Get excited: we’re starting to think about re-opening. In this brief update, I discuss a re-opening event, cleaning up the theatre to be presentable to the public, and vaccine requirements. We want our re-opening to be exciting and safe for both our volunteers and our audiences.
One thing I’ve started working on is putting together a committee to plan some sort of event to celebrate our “re-opening” out of COVID. At the last board meeting, we approved a season schedule that has a production (yet to be selected) having auditions near the end of November, so our event would likely happen sometime around there. My ideas around this so far have it as a primarily-virtual event streamed from the theatre with presentations from the Board regarding what we have in the works and what we think the year will look like. If you have any ideas for what you’d like to see, shoot me an email!
The Board has been working to prepare our space for the first shows in our space by a rental since the start of the pandemic! Between rebuilding our booth and being mostly unused for over a year, there was a lot to put back together and make presentable to audiences. Typically, the theatre goes through a big clean when each mainstage production does a strike, and we’ve definitely been missing that. Thanks to our volunteers who came out to lend a hand!
One hot ticket item that we haven’t yet resolved from the last meeting (as I mentioned in my last post) is the question of requiring vaccines for our volunteers. The board is going to be resolving this motion at our meeting on October 25th, and input from the membership would be welcome and helpful for us in making this decision. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com, or, if you prefer, submit your feedback anonymously here.
Our September board meeting was pretty average. We were happy to welcome a few guests to join our discussions; if you are interested in joining us for a future meeting, please reach out to our secretary, Monica! We meet on the 4th Monday of every month.
Our Webmaster, Chris, discussed introducing mandatory 2-factor authentication for KWLT email accounts who are superadmins of the Google Workspace, and tightening password requirements for all KWLT accounts. This will increase our security.
The Board ratified a change made to the COVID-19 Safety Plan, which added the requirement for patrons to be fully vaccinated, as per new provincial requirements
The Board appointed Ahrar Monsur to the role of Carpentry Manager, and plans to ask him to evaluate our shed as his first task, since it is starting to show wear.
The Board appointed Emily Crawford, Rachel Hammermueller, and Natasha Jackson as Communications Officers. This new Communications team will be working on reimagining the strategy of the Communications office going forward and splitting the various communications tasks among themselves.
The Board approved the plan for the Garage Sale happening on October 3, and recommended to the team running it that they do a simple screening of people coming by to purchase items rather than requiring full vaccinations (full vaccinations are only required for patrons who come to see shows in our space, not for walking through for a few minutes to buy something).
The Board approved dates for a 2021/2022 season. In addition to our shows already planned (The Devil’s Disciple; Telephone Madness; March Madness; and Our Home, Our Stories), there will be 2 mainstage productions. The particular shows will be selected by a combination of the Board Re-Opening Committee and the Artistic Steering Committee. Barring COVID shutdowns & restrictions, here are the dates:
The Devil’s Disciple Audio Play (online only): November 11 – 28
Telephone Madness (online only): October 15 – December 4
KWLT Main Stage #1: February 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 (auditions November 22-26)
March Madness: February 25 – March 5
Our Home, Our Stories: 3 weekends in April 7 – May 22, TBD
KWLT Main Stage #2: June 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 (auditions March 28 – April 1)
The Board had a lengthy discussion regarding whether to make vaccinations mandatory for volunteers participating in in-person events at either of our spaces. The board is in favour of vaccine requirements, but would prefer to wait to make a mandate until the provincial vaccine passport app is available. The Board resolved not to introduce the mandate now, but will decide the motion at the October board meeting.
After the Finance Director presented a question regarding our contract with our Bookkeeper, the question was raised as to whether the Finance Director has the power to enact contracts by herself as per our bylaws. To cover our bases, we quickly passed a motion to empower the Finance Director to execute contracts with bookkeepers. This question came up because Board members individually don’t have much power except what is spelled out specifically in the bylaws. Most power is reserved for the Board as a whole, which takes action and makes decisions via motions at official meetings of the Board. Especially when it comes to taking care of day-to-day business needs, it is more convenient for the board to simply empower a role to take action by themself.
The Board met our potential future Communications Director, Rachel, whom I introduced in the last instalment of the Black Box Backdrop. The next step is for President (me) and the current Communications Director (Matt) to meet with Rachel to discuss expectations and onboarding, and if that goes well, we will aim to appoint Rachel in October.
A high school student looking for a co-op position reached out to the theatre, but after a brief discussion the Board decided that KWLT is not prepared to manage a co-op student.
An idea was shared to increase our reach to non-English communities by asking our membership to translate messages of welcome to share. This idea will be considered by the Board DEI committee.
We learned that the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act is finally coming into effect this year, with a 3-year grace period for organizations to make any required changes. I will be looking more closely at this Act and determine what changes we will need to make.
The Board discussed how many of our officers would like to survey our membership to learn more about their desires (e.g. in terms of what workshops to put on, what actions to take to improve diversity, etc.). I’ll be working to consolidate these and find ways to get answers to questions that are not constant Google forms for you all to fill out!
Show Control Committee
The new booth is nearly complete, they are just waiting for the new equipment to be delivered (it has been delayed significantly due to the usual COVID supply chain problems)
They are ready for the October 3rd garage sale
Lobby Renewal Committee
COVID Safety Documentation/Policy Committee
Updated the covid policy to include information about vaccinations.
The Board-level committee is being disbanded in favour of the new Communications team which will report to the board through the Communications Director.
Artistic Steering Committee
Applications are being taken until September 30th so an update will be sent by email once members have been selected.
A place will be held for KWLT DEI representation.
A 3 part workshop will be held over the course of October to help create an internal Vision Statement that the committee will use to shape activities moving forward.
I have some very exciting news to share with you all today – at our September 27th board meeting, we have a motion on the agenda to appoint a new board member into our Communications role! Rachel Bolton is new to our community, so I wanted to give everybody a brief introduction and give you a chance to send along any questions you have for her. Here is a brief write-up she shared with me:
“Volunteering to make a difference in my local community is important to me. Most of my volunteer time pre-covid was education-related – as the Chair of the King Edward parent council and with the WRDSB on their roundtable on equity and inclusion centred around poverty. Prior to that, I served on the Board for the Brant Historical Society. I’m looking forward to putting my skills to use at Kitchener Waterloo Little Theatre to connect with our local community as we re-emerge in this (almost) post-Covid time to rediscover live theatre and the joy of being together to share in the arts.
“My primary skill set is in organizational development, meeting facilitation, and strategic planning with a holistic and inclusive approach. I also have a diploma in Writing and Producing for Television through SAIT’s Cinema, Television, Stage, and Radio program and 5 years of experience in the industry. Through this experience, my work as a consultant in other organizations, and being successfully self-employed since 2005, I have a strong background and experience in meeting the priorities of the Communications portfolio.”
Rachel has already begun heading up our new Communications committee, and I’m really excited for the vision and expertise she brings to rallying teams to get work done. She also has experience in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which is something that will be invaluable for us this year as we undertake our own work in that area.
For anyone wondering how Director appointments work when someone is not elected at our AGM, our bylaws allow for the Board to fill vacancies by majority vote as long as we still have a quorum (50%+1) of member-elected directors. Directors appointed by the board only serve until the next AGM, at which point they must be re-elected by the membership should they want to continue. There is some precedent for this – this was actually how I first joined the board of directors way back in 2015!
I encourage you to send along any questions you have for our (potential) new board member to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). All members are also welcome to attend board meetings – if you would like to meet Rachel (digitally, as we are still not meeting in-person), please email email@example.com, and Monica will send you an invite. Our board meeting is on Monday, September 27th, beginning at 7:30pm.
Well, we had our August board meeting and boy was it a doozy! We ended up splitting the meeting into two parts over two days so that we had time to discuss everything. Here’s what happened:
We appointed a slate of non-board officers! You can see the full list on the Board & Officers page on the website.
We decided to buy ad space in the Rainbow Spaces Directory, a new quarterly publication by Spectrum.
We decided to allow our upcoming radio play, The Devil’s Disciple, to rehearse in-person in our theatre space or Gaukel rehearsal space, providing COVID restrictions are followed.
We had a lengthy discussion about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the actions we would like to take as a board.
Several board members presented ideas on different initiatives we could undertake (e.g. workshops, creating a DEI committee or officer role), though the board did not decide to undertake any specific activities yet. We decided to task a sub-committee of the board to create more specific plans and bring them back for approval.
The board made a commitment to taking action to foster greater diversity (including, but not limited to, race, age, gender identity/expression, ability, and social identity) in our volunteer base, membership, and audiences.
A motion was presented: “The Board of Directors at the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre and KWLT as a whole, affirms that we value: Freedom of thought; freedom of conscience; freedom of expression; and the rights of the minority view”
The board discussed this motion in closed session (i.e. the minutes are not available for non-board members).
The board decided to postpone this motion indefinitely (i.e. the board did not vote for or against the motion).
We approved a COVID safety plan and several screening forms for our spaces. We’re working on cleaning up the document and it will be available to read soon. Our plan was based on templates provided by the Region of Waterloo. Some key points in the safety plan:
The Box Office Manager (currently Nadia Ursacki) has been charged with most of the administration duties (e.g. keeping track of the screening forms).
Volunteers working in our space must fill out the screening form on each visit. Renters must screen and provide visitor logs to the KWLT Rentals Manager. Guests/audience members will be prompted with the screening questions by an usher and will be required to provide information for contact tracing.
Any productions, KWLT or renter, must attempt to limit congregation at all times. For this purpose, our concessions booth will remain closed. (Shows are still allowed to have intermissions, but they must manage intermission so as to limit congregation of guests.)
Performers must be 2m from audience members at all times.
Masks will be required for audience members and volunteers during productions, except for on-stage performers, who may be maskless while they perform.
Everyone in the building must wear a mask/face covering at all times on the premises, except for break times while eating or drinking or when physically distanced from others (on consent of all present).
We also empowered the COVID committee to make adjustments to the plan as warranted, with changes to be ratified at the next board meeting. This will allow us to be flexible as regulations change.
We discussed an action arising from a Risk Assessment Survey that our insurance providers conducted – our electrical panel had some open slots that were not properly covered with filler plates. This was completed by Matt Walsh and our insurance provider was satisfied.
We discussed a grant available from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation. We decided to apply for it to cover costs for marketing for our (eventual) re-opening extravaganza.
A community member reached out to suggest that the theatre was ideally located to participate in the 519 Community Collective Pantry project. Nobody had reached out to the project yet, but our understanding was that we would basically allow the project to build and maintain a community pantry on our property. We decided that we’d like to participate, and Matt Walsh volunteered to reach out to the project and manage that.
Additionally, we had the idea of putting up a “Free Little Library” with some of our plays that live on shelves in the lobby. We decided to bring this idea to our 2 new Librarian officers to discuss.
Capacity Canada, a local charity focused on supporting non-profit organizations and boards, is currently offering online courses in board governance. A number of board members were potentially interested in the training, and our Vice President (Lenore Brooks) agreed to look around to see if any grants would be available that could cover the costs of this training.
There were a number of shout-outs:
To Matt from Nicole for handling the Risk Assessment Survey and the resulting action
To Carolyn from Nicole for handling some paperwork from our bank while Nicole was away
To the board from Carolyn for taking the time to meet with her 1:1
To the Show Control Committee from Matt for their hard work on the booth
To Katrina Howald from Matt for helping with some clean-up efforts in the theatre
We booked our next meeting for September 27th, and picked the 4th Mondays of months as a recurring date.
Our Artistic Director, Colleen Daley, is starting to put together plans for our next season.
She’s roughly planning to start staging productions in early 2022. She intends to bring a planned schedule to the September board meeting.
She is also planning to form an Artistic Steering committee with volunteers from the membership to share the job of soliciting and choosing applications for the future. Her intention here is to make the AD role less work for a single person, and also give people an idea of what the role is like without having to commit fully to it. Members will work with the Artistic Director to define and identify opportunities that align with the theater’s artistic vision, as well as soliciting and selecting productions for the upcoming and future seasons. If you are interested in joining this committee, please email Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A small board committee was formed to start re-opening plans.
Here’s the status of our currently active committees. If you are interested in joining/starting a committee or would like to provide input, please email email@example.com
Show Control Committee
Most of the construction is complete; they are just waiting for some orders to arrive so tech can be installed. WIth these changes, our storage space is reduced, so they’re considering doing a yard sale of some sort to help get rid of some of our extra stuff.
Lobby Renewal Committee
No new updates from the Lobby Renewal Committee.
Communications Role Committee
A handful of volunteers reached out to express interest in helping with some of Communications. These people plus the board members who formed the original committee will be meeting on August 31st to meet each other and start talking about how the workload can be shared.
COVID Safety Policy Committee
The committee presented the COVID safety plan to the board, which was approved. Their next task is to ensure that we are in compliance with what we said we’d do (e.g. adding screening signage). We also asked that they create some FAQ or similarly easy-to-ready documents for volunteers, since the plan itself is fairly dense.
Board DEI Committee (short-term)
This is a brand new committee. The intention of this committee is to be short-term and simply create a plan to be approved by the board. In particular, this committee was tasked with forming goals around diversity and starting to survey our membership to understand what our demographics actually are right now, since we do not have this information easily accessible. This committee is also tasked with defining how the membership will be involved in the plan and conversations.
Board Re-Opening Committee
This is a brand new committee. The intention of this committee is to start creating plans for re-opening. This committee is a little nebulous in mandate at the moment, but once there is a clearer picture of the goals of the committee, I’ll share that.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in attending a board meeting (next one is September 27th), you can always reach out to email@example.com to get an invite!
This week, I’m going to talk about a number of outstanding projects that I’m thinking about for the theatre, but don’t yet have owners. Some of these are topics that came up in the previous board year that didn’t go anywhere, or questions/decisions that were deferred to a future date.
Hello and welcome to the first edition of the Black Box Backdrop! In this biweekly column, I will be talking about all the work happening in the background that supports our excellent events – notes from board meetings, committees, etc.
Board Meeting Highlights: July 5th
Here are the highlights of what happened at our first board meeting:
We appointed each board member to the board-level roles. You can see the full list on the Board Page
We approved a budget maximum of $13,500 for the Show Control Committee to purchase the equipment and construction materials to expand and improve our tech booth.
We approved a form to be signed by company credit card holders going forward. The goal with this form is to ensure that all KWLT credit card holders understand their responsibilities with the cards, as well as the repercussions for abuse. Notably, this form is NOT being implemented as a response to a problem, but as a risk mitigation measure to help prevent future problems.
We discussed 2 inquiries from the production team of The Devil’s Disciple: when the production should go forward, and what COVID restrictions exist around rehearsal and performance.
The date for this production remains to-be-determined, as the Artistic Director is newly coming up-to-speed with our productions and will be more prepared to set dates at a later time.
The Board realized that they will need to create policies for rehearsals and performances in accordance with provincial rules in the transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic. A committee was formed to begin collecting information and bring a recommendation to the board, consisting of Nadia Ursacki, Todd Vercoe, and Monica Maika.
We discussed promotions for the Flash Madness event which occurred July 9-11, and took action to ensure it was shared out by the KWLT social media accounts.
We received a complaint from a member regarding holding the AGM despite the widespread power outages across Kitchener and Waterloo. We did not discuss this in depth, but noted it for future consideration should something similar happen in the future. Notably, the AGM still had enough attendance by our membership to achieve quorum for voting. Quorum at general meetings, per our bylaws, consists of members who are NOT Board Members, and must be at least the number of Board Members at the time the meeting is called minus one. There were eight board members at the time of the meeting, so quorum at the AGM was seven KWLT members who were not on the board (and there were 21).
We discussed the problem of not having anyone interested in the role of Communications Director. (While Matt Walsh helpfully took the title and is working hard to make sure the role is covered, he is not interested in the full role on a permanent basis.) Our hypothesis is that we may have more success were we to find a way to spread the load among a team of officers under the Communications Director. The Board created a committee to explore the problem more in-depth and present a recommendation, consisting of Matt Walsh, Elizabeth McFaul, and Colleen Daley.
Here are the current active committees, their mandates, and current status. If you are interested in joining/starting a committee or would like to provide input, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Show Control Committee
The Show Control Committee was established in the 2019-2020 season and was tasked with the analysis, planning, and execution of redesigning the KWLT tech booth. Currently, they are in the process of purchasing and gathering materials to begin the actual re-building of the booth.
Lobby Renewal Committee
The Lobby Renewal Committee has been ongoing for several years, and was tasked with the design and execution of re-designing the KWLT lobby to improve the experience of patrons and Box Office volunteers. A majority of the re-design has been completed, with only some signage and PPE (personal protective equipment) installation remaining.
Communications Role Committee
This committee was newly established at the July 5th board meeting, tasked with proposing a new breakdown of the Communications role & officers to the Board.
COVID Safety Policy Committee
This committee was newly established at the July 5th board meeting, tasked with proposing COVID safety policies for our productions & events, taking into account provincial and federal restrictions.
Next time in the Black Box Backdrop, I’ll be talking about some of the ‘miscellaneous’ projects happening around the theatre that I’m hoping to tackle over the next year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me at email@example.com!