Friday, April 24, 2009

Yes, I won the pasta bowl...

[Well after three years of being nominated my number finally came up. Last night I was humbled to accept the "Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award" at the annual Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce Awards of Excellence ceremony. Here's the extended version of my acceptance speech - I had to cut a bit to stay under the time limit, and I really hate when people make long speeches anyways. While I don't often like to toot my own horn, I do like to toot Grinder's, and last evening was no exception:]


Grinder Productions produces over 20 shows every year, in four venues throughout Centre Wellington: The Fergus Grand Theatre, The Ennotville Library, The Belwood Hall and the Elora Centre for the Arts, so obviously, we’re still a very small company.

I've been doing some research on the economic impact of live theatre in communities such as ours. The numbers vary, but on average the conservative consensus seems to be that for every dollar that is spent on a theatre ticket at least another 5 dollars are spent in the community, whether or dining, accommodations, or other pre and post show activities. Every single dollar. That means that even at our lowest ticket price of $10 another $50 in economic activity is being generated every time we sell a ticket. Given our median ticket price and the number of patrons who come to our shows that translates into over $100,000 of positive economic spin-offs from Grinder Productions events every year. And we're just getting started.

But obviously it's not just about dollars and cents. It's the members of Grinder Productions who truly form the heart and soul of our company, in partnership with you, our audience. We enjoy an active membership of over 200 actors, directors, designers, musicians and technical craftspeople, who come from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. We have seasoned veterans who have been doing plays for years rehearsing alongside fresh-faced newcomers working on their very first show. Some of our younger members have gone on to earn a living in the arts, and already boast thriving careers as models, fashion designers and stage managers, to say nothing of our actors, a few of whom have already gone on to leading roles in professional theatre, independent film, and major motion pictures.

Fergus, Elora, and the surrounding area have made many contributions to Canada’s rich theatrical heritage over the years, including Dr. Norman Craig's World War One epic You're Lucky if you're Killed in 1933, and several world-premieres that Norm Foster, Canada's most-produced playwright, chose to stage in this community about a decade ago. Grinder Productions is proud to continue this tradition, contributing plays like Home Farm, a study of life on the family farm after Mad Cow Disease, and All My Sins Remembered, one of Centre Wellington's contributions to the Shakespeare: Made in Canada festival, to the Canadian dramatic canon.

I’m inviting each and every one of you here tonight to experience the magic of live theatre. On May 15th and 16th we’re presenting a double bill at the Ennotville Library. The first show, “The Heart of Eden,” is the first production from Hopeless Romantics, our new weddings-based touring division. The second show is a hilarious comedy entitled “Yes, Your Worship,” and it pokes some good clean fun at the foibles of small-town politics – something I’m sure you know all about. Beyond that our summer season starts June 11th, with four shows at the Ennotville Library and three at the Belwood Hall. Full details and advance tickets are available on our website,

I’ll sum up by quoting the Polish theatre director Jerry Grotowski, who said “all you really need for theatre to happen is an actor and an audience.” Well believe me, Grinder Productions has some actors, and all of them are eager to greet all of you with open arms.

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