.  Bringing it back as a production-in-residence is a new model of working with a production and helping it develop over multiple Festivals.  This is a first for SummerWorks.   Our new hub is the brand new Theatre Centre.  Its an incredible new home for performance in the west end, and we plan on being a partner there for many years to come.

2. Apart from being a juried festival, what else makes SummerWorks unique from other summer art festivals in the city?

We are both juried and curated — and what makes us unique is really HOW we curate.  We are interested in work that pushes the boundaries of understanding.  Work that is asking complex questions of the systems we inhabit.  Work that seeks out originality and autership.  Work that paves pathways towards new aesthetics and unique performance ecologies.  Our Festival is interested in the ignition and development of rigorous, challenging and invigorating artistic conversations.  It is a space for incubation and the expression of new ideas and formal exploration.  We are interested in the question of performance as a whole, and we encapsulate this through conversations across all performance genres.  We remain independent in nature mainly due to our levels of support but we believe that, despite this, SummerWorks is one of the important the homes for performance development agencies in the country — and this is affirmed by the remarkable level of work that is taken from the Festival and moved to other stages around the world.

3. Tell us a little bit about dance at SummerWorks this year. How has the presence of dance performances in the festival changed over the years? (Or has it not?)

SummerWorks is becoming more and more deliberate in how we welcome dance into the Festival.  I think that some of the most interesting work we see is happening in dance, and I think its important to create more space for contemporary dance work. The presence of certain dance work at the Festival has been an influence on how artists and audience filter performance. It also confuses some people, which we quite like, because it ask audiences to work to find new ways to experience performance.  As a Festival concerned with contradicting systems, including dance helps push forward this conversation, particularly when its next some more understood theatrical systems in the Festival that use traditional storytelling methods.

4. What can people expect from this year’s festival?

The Festival is large and incredibly diverse.  People get out of the Festival what they decide to put in.  Every year I see almost all of the work across all spectrums and its literally mind-altering.  It’s incredibly important to me that I see work that I might not understand or that I might not be naturally drawn to.  I find it makes me a more interesting artist, thinker + human.

5. Describe SummerWorks in 3 words.

Everything is possible.

6. SummerWorks has been described as a festival that supports artistic risk and innovation, why do you feel this is important?

Because art that is interested in risk and innovation also encourages its audiences to take risks and be innovative in their own lives — and that is what we’re interested in being a part of.

7. If someone has never been to a SummerWorks festival before, what is one thing they should know going in?

That a lot of the work is early in its development and is operating with very small budgets — but behind each piece are groups of incredibly serious artists who are trying to change the world — and that’s why the Festival is so exciting to be a part of.


Want to win two FREE tickets to SummerWorks? Enter DUO’s ticket giveaway contest HERE!

By |August 7th, 2014|DUO's News|0 Comments|

DUO Coffee Talk: How I am making it happen, and how you can to!

“How I’m making it happen, and how you can too!” A talk about the importance of the first year out of school and how to propel your career into the fast lane.

By: Thomas Swayne

Hosted by: Dance Umbrella of Ontario

TALK DESCRIPTION: The first year out of school (whether it be theatre, dance, or production) can seem daunting and challenging. You’re under pressure from your parents, friends, and faculty to “make it big” quickly while pursuing an industry largely without a “how to” handbook. While there is no one path to achieving your career goals, there are some steps you can take to make a quick impression out of school.

BIO Thomas Swayne is a theatre artist and recent B.F.A Acting graduate from Ryerson Theatre School. He is currently a Production Coordinator for Disney Theatrical Group working on the world premiere of Shakespeare in Love in London’s West End and a recent receipt of a Metcalf Performing Arts Internship with Acting Up Stage Company. Other notable Toronto credits include Disney’s Aladdin (Creative Production Assistant, Disney Theatrical Group), The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw (Producer, SummerWorks), The Barber of Seville (Assistant Director, Soulpepper), and Queen for a Day: the Musical starring Alan Thicke (Assistant Producer).

Did we mention it’s free? All you have to do is sign up here:https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/duo-coffee-talk-how-im-making-it-happen-and-how-you-can-too-tickets-12243768441.

We’ll supply the coffee, you supply the chat!

Job Notice: Manager, Producing & Administration (DUO)

Join a team of dedicated professionals working with the Ontario’s Dance Sector. Dance Umbrella of Ontario (DUO) is a not-for-profit provider of management services to Ontario’s dance enterprises. For 25+ years our professional administrators have been providing expertise, support and services including accounting, artistic/business planning, career consultation, grant preparation and filing, board administration and facilitation, budget development and management, fund-raising planning, and production management at affordable rates.

Elements of the job:

The Manager, Producing & Administration will work with a roster of between three and six clients at any given time where the relationship and project(s) with each client will be unique. The clients range from established companies to emerging individual dance artists. The services that an Arts Manager provides to the clients include:

• Developing an artistic and organization strategic plan with the client; defining steps to implement the plan; monitoring the progress
• Developing and executing project plans for productions, and client programming
• Developing a strategy for funding from government and foundation sources; reviewing, editing and managing grant applications;
• Developing and managing overall budgets and specific project budgets; cash flow management; financial and other reporting to the client and the client’s Board of Directors; maintaining reporting systems for handling income and paying expenses
• Maintaining relations with arts funders and dance presenters
• Seeking out performing opportunities
• Other duties as assigned

The Manager, Producing & Administration must be able to develop relationships with peers in other arts organizations, and work with them to define and develop long-range projects.

Primary Client:

Dusk Dances will be one of the primary clients of the Manager, Producing & Administration, which will constitute approximately 60% of the incumbent’s client workload. Founded in 1993 by dancer-choreographer Sylvie Bouchard, Dusk Dances is a curated outdoor dance festival of high quality choreographies in public parks at dusk. An artistic event with a vibrant social character, Dusk Dances presents a wide array of choreographic works, from contemporary to traditional, and from a variety of ethno-cultural traditions.

Working closely with the Festival Director, Sylvie Bouchard, in addition to the elements listed above, the Manager, Producing & Administration will:

• Manage writing and submitting grant and foundation applications and final reports
• Manage the contracting process for all festival artists and vendors
• Manage the annual organizational budget; track expenses and revenues to the projections and provide reports to assist in decision making
• Liaise with Marketing and Communications staff to support the execution of the 2014 Festival Communications Campaign; work with Festival Director to plan and execute a distribution plan for marketing collateral.
• Provide support to prospect and secure in-kind donations
• Attend board meetings and provide support to the Board Secretary.
• Liaise with Licensee and touring partners regarding scheduling, logistics and marketing
• Working with the Festival Director, liaise with the Production Team regarding scheduling, logistics and equipment


• One to three years experience in the performing arts sector
• A passion for the success of dance in Ontario and an entrepreneurial spirit
• Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to deal with a wide range of people in a wide range of situations
• An ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously, set and balance priorities, manage time wisely, and meet deadlines
• Exceptional verbal and written communication skills; strong editing skills
• Excellent attention to detail and deadline orientation
• An understanding of the principles of government and foundation funding to the arts
• An understanding of accounting principles, budgeting, and cash flow management
• An understanding of the principles of not-for-profit and charitable organizations
• Computer literacy, particularly in Word and Excel in a Mac environment
• Availability for evening and weekend work
• Competency in French is considered an asset

Applicants should email their resume and cover letter to employment@danceumbrella.net with “Manager, Producing & Administration” in the subject line by 5:00 pm on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Position: Full time (37.5hours/week) one-year contract, with potential for multi-year renewal.
Salary: TBD, commensurate with experience + benefits
Expected Start Date: Monday, August 11, 2014

We appreciate the interest of all applicants, however, we will only respond to those applicants being invited to interview.

DUO is an equal opportunity employer, committed to hiring people who represent the communities in which we work; we welcome and encourage applications from all qualified candidates.

DUO Services




DUO’s News: Amy Benson

DUO would like to say a big warm welcome to Amy Benson.  We are thrilled to welcomeAmy Benson to the DUO team! Amy joins DUO as Production and Administration Manager.



Amy joined the DUO team in early 2014 having made the move to the bright lights of Toronto from the ocean breezes of Vancouver.  Since earning a BFA from the University of Victoria, Amy has worked in arts administration and management with dance, theatre and music companies large and small. Amy spent time honing her skills at the Vancouver East Cultural Center, Centennial Theatre and the Firehall Arts Center, where she developed the multi-tasking skills, thick skin and sense of humour needed to be a great arts administrator.  Amy has ben busy immersing herself in the life and culture of Toronto, but is still getting used to the winter.

By |March 11th, 2014|DUO's News|0 Comments|

Publicity & Marketing

In a Time Crunch?



When it comes to productions and performances, the earlier you begin to build your publicity and marketing strategy, the better. While typically, we recommend initiating a publicity and marketing plan at least three months in advance, we know that sometimes plans change, and you may find yourself a month or two away from opening night, without a concrete strategy. This is where DUO can help.

We offer a comprehensive and affordable selection of publicity and marketing services (incl. social media management) tailored to meet your project needs and timeline. For more information, or to set up a free consultation, please e-mail nicole@danceumbrella.net.