Metcalf Photo Essay: Stage 1 of Staging Change concludes
2019

On November 29, 2018, we dropped in on the penultimate workshop of Staging Change, the Foundation’s latest strategic multi-year investment program in the Performing Arts. A tiered program delivered in four stages, Staging Change allows participants to uncover innovative solutions to challenges and opportunities that their organizations face. Fourteen Toronto-based performing arts organizations took part in the six workshops offered in Stage 1, which ended on December 11. Teams from each organization, comprised of representatives from the artistic, administrative, and board leadership, worked with lead EmcArts facilitators Richard Evans and Melissa Dibble to identify a complex challenge within their organization, i.e. one without a known solution.

In addition, Metcalf welcomed nine participants into the Staging Change Associate Facilitator Training Initiative (SCAFTI). This year-long train-the-trainer program develops the capacity of local consultants in EmcArts signature adaptive change practice. It focuses on enhancing the skills of two groups: consultants who have a practice based in the performing arts, especially those with experience in facilitating organizational change, and organizational leaders from all arts disciplines.

Staging Change is designed and delivered in partnership with EmcArts, a nonprofit enterprise that has worked with over 300 institutions and 2,500 leaders across the U.S. and Canada to find innovative new strategies to create public value and impact in the arts.

 

EmcArts President Richard Evans welcomes the group back for the fifth workshop in Stage 1. Using the lens of adaptive change, this workshop delves into the roles of power, authority, and leadership as it exists in a performing arts organization. The six three-hour workshops in Stage 1 build on each other.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Organizations in Stage 1 range in size from small collectives to large institutions, including the National Ballet of Canada, some of whose members can be seen above discussing their complex challenge.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

The workshop format includes lectures, exercises, and conversations across disciplines. Here The Theatre Centre’s Franco Boni engages Roberto Campanella from ProArteDanza.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Peer-to-peer support and input are fundamental components of the Staging Change program design. In this exercise, a group of peers from four different organizations, who all have diverse perspectives, provide feedback on a dilemma or question identified by Theatre Direct Board Chair Fanny Martin, who turns her back to the group and listens intently to the conversation.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

EmcArts Lead Process Facilitator Melissa Dibble believes that location and ambience are very important. “The first thing I suggest when planning a meeting focused on adaptive work is a change of venue, to an unexpected place where people aren’t used to having meetings take place.” Melissa and the Staging Change team toured a number of possible venues to hold Stage 1 before choosing the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Luminato Festival’s recently appointed Artistic Director Naomi Campbell and Communications Manager Christine Achampong review a potential strategy.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Robert Sauvey, Executive Director of the Dance Umbrella of Ontario, contributes to a discussion on the difference between technical and adaptive work. Whereas technical work is useful when the challenge an organization faces is clear and understood, the solution known, and the participants are experts with authority, an adaptive approach is required when the challenge is unclear or unknown, the solution requires learning, and the participants best suited to address the challenge are the people with the problem.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Melissa walks around the room, giving feedback and answering questions as needed, in order to ensure that participants stay focused and on track.

A midmorning coffee break allows participants Robert Foster, Vice-Chair of Business for the Arts and colleague Jessica Vellenga, Associate National Program Director, artsvest to share ideas in an informal setting.

Two members of the Luminato team, Christine Achampong and newly appointed Chair of the Board, Peter Herrndorf, reflect on the morning’s exercises.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Members of Pratibha Arts and Roseneath Theatre discuss what it means to bring together the right team to confront complex challenges (ones with no known or single solution).

Though new to EmcArts, Jonathan Halsey has jumped into the deep end and is seen here supporting participants analyze the various characteristics that go into making a strong team.

Associate Facilitator Mike Prosserman works with members of ProArteDanza, while Richard Evans and Melissa Dibble check in with each other to make sure that the tight schedule is being kept.

Metcalf Director of Performing Arts Michael Trent listens as Richard outlines the next exercise. As participants in the Staging Change Associate Facilitator Training Initiative, Michael and his peers both observe and actively work with the arts organizations.

Photo: Guntar Kravis

Participants in the Staging Change Associate Facilitator Training Initiative. Top row (l to r): Mike Prosserman, Pru Robey, Kristina Lemieux, Shannon Litzenberger, Metcalf’s Michael Trent, Jeanne LeSage, Allen MacInnis, and Alicia Payne. Bottom row (l to r): Metcalf’s Adriana Beemans, Sue Balint, EmcArts’ Melissa Dibble, and Karen Gilodo.

Photo: Molly Willats

And that’s a wrap on Stage 1 of Staging Change. Participants in Stage 2 will be announced in February 2019.

Photo: Guntar Kravis