|The New Year has fumbled into being and, before the rush of next year’s BIGGER BETTER BUMBLIER show announcements come, we want to talk 2013 one more time. Evolution is always our theme at Tottering Biped Theatre (TBT) - hence the company name, an anthropologist’s term to describe the uncertain state of the evolving human skeleton - and we are evolving in all kinds of ways. Here's a visual to get you thinking as you read on:
Let me start by saying how much didn’t happen or didn't work that you never need to know about. We are trying all kinds of things and lots don’t get off the ground. We 'Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better.’ all the time. Like Dog-Bird above: there's probably a reason why this never happened. Every failure was needed. It couldn’t happen any other way. But trust me, they happened too.
6 Highlights from the TBT year:
1. Charitable Status/our first Audit
This one goes out to all those admin geeks out there. Personally, I wasn’t one when I started but now the pleasure of a neatly categorized file or a balancing spreadsheet is its own kind of bliss. So while we got full charitable donation status at the end of 2012 it wasn’t until the audit was complete (we weren’t audited - as a charity you just get this done voluntarily to prove your books are all clean) and all the numbers lined up we were pretty darn happy. It’s a marathon in the admin world and we finished on our feet.
2. The Marketing love.
We surpassed 1,000 then 2,000 emails receiving our eblasts, we blew past 700 then 800 and then 900 Facebook Likes this year, and even got our Twitter up and running. It kind of made us gun shy about sending stuff out because now so many people see it all. I caught myself wondering if some of my content was ‘going too far’ on the radical side. Don’t worry, that little thought got chased right back into the corner where it belongs. (Back to the corner you go, Spider-owl:)
3. The Big Love from DEC Express.
OK this also goes under the category of admin geeking out maybe, but if you’re not doing this kind of work getting a new top sponsor for the year is a big high. Imagine someone just saying ‘what guys do is so cool I’m just going to throw this bunch of money at you’ and then they actually do. I’ve known these cats since a previous lifetime (hint, they can bust out a mean Swing dance on a moment’s notice) and they are into this work in every sense. Resources from people who get it, love it, and then put themselves out there to keep it happening? DEliCious.
4. The Burlington Arts & Culture Collective/Inspire Burlington.
This was the most unexpected development of the year by far. Goals can be limiting because they give you a fixed idea of the possible - this developed from an off-the-cuff idea which exploded. Here’s a quick review for those who didn’t catch the trip:
- TBT goes to a City Council meeting in the Spring where a lack of local support for a proposed Arts & Culture Action Plan comes up.
- TBT proposes a rally meeting in support of the plan. We call a few friends, have a little chat about it.
- 90 people who we generally didn’t know at all show up to talk about the Arts & Culture plan - yes, that many to talk about local politics. Conversation was explosive. Over the next couple months, our membership grows to 250 local artists/culture makers/supporters who want more out of local culture.
- A steering committee, with TBT at the helm, is formed to meet with every City Councillor, the Mayor, General Manager and more to advocate for the Collective’s input on the Cultural Action Plan
- In October, a beefed up Arts & Culture Action Plan - Burlington’s first - is unanimously passed at City Council who repeatedly cites the TBT and the Arts & Culture Collective for its work.
- I got to speak as a part of the Mayor’s Inspire Burlington series with Jeremy Freiburger on ‘Creative Cities’ in the Fall. Whenever I get to speak publicly I always prepare carefully and then, when I get up, just let it all burst out with little regard to what I was supposed to say. It tends to work out. This went very well.
Unlike Hawk-hen, which didn't go so well.
5. Matching Shows & Presenters.
Our first run with a major Canadian producing Theatre happened with gusto. TBT’s flagship show ‘First Dance’ was presented by Theatre Aquarius in February. Big thanks out to Luke Brown and Ron Ulrich for taking the risk on us - it paid off; we sold 120% of its seats (we kept adding more seats every show - we had to turn people away at the Matinee. Who does that??). ‘First Dance’ went on to perform at TBT’s first Festival, ‘IMPACT ’13’, showing our stuff on a National Stage. Great nights, great shows.
‘The Santaland Diaries’ moved to 4 different theatres in the GTA this year. This show was a little project that could - I’ve been eyeing these Roadhouse theatres for a few years and this was the project that I wanted to get through. I think it’s a brilliant piece and breaking into these networks with it has been amazing.
Working on new material still scares the crap out of me. At the beginning of the New Year, ‘First Dance’ worked. We messed with it anyway. Then we kept messing with it. We’re at it again in a month and yes, there a little bit of messing to go still. And I think it’s never been better.
‘The Inconsolable Blueness of Jeans’ got a workshop through the wonderful ‘Pat the Dog’. It was very difficult and needed. The Fall workshop tour to St. Catherine’s, Guelph, and Burlington that came out of it after further work was a radically different piece - with more change coming. The new title moving forward is ‘The Second Life’ and I am as excited as scared to open it up again and see what happens. Aren't you, Meercat-Camel?
There’s supposed to be this amazing split second when everything we’re working towards ‘happens’ and we arrive. I just can’t figure out when exactly that is. It happens all over, even in the moments when it sucks it’s all there. We’re loving it.
I have a million things to say about the upcoming year that will wait for another email.
Thanks for an amazing 2013 everyone. From all of us including, of course, Squirrel-Rabbit.
Artistic Director, Tottering Biped Theatre
2131 Prospect Street, Burlington L7R 1Z2