Sara Palmieri’s phone has been ringing a little more than usual lately.
The sales and marketing manager for Brock’s Centre for the Arts has already taken five bookings from teachers with plans to bring their classes to the theatre in the next school year.
Typically, those calls don’t start coming in until much later in the summer. But Palmieri credits the increase to the efforts of the University, the City of St. Catharines and theatre group Carousel Players, who have spent the past two years working together to market the arts in the city and beyond.
The trio’s most recent endeavour, an arts showcase and trade show for educators, was held at Brock last month and it’s the reason more teachers than usual are working arts programming into their lesson plans now.
“It’s a one-stop shop for programs for youth in junior kindergarten to Grade 12,” Palmieri said about the trade show, which brought local arts groups together to market themselves. “We’re trying to find the ambassadors to go back to their schools and say ‘This is important to attend.’ Everything is so expensive now so if they’re going to go on a class trip, well, let’s make that a class trip to a local arts event.”
Culture in Niagara started in 2010 when the University, City and Carousel Players teamed up on three key federally and provincially funded projects to build the arts sector over the next two years.
They include the City’s creation of a website of cultural events and organizations in the region, developing arts groups’ marketing expertise, which the Centre for the Arts is leading, and the production of the trade show and DVD led by Carousel Players to profile arts organizations that do school programs.
The DVD, shot by Brock University success story Fourgrounds Media, was handed out to teachers at the trade show to share with their colleagues. Although the event was intended to be a one-time-only affair, Debbie Slade said it was so successful, the plan is to do it again next year, even though the government cash for Culture in Niagara came in limited supply.
“So much time and energy went into it, it would be a shame to dump it because there’s no official funding,” said Slade, Centre for the Arts director. “(Making people aware of arts programming) is an ongoing learning process and we can’t just rest on our laurels.”
It shouldn’t be much of a problem pulling off a repeat performance of the trade show, Palmieri noted. Staff time and use of the venue at Brock are all that’s really needed.
Meanwhile, Palmieri, Slade, the City and Carousel Players will host a summit at Brock on Oct. 5 when the Culture in Niagara website will be launched and the next steps to continue growing the arts in the community are discussed.