Next Round of Staging Change Announced

This message from Metcalf President and CEO Sandy Houston was sent on July 29, 2020 to members of our community. 

The Metcalf Foundation’s Performing Arts program is pleased to announce the second round of Staging Change. Offered in partnership with EmcArts, a social enterprise for learning and innovation in the arts based in North Carolina, the next edition of Staging Change will take place online in the fall of 2020 into early 2021.

Staging Change is the Performing Arts program’s flagship multi-year strategic initiative that supports innovation within Toronto’s music, theatre, dance, and opera communities through the practice of adaptive change.

What’s adaptive change and why is it important now?

In 2018, EmcArts designed and led the first edition of Staging Change. A tiered-program, the original cohort consisted of 14 organizations. Today, four organizations of various sizes from the worlds of theatre, dance, and opera – The National Ballet of Canada, The Theatre Centre, Tapestry Opera, and Theatre Direct – are mid-way through the program and are currently prototyping innovative responses to some of their most intractable challenges.

We are thrilled to be working with EmcArts again at a time when the disorder and uncertainty arts organizations are facing in the throes of a pandemic appear even more insurmountable. We firmly believe that now is the time to invest in a process that will help arts organizations re-imagine themselves, build new adaptive muscles, and contribute to the field’s renewed future in order to prevent a return to the status quo that many now feel is no longer viable let alone desirable.

Richard Evans, EmcArts co-founder and President Emeritus, says this about the times we now face:

“In the past, we have taken André Gide’s axiom that “one cannot discover new lands without first consenting to leave the shore” as a rallying cry for performing arts leaders and organizations that are in a place to choose to adapt (before circumstances compel it). Now, the entire sector is unmoored and trying to navigate complex uncharted waters. No longer is it only pioneers and early adopters that Staging Change might engage, but the wider spectrum of performing arts organizations that are struggling to make sense of current and emerging conditions – who have had the need for innovation and radical adaptation thrust upon them, like it or not. The thought patterns, sense-making, new skills, and non-traditional team work needed to begin organization-wide adaptive work are now critical to the future of the sector.”

Richard Evans, Co-Founder and President Emeritus, EmcArts

Staging Change Round 2 

The 2020 Staging Change Round 2 (SC2) initiative will roll out in several phases. Today, we are announcing the first two.

We begin with a 90 minute introductory webinar and information session via Zoom on September 16, 2020 from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. This will introduce the participants to adaptive change, the foundational set of principles that underpin the Staging Change initiative. This session will also introduce Staging Change as a whole, with an emphasis on Stage 1, and launch the application process.

The September 16 webinar is open to all professional performing arts organizations in the City of Toronto who work in dance, theatre, opera, and music as well as in the spaces between and among these disciplines. It will be held from from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Organizations may enroll as many participants as they like. There is no application process, no prep or required follow up. The event is free. Each individual simply registers through Eventbrite in order to receive the webinar sign-in information. Registration information can be found here.

The ten part online workshop series Stage 1: Building Adaptive Capacity will begin in November 2020 and continue through to February 2021. Toronto-based organizations interested in participating in Stage 1 must do so through a competitive application process. Up to ten organizations will be selected, each of which will be represented by teams of five, including artistic, administrative, and board leadership, and other staff members as appropriate. Applications are due October 5. The first online session will take place on November 10. For more information on how to apply, guidelines will be available on the website prior to September 16.

It is not required that applicants to Stage 1 attend the introductory webinar. However, in order for you to assess the suitability of this work for your organization at this time, we highly recommend it.

For more information, please contact Michael Trent at Metcalf ( or Jonathan Halsey at EmcArts (