There’s no business like show business

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario‘s NextGen group (which does some pretty cool stuff) organized a job shadowing day. Pairing emerging and established professionals in the fields of heritage, arts management, architecture, and city planning, the initiative was meant to make meaningful professional connections

It was with absolute pleasure that I was selected for this and paired with Kevin Harris, Events and Sales Manager at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. Many years ago I worked at Theatre Museum Canada, where I spent my days in an office at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre organizing artifacts from costume design sketches to Christopher Plummer‘s sword.

(One day I got to attend a J. K. Rowling press conference and she signed my sister’s copy of The Philosopher’s Stone.)

So being back at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre was like coming back to an old friend. Kevin gave me an extended tour (pictures at the end of this post), and let me in on what happens on a typical day in Events and Sales there. As the Canadian Music Centre, where I currently work, recently launched its own performance space, getting to learn about how a theatre complex and heritage building like the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre handles rentals and programming was invaluable to me.

In addition to seeing firsthand how the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre promotes itself, handles rental bookings, and plays a role as an Ontario Heritage Trust property, it made me think about my career goals. I could see how my skills can be put to use in such an environment, and it really gave me a boost in confidence about my own suitability for a role in arts management that is still tied to built heritage. If you’re new to my blog, those are two things that are near and dear to my heart (and career).

As one of those horrible Gen-Yers (entitled, lazy, the worst) I am always interested in articles about how to address the generation’s over-educated/under-employed dilemma. The term “mentoring” comes up a lot. It makes sense. How better to learn about career options and in which direction to aim than by getting to know someone who’s already there and learn about their role? In the course of a handful of hours I learned from Kevin’s experience what it would have taken me months, or years, of trial-by-fire to work out myself. I came back to work brimming with ideas of how to address the Canadian Music Centre’s own rental space, and with renewed excitement for the future potential of my own career.

I would sincerely like to thank the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and its NextGen group for organizing this job shadowing project, and of course Kevin Harris and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre for taking me on for a day and showing me the ropes (and rigging, and travellers) for how arts, heritage, and business can work together.

And, in closing, If you’re not familiar with the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, here are some pictures to show you just how beautiful the space is.

The ceiling of the Elgin Theatre

The original light switches, set in solid black marble

The Winter Garden Theatre, which was sealed away for decades. These seats were bought from the theatre outside which John Dillinger was shot. One of these seats is the last one he ever sat in, but we don’t know which one it is!

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2 thoughts on “There’s no business like show business

  1. Hi Emma,
    What a beautiful writing about your experience at the Elgin and with the OHT. We are so glad you had such a beneficial day. You’ve helped us at ACO so much, so we’re glad we could do something for you in return.
    Susan Ratcliffe

    • Susan, what lovely words! I’m so proud to be involved with the ACO, and very encouraged by its exciting projects for emerging professionals. We need more initiatives like this to help us find our place in the industry.

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