Producers’ Learning Network

Minimal style Brain Illustration with Business Concept

A free professional development initiative, generously supported by the Toronto Arts Council, and facilitated by producer and manager, Meredith Potter.

What is it?
A collaborative learning network of individuals who meet weekly for two-hour long seminars that focus on:

  • the processes involved in producing contemporary performing artworks, including marketing, budgeting, contract negotiations, rights, fundraising, and so on; and
  • managing small performing arts enterprises that do not own or operate a venue.

When and Where is it?
Our third rotation will run from September 28th to November 14th, the full schedule will be released by the end of August, 2016. The days of the week and timings of the sessions rotate, giving everyone a chance to attend, and our venue changes between Youngplace Flex Studios, CSI Annex, and CSI Regent Park.

Who is it for? 
The Producers’ Learning Network is designed for people who want to work closely with independent artists and small performing arts companies as their producer/manager to help them realise their work for audiences, onstage or elsewhere. You may have graduated from a post-secondary arts management course and are looking to get connected with artists and hone your skills; you may currently work as a producer/manager, though you never actually planned to, and would like to engage in peer-to-peer professional development; or maybe you’re looking to secure contract or freelance work as a producer and want to increase your knowledge base and network.

Whatever the case, if you’re into producing and the idea of getting better at it, we invite you to join our network – get a bigger producer-brain, meet some smart people, hook into some great art, and link up with some incredible artists.

What’s the format? 
We’ll move between:

  • reviewing theory when appropriate;
  • reading recent articles and discussing how we can apply new thinking to our own enterprises;<
  • inviting expert guest speakers to share their experience and wisdom;
  • looking at case studies to learn about some effective approaches to producing work in contexts similar to our own;
  • attending shows and hearing from the producers of those shows about the processes of getting the work on its feet;
  • opening the floor to general Q&A sessions when people are looking for help/experience in specific situations; and
  • hobnobbing with artists on the lookout for a producer for their next project.

What’s in store?

As an example, during our first rotation in fall 2015 we looked at grant preparation, and marketing campaign planning (led by Meredith); Mitchell Marcus from Acting Up Stage Company presented a fantastic session called Financing your production which focused on earned and private revenues; Sarah Baumann from Soundstreams Canada led a great session on Marketing contemporary work in Toronto; Ravi Jain and Owais Lightwala from WhyNot Theatre walked us through their Riser Project; and we went to see The Supine Cobbler and Butcher, and heard from the artists and producers behind those shows about their journey from conception to the stage.

In the second rotation in spring 2016, we were joined by arts consultant extraordinaire Anne Dunning from Arts Action Research Boston/New York City for two sessions – The Artist/Producer Relationship and Producing Strategically. We also offered one-on-one coaching sessions with Anne for 16 lucky members of the PLN. Elisabeth Burks from Guild MKTG gave two highly practical sessions on using online analytics tools to improve your marketing goals; and Mitchell Marcus returned with a highly practical session on Project Management. We went to see Obsidian’s Up the Garden Path and met ex-Broadway producer, now Obsidian GM, Tania Senewiratne; and we saw Funny/Funeral at The Citadel, choreographer and performed by Sabina Perry with Molly Johnson.

Click here to view the PLN Fall 2016 schedule

What does it cost to participate? 
Nothing, it’s FREE. You can thank the good folk at the Toronto Arts Council.

How do I sign-up? 
Click here to register and vote on when the sessions would best fit your schedule. If you are on Facebook, please join our group for up-to-date information and shared resources!

Our team is:

Meredith Potter (Facilitator) graduated from the Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a BA (Arts Management) and has since worked with performing arts companies in Australia and Canada including the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust, Patch Theatre Company, the Dance Umbrella of Ontario, CORPUS and Dusk Dances. She is currently director of Meredith Potter Arts Management and provides management and producing services to Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Volcano, and Nova Dance. Meredith was the recipient of the 2014 Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts Administration, as well as a 2013 Harold Award.

Jordan Laffrenier (Co-ordinator) is a bi-racial Canadian director, playwright, community builder and photographer. He is the artistic director of Then They Fight Theatre. Through his work Jordan creates theatre that is socially and stylistically relevant. He is an advocate for theatre that supports the local community on and off stage. Recent creative credits include: Amelie: The Musical (Lyric Theatre), Sousatzka (Tiberius Entertainment), Carbon (Little Black Afro), The 101010 Project (Then They Fight Theatre).


The Producers’ Learning Network is generously funded by the Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Process