SPO’s Response to The Scarborough Community Renewal Campaign Report

January 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of The Scarborough Community Renewal Campaign, sponsored by the Rotary Clubs in Scarborough. We are extremely supportive of the Renewal Campaign, as we believe that the development and growth of cultural organizations like The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) enrich and unify the broader Scarborough community.

Since its founding in 1980, the SPO has been deeply committed to providing opportunities for musicians – especially young artists – to develop and to practice their art for the benefit of our community. The majority of our musicians are volunteers from all walks of life who love music and want to share it with their neighbours.

Our performances are held at two Scarborough locations – St. Paul’s L’Amoreaux Anglican Church (Warden & Finch) and The Salvation Army Scarborough Citadel (Warden & Lawrence) to offer a convenient and accessible venue for residents of Scarborough and neighbouring communities to enjoy high-quality, affordable music without leaving the community. In fact, in 2013, the SPO launched its current marketing campaign: “Great music right next door.” The objectives of this new branding were to highlight the SPO advantages:

Proximity – SPO venues are close to their audience. You don’t have to go to downtown Toronto.

Accessibility – Easier to get to if you don’t live in downtown Toronto. Easier and less expensive (even free) parking.

Intimacy – Smaller, more intimate venues bring the audience closer to the music, enhancing the experience.

Value – Less expensive performances that anyone can afford. Patrons can experience quality music more frequently.

Local Patronage – For those patrons in the northeast quadrant of the GTA, SPO provides an opportunity to support local entertainment.

Another important element of the SPO’s plan is to build on Scarborough’s unique blend of cultures. Music – the international language – builds bridges and is the glue that helps hold communities together.

Last season, for example, the SPO featured music of China blended with the music of the West, which attracted an appreciative audience, including many members of the Chinese community. This season Tamil dancers from India have performed with the orchestra, paying tribute to our large Tamil community in Scarborough.

As well, the SPO recognizes the importance of social media in reaching the community – the new social experiences. We have a dedicated volunteer who has done exceptional work to raise the SPO’s visibility on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

Aligning the SPO with Rotary’s community renewal vision

We are working hard to develop new ways to bring music to the community. Last year, the SPO participated in the successful Taste of Lawrence and received a warm reception. We would be very supportive of taking part in what your “Arts and Culture in Scarborough Discussion Paper” refers to as a “Scarborough Fair” and a “Taste of Scarborough.” The community has already proven it has a large appetite for these broader, outdoor community events.

Your report also talks about outdoor and park events for the orchestra. The SPO has made outdoor events a priority and the Board has discussed the logistics (location, sponsorship, etc.) of hosting outdoor concerts. We know there is a market for outdoor concerts and are exploring ways to make them happen. Sponsorship by an organization like The Rotary Clubs in Scarborough can help make this dream come true.

Certainly, a true performing arts center for Scarborough is long overdue and the SPO would welcome having a stable home to perform in.

Another tremendous and cost-effective opportunity is for cross-promotion. 
We look forward to working closely with The Rotary Clubs in Scarborough in building our shared vision for community renewal. We feel that our long-standing partnership with Rotary will provide a strong foundation upon which to realize this challenging, but important vision.

Paul Bolton
President

Stephen Wilson
Director