Friday, April 13, 2012

Board President Jed DeCory blogs about his time as a Native Earth "staffer"

For the past 18 months I have experienced Native Earth in a completely new way.  I joined the board of directors a number of years ago and watched as Native Earth found a strong voice and told stories about and by our community.  When we embarked on the feasibility study with Lord Cultural Resources to determine if we should create our own theatre space I stepped off the board so I could contribute to the study as a staff member.

But, as in all stories, the plot didn’t turn out to be as linear as we all suspected at the beginning.  A few months in there was the opportunity to apply to be a tenant in the new Regent Park Arts and Culture Centre (RPACC) Artscape and Daniels were building on Dundas Street.  What an opportunity for an organization that was looking into its ability to own and operate its own theatre space!  We decided to go for it.

When our application was accepted suddenly the role of working on a feasibility study increased to planning a theatre space and new office for Native Earth.

Meanwhile, we were approached by Seneca College to partner on a new media grant offered by Heritage CanadaSeneca had the technical expertise and Native Earth had the content.

The details of that project are likely best kept for another post.  Suffice to say that suddenly I was coordinating Native Earth’s involvement in the feasibility study, planning for the new theatre space and coordinating content for a multimedia site.

Suddenly, 18 months had passed and Jesse Wente’s term as board president came to an end.  I decided it was time for me to return to the board.

This period has been a wonderful learning experience and an opportunity that will make me a better board member for this incredible organization.

In my time as a “staffer” I have seen the dedication of the other staff members.  I have seen how Native Earth is more than a theatre company – it is a hub for our community.  Each week actors, playwrights and directors would be in and out of the office.  Some volunteering their time, some working for a couple weeks between gigs, some just coming to see friendly faces and get some support.

And there were the calls: 
- A small theatre company calling to get advice on how to deal with an issue
- A conference looking for a speaker or a panel members who could speak authoritatively on ethno cultural theatre
- A young person who wants advice on how to become part of the theatre community

All this in an environment where there always seemed to be music, dancing, laughter and a general celebration of life.

Now, as a board member, I have committed to ‘hanging out’ in the office at least once every couple weeks. I make it sound like I’m doing it because it will be easier for staff to know when I will be around to sign things.  But, truth be told, I have learned to cherish being part of this crazy, caring community. Those visits are really for me.

 Our new office space! Photograph by Jed DeCory.

Our theatre! Photograph by Jed DeCory.

No comments:

Post a Comment