Tea n Tales - 2018 guest artist lineup
by the Guelph Guild of Storytellers
The Guelph Guild of Storytellers, along with the Guelph Enabling Gardens, is announcing the 2018 line-up for the 11th Annual Tea 'n' Tales Storytelling Festival at the Guelph Enabling Gardens. The programme includes five tellers who will be making their debut performances at the festival.
Toronto’s Lynn Torrie combines a lifelong love of stories with almost 30 years of work as an occupational therapist. She enjoys traditional tales that not only entertain, but also teach us how to live well with others and with our environment.
Kait Taylor of Kitchener combines the energy of Red Fraggle, the silly of Gilda Radner, and a peppering of thoughtfulness, and empathy from Mary Poppins... and you end up with Kait’s tales.
Judy Caulfield has been telling stories for over three decades, from school settings, to libraries, to festivals, and to informal song. Paul Caulfield is a singer, guitarist, and mandolin player whose repertoire includes ’60s folk songs, alt-country ballads and playful rockers. He is a member of Credit River Time, a Brampton-based quartet that specializes in old-tyme music and as a solo artist he’s noted for his humorous tellings of the stories behind the songs.
Mary Baldasaro of Kitchener is an educator and storyteller. Her repertoire includes traditional, historical, literary, and original works. She has performed at Latitudes, the Toronto Storytelling Festival, Sharon Temple, and Feminine Harbor.
These artists will be joined by returning performers from both Guelph and elsewhere in the Metro and South-Western Ontario region.
The schedule for the hour-long tellings at the Enabling Gardens in Guelph’s Riverside Park is:
June 29: The wonderful voice of Tannis Slimmon will open this year’s Tea ‘n’ Tales festival. Tannis is a critically acclaimed Canadian musician who has been singing, songwriting, recording, and touring locally, nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Also telling will be local raconteur, Brian Holstein, with his tales and poetry from around the globe.
July 6: Acclaimed local troubadour James Gordon will be returning with his songs of local folks and history, as well as his sometimes stranger-than-fiction tales about being on the road, travelling the continent to entertain. He will be joined by Michael Doherty with his tales of Ireland, old Montreal and little-known history of this country.
July 13: A debut performance by Toronto’s Lynn Torrie, along with local teller, puppeteer, playwright and elocutionist Jay Wilson (“Pandora’s Sox”) who will return with his tales and his poetry.
July 20: Elora storyteller and social activist Donna McCaw for her eleventh season. Donna always charms her audience with her tales, often stemming from her prairie upbringing. Joining her will be one of the Guild’s almost-original members, Ann Estill, who will again tell her thoughtful tales.
June 27: Returning yet again by popular demand will be Mr. Guelph Guitar, Doug Larson, with his stories ranging from his discovery of Ontario’s old cedar tree, to the construction of the Guelph Guitar, to tales of his grandson. Joining him will be Guelph teller, Jenny Higgins, making a return with her energetic tales.
August 3: Jan Sherman will be returning yet again, to the delight of all. Jan is an Anishinaabe Métis woman, mother, storyteller, drummer, and singer. She'll share stories of her life, and from First Nations traditions. She will be joined by guild tellers.
August 10: Kait Taylor, along with Sarah Abusarar, of Toronto. Sarah, a native of Pakistan, grew up in Croatia, from whence many of her tales were woven. She returns after a successful debut performance last year in Guelph.
August 17: Judy and Paul Caulfield will be joined by local Maryann Bailey and her warm tales.
August 24: Returning for their third summer will be the wonderful duo of Brenda Lewis and Gayle Ackroyd with their musical talents to again please the audience. Also appearing will be Mary Baldarsaro.
August 31: Our final performance for the season will again feature Adwoa Badoe, author, storyteller, and African Dance instructor. This Guelph resident has entertained audiences young and old with her appearances at Toronto and Montreal Storytelling Festivals, Hillside and Eden Mills. Joining her will be another Guelph icon, Sya VanGeest who has told stories to all with an unparalleled passion that draws in her audience.
Each hour-long performance begins promptly at 10:30. It is strongly suggested that audience members bring their own lawn chair, and there will be a free coffee, iced tea or lemonade for the first 30 people who bring their own mug. We will not be supplying any single-use cups (paper or foam) and we encourage people to bring their own mugs.
All performances are free, but donations will be graciously accepted.
How to Start a Creative Business
by Jane Litchfield
Congratulations! Your art or craft is at a place where you are ready to make it your livelihood. Now what? Starting a creative business is exciting and a little scary – and you should approach it much the way you would any kind of business. Here are 10 key steps.
1. Research your market
“A lot of businesses don’t do enough research,” says Mona Afshari of WorkInCulture. “They’re too tied to their product or service and they just produce. Then they find out there is no need for their product or not enough people to buy it.
Iris Dorton makes functional pottery that balances beauty with utility. Image courtesy of the artist.
“You need to know who your target audience is, and how to talk to them. Your research should tell you what they do, where they are, what platforms they are on. That’s where you go,” says Afshari, who presents workshops on starting a creative business. Wondering where to start? Afshari suggests going to your local business centre or economic development centre.
You’ll also want to suss out the competition. Do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) on similar businesses in your market. What are their price points? Where/how do they sell?
What if your research turns up a lot of competition? “There will always be someone making something similar,” Afshari says, “It’s how you talk about it that matters.”
Which brings us to our next point….
2. Know your “why”
Maybe it’s the look on a customer’s face when they find that perfect piece, maybe it’s because you have stories inside you that demand to be told, or maybe -- like Iris Dorton of Blue Iris Studios -- you took a pottery class that changed your life. Whatever your reason, you need to know why you are doing this. Your “why” is not only compelling for customers, but also for you on those days when you need motivation to get out of bed in the morning (or stay up late at night).
Afshari says that when she sees people fail it is often because they are not passionate about what they do, and they simply lose steam.
3. Know yourself
Dorton stresses that before deciding to launch, it is important to look inside. “Loving making doesn’t mean you’re going to be love making a living that way. How do you want your life to look? Know your strengths and weaknesses and know what you’ll need help with. Are you self-motivated? Are you a procrastinator? For me, the hardest part about being a potter is working alone all day.”
In other words, do an honest SWOT analysis of yourself, and adjust your plans accordingly.
Which brings us to…
4. Create a business plan
Sorry, being creative doesn’t mean you can get away without a plan. Set some specific goals. You’ll thank yourself later.
Your business plan will answer simple questions such as how much product you can make, how much you can realistically sell, what your overhead costs are, and how you will fund your inventory. “It will probably change in a year or two, but it’s great to have goals to work toward,” says Afshari, who is Marketing and Communications Manager at WorkInCulture.
Afshari recommends using online business tools to write a business plan, such as those from Futurpreneur Canada or BDC.
5. Possibly pivot
Now that you’ve committed to specifics, be prepared to change. If your plan was to specialize in square-metre works, but they’re gathering dust while your square-foot studies fly off the shelves, you might want to change gears. Dorton switched to making porcelain jewelry when she had an injury, and she continues to sell it today.
6. Don’t neglect bookkeeping
The important thing is to set up systems and develop habits from the start and then stick to them, Afshari says.
Dorton agrees: “You can’t make [your products] 100% of the time. If you drop the ball on paperwork, you’ll regret it. If you know you can’t do it or won’t do it, you better find somebody who will.”
Afshari says one of the first things you should do is to open a separate bank account. “It helps you stay organized, especially if you’re not good at bookkeeping. You can see what you’re spending, and it helps you budget and keep track of expenses and income.”
Even something as simple as collecting receipts and bills in envelopes will give you a leg up come tax time. “I keep a folder with each line number [of the tax forms] on it,” says Dorton.
Again, there are many online platforms for bookkeeping, and phone apps to remind you of deadlines. Ask others in similar businesses what they use. If you’re not already doing your own taxes, however, that may be a sign that you will need help with bookkeeping, Afshari says.
It’s not necessary to register for HST until you have collected $30,000 in revenue in the past 12 months, or in a given quarter. If you cross that threshold, you must apply within 30 days.
7. Start lean
No corporate jet, yet. But seriously, don’t spend money renting a storefront until you’ve tried selling at a market, online, or in another existing shop first. Can you keep up with the demand? Is there demand? Do consider renting or borrowing expensive equipment for your first shows.
8. Market yourself
“I love making pots. I hate photographing pots, telling people how beautiful they are, and shouting ‘look at me’ on social media,” admits Dorton.
Marketing may not be your favourite thing either, but people need to know you’re out there and where and why to buy your work. Ideally, create a brand and a logo. They add to your credibility and are recognizable across various platforms.
Although you may be tempted to rely on social media, you do need a website. (It doesn’t have to be perfect.) “Your website is your landing area; people can go from there to social media,” says Afshari. There are many simple drag and drop platforms for building a site that are created for non-developers. Also you can host an online store through your site, using services like Shopify, Square, Wix, and others.
Where you sell depends on your target market. Dorton does some shows, some wholesale, and sells some things only in her shop (179 Woolwich St., Guelph, as of mid-June). She says online sales are challenging for a potter. “I would need a whole packing room with giant rolls of bubble paper. You have to decide who you are and what you do. Online doesn’t work for me.”
Guelph Arts Council helps promote members and lists calls to artists and upcoming exhibitions and sales. Need some help with applying to shows? Drop in or give us a call. And check out our 5 easy steps on How to Write Your Artist’s Bio.
WorkInCulture also offers resources such as free webinars on specific business topics including branding and e-commerce.
9. Talk to people
Talk to other working artists, others who have started small businesses, people who might buy from you, and friends and family. All these people can help you hone in on what your business should look like and where to get help. “Don’t work in a bubble,” Afshari says. This applies once you are up and running, too. Ask clients and strangers at exhibits what they love about your work. “It’s encouraging and energizing to hear from others.”
10. Believe in yourself
Of course you won’t have everything figured out when you launch your business, and if you wait for the perfect time, it won’t happen. So go for it.
Dorton says she has no regrets around giving up her successful marketing writing career to become a potter. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done to make a living, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”