Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer

Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will continue with THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer.

  “In 1999, The Westben Arts Festival Theatre was formed as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating, enriching and integrating professionals and amateurs in musical projects and educational activities. Run by a Board of Directors, Westben received its charitable status in 2000.” My question to Donna … “As Westben has it's 'Charitable Status", does it have fundraising events, and if so, can you describe what you choose to do and why. Perhaps discuss the pitfalls and successes here.” … Ms. Bennett’s reply here … “We have an annual fundraiser – the last concert in August (this year is August 5th called The Big Band Theory celebrating Gershwin with pianist and AD of Westben – Brian Finley and the Brian Barlow Big Band. We also do 2 small fundraisers through out the year and sell Fundscript cards.”

Many times I like to find the SCOOP about how festivals/events “keep things fresh” for the patrons and actors? I know many festivals/events offer visitors/participants alike things like new fresh healthy choice foods, shaded rest areas, cool water sources and such. Donna tells us … “This is always a challenge. We try to do something new – an upgrade on site every season – this year we have a new trailer of flush washrooms – thanks to Celebrate Ontario and Brian always keeps the programming fresh and interesting.” A comforting and welcomed new upgrade indeed!

“Co–founders, Brian Finley (Artistic Director) and Donna Bennett (Marketing Director), lead Westben’s wonderfully energetic full-time staff of five. The 12-member Board of Directors heads up a huge support team of volunteers, sponsors, donors and members. Westben also appreciates the support from all levels of government and several foundations.” I was able to ask Ms. Bennett what are her duties/roles prior to and during a production? She states … “This is a huge topic. We have a year round box office organizing sales, marketing, grants, memberships, sponsorships, production. The day of each concert there is a production ritual of getting the on site box office ready and grounds prepped and Barn prepared.” This led me to my next question … “What are some of the challenges that the “audience” does not see?” Behind the scenes as it were. Often, event/festival organizers reply is about lighting issues, timing, choreography, weather conditions and so on. Donna simply replies … “Funding”.
(To Be Continued)

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