We’re about the same age, the National Arts Centre (NAC) and I. It would seem that, like most of us, the NAC’s biggest fans are its parents — the generation that created and brought this centre to life.
But there’s no doubt about it, its biggest fans are getting older. The people who are their most loyal subscribers will soon be retiring from their seats in the audience. Fresh bottoms will be needed to fill these seats.
Bottoms like mine.
That’s why I’m so pleased to see how hard the NAC is working to keep itself relevant to my generation. It’s not easy to keep an arts centre of this size and breadth alive, especially during any kind of economic downturn, when people stop spending and start staying home.
So here’s a clever little initiative that the NAC has started: blogger nights.
The centre now has an e-markting officer (Jennifer Covert), a Twitter handle (@CanadasNAC) and a blog. And sure, lots of organizations have these things, but the NAC is really doing them quite well.
Let’s use last night as an example:
At last night’s blogger night, nine bloggers (http://danigirl.ca/blog, www.hotpinkgeek.com, www.ottawatonight.com, www.quietfish.com/notebook, www.mintyfresh.com, www.girlaboutotown.com, www.apt613.ca, http://relishing.ca) gathered just outside the Le Cafe for a little cocktail hour with wine and a beautiful selection of appetizers. This is not just about giving us free food and letting us chat amongst ourselves. It’s smart engagement.
Consider that the Le Cafe now has a new chef — Micheal Blackie, who many of us Ottawa locals will know from Brookstreet’s Perspectives restaurant in Kanata. My hubby (who was invited to join me) is a bit of a foodie, so he was quite taken-in with Blackie’s offerings. We wanted to hear more, so we asked Sarah — a woman who introduced herself to us and explained that she works to help market the orchestra — what she knew about him. She told us that one of the interesting things that Blackie has started is a Brunch. Huh. Who knew? And how great is that! A brunch along the canal would be a wonderful way to spend a morning. Hubby immediately suggested that we do this with my family on Sunday. (See – it works, doesn’t it? And now I’m blogging about it too – double points for the NAC.)
A number of other thoughtful details went into this blogger night too. Peter Herrndorf, NAC President and CEO, came to mingle with us bloggy folks. And in the lobby, a special table was set up with wifi and laptops so that we could tweet or blog on site. Beside this table was a poster welcoming the bloggers with a list of our names and urls. How special do we feel, now? Yes, smart engagement yet again.
Then we got to see the show Mysterioso: Music and Magic. I never in a million years would have bought tickets and gone out to see this show. For one, it really wasn’t my style of show (as I suggested here). And two, people my age often don’t go out much — we’re so used to being home and caring for our babies.
And that’s precisely the point: I did go out to the show. And even though I still wouldn’t call it my style of show, I had a fabulous time. The performers, acutely aware of magic shows’ slightly cheesy reputation, played it up tongue-cheek all night. I howled with laughter at the Les Anrold and Dazzle performance! Dazzle is the magician’s assistant, and she was so funny that she stole the entire night for me. Here’s a clip if you feel like having a little Friday fun break:
Hubby and I walked out of the NAC feeling like a million bucks last night. It gave us an opportunity to remember how much we enjoyed going out before the kids came along. And it proved to us that the organizing required to get ourselves a night out was totally worth it in the end and that now that our children were no longer babies, there’s no reason not to treat ourselves to “date nights.”
We’re exactly the market that the NAC wants (needs?), come to think of it. We’re old enough to have the income for a season subscription and we’re young enough that we can fill seats for years to come. And you know, we might just do that.
I’d love to keep our national arts centre alive and well — thriving! What suggestions do you have for the NAC to keep relevant?
Disclosure: I received wine, appetizers and two tickets to the show — with no strings attached. Thanks Jennifer and thanks NAC — much appreciated!