The Rozsa Foundation is a proud advocate of the arts community in Calgary, Alberta and across the country. Knowledge is the basis of advocacy, so the Foundation highlights best practices from around the country. Since collaboration is a value and a preferred approach to community concerns, the Foundation often works with other arts advocates and philanthropic agencies.


Edmonton Poetry Festival's Jannie Edwards reflects on RAMP

In June 2016, the Edmonton Poetry Festival's Executive Director, Rayanne Doucet, concluded her Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP) with an excellent Action Learning Project (ALP) presentation. Festival board's Vice President, Jannie Edwards attended the presentation and contributed her thoughts.

For years, I taught at Grant MacEwan College, now MacEwan University, and ended my career there as Associate Dean of the Performing, Visual and Communication Arts Division. One of our vital programs in that Division was, and still is, the Arts and Cultural Management program, and my involvement with curriculum redesign and ongoing evaluation of that program gave me the perspective and experience to more fully appreciate the need for arts leadership and professional development. 

So bravo to the Rozsa Foundation for your eagle vision in putting resources toward that vision! Too often, we are put into a reactive mode of response in the not for profit arts sector. I recall my friend and colleague, Denise Roy, a longtime arts advocate and visionary, saying that a not atypical day for the ED of a small theatre company might look something like this: "It's opening night, your lead actor has laryngitis, the toilet in the women's washroom is overflowing and somehow a snake got loose in the building." 

My takeaways from Rayanne's presentation are this: 

* Mary's acronym of BEG -- Believers Encouraging Generosity.  It sparked ideas about offering the innovative, electric, vital energy of our Edmonton Poetry Festival to funders -- not going hat in hand, but rather, going in with the attitude that we have an exciting opportunity for funders to get behind youth-focused, diverse programming and projects. 

* Researching existing  -- and cheaper -- software and database programs to help us keep track of our fundraising progress

* Ongoing Board professional development and strategic recruitment 

* Board awareness of the need to  integrate of all our programming into our brand 

* Continued resourcing of  video capture of some of our exciting events for marketing and donor engagement -- too often some of our wonderful, electric events are ephemeral! 

Lastly, we are so grateful for the energy and commitment of our ED, Rayanne Doucet!  


Rosebud Theatre receives facility upgrades

October 18th, 2016
Contributed by Renee Hall, Rosebud Centre of the Arts Marketing & Development Officer

Months ago, long-time supporters of Rosebud Centre of the Arts Terry and Laura Bachynski came to our theatre and were given a tour. After seeing the state of our wardrobe facility, they were driven to make a big change in our world.

At the time, Wardrobe was composed of two trailers located behind the Rosebud Church. At first glance one could see that the small space was extremely crowded with thousands of costumes, but looking closer it was also apparent there were bigger problems at hand. Additional issues included water leaking through the ceiling, mouse holes in the baseboards, no change rooms for private fittings, no washrooms, no space allotment for the Head of Wardrobe to create her transformational magic, and most of all, no space to teach our students effectively.

With the help of the Bachynski’s and The Rozsa Foundation, we have been able to provide a much needed upgrade to the facility, beginning with the transformation of our wardrobe building. As the before and after photos show, the improvements have truly transformed the capacity of our wardrobe department. Rosebud School of the Arts is currently seeing its highest enrollment to date, and this facility will be better able to teach students some tricks of the trade. The building will see upgrades to its laundry area as well as new cutting tables, washrooms, storage units, and change rooms for actors and students alike. New windows will provide better lighting and new costume storage will allow for longer life and use.

Our Head of Wardrobe Amy Castro provided over thirty five costumes for eight Rosebud Theatre productions in 2016. “I feel so blessed to have this,” Castro said after moving into the new space. “You feel more creative when you have the room to move and grow. Just the workshop itself has probably tripled in size.”

With only 2% of our operating costs coming from government grants this gift is extremely important to the growth of Rosebud, not only as a company but for the community that supports us.

We deeply appreciate the support from both the Bachynski’s and the Rozsa Foundation, and are looking forward to many years in our new space.


Emerging Themes in the Arts
June 27th, 2016

Submitted by Geraldine Ysselstein

The Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP) in 2015-2016 offered me the opportunity to connect with other arts administrators, raise common issues, and allow for new ideas to emerge. While others in my cohort focused on a challenge in their organization for their Action Learning Project (ALP), I focused on the non-profit arts sector as a whole.

“Emerging Themes in the Arts”


For over 10 years there has been research and discussion about the baby boomer generation soon retiring with the question of who will be leading in their place. Recently in April (2016), the Canadian Arts Summit met at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity to discuss: “Is the next generation ready to take over? Have we prepared new leaders to renew existing institutions?” Additionally, the Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) received funding in May (2016) for its “Preparing for Succession” project where they ask similar questions.

We need to move past these conversations and give young arts professionals the space and opportunity to lead. They need to be allowed to experiment, make mistakes, and work in their own way – just as their predecessors did. Moreover, leadership needs to be understood differently. Members of the younger generation often see leadership as fostering a culture of collaboration, connectedness, and change. The idea is that we are all leaders and leadership is rooted in the efforts of many.

Theme #2: Education

Emerging arts leaders have often received higher education in arts administration and non-profit management, which means they are more formally trained earlier on in their career. Higher education has increased the expectation by young arts professionals to find work that matches their skills, ambition, as well as need for sustainable compensation in order to pay off higher educational debt.

We can provide young arts professionals with work that builds upon theoretical knowledge and offers appropriate compensation. Additionally, mentorship opportunities can be provided to young arts professionals, but that is reciprocal. Reciprocal mentorship is a respectful give and take of knowledge, resources, and perspectives across age cohorts and disciplines.

Theme #3: Decent Work

In November 2015, the Mowat NFP put out a report entitled “Change Work: Valuing decent work in the not-for-profit sector”. Although many non-profit organizations are focused on promoting community health and well being, the report says: “little attention is paid to the sector’s role as an employer in promoting these same goals.”

The symptoms of distress the report identifies across the non-profit sector include: an hour-glass shaped labour market with few mid-level jobs, high rates of precarious forms of employment, low levels of retirement and benefits coverage, underinvestment in professional development, and poor work/life balance. These problems may be due to unstable funding, lack of resources, and organizational and sector culture.

We need to champion decent work in the arts by investing in our employees. We need to have a conversation about compensation and adopt practices that promote transparency, fairness, and equity. Paying attention to decent work will lead to deeper engagement, encourage arts professionals to stay in the sector, and ultimately have greater community impact.

Theme # 4: Diversity

Our communities are diverse, but the nonprofit sector does not always reflect this reality says the HR Council.  Who does “diversity” include? The HR Council lists Aboriginal - First Nations, Inuit, and Métis; new Canadians; visible minorities; women; gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited and queer (GLBTTQ); and those who have visible or invisible disabilities.

Supporting diversity is something most people want to do, but emerging arts leaders see diversity and inclusion as a necessity to improving arts organizations and the field. In this city, Calgary’s Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts has recently brought the topic of diversity to the forefront. Additionally, the DiverseCity onBoard provides board governance training for those with diverse backgrounds. These initiatives and others recognize that an organization that reflects its diverse community benefits from more engaged employees, a more reflective community voice, and more innovation and creativity.

Theme #5: Resources

Calgary Chamber of Volunteer Organizations estimates that there are almost 25,000 non-profits in Alberta. Nine percent are arts and culture organizations. This creates a lot of competition for financial and human resources, which leads to the following challenges:

-new and small organizations have difficulty competing with large institutions who have structure and the recognition of the community

-funding often focuses on project-based funding (which is short-term and unpredictable) rather than core funding that would help make long-term decisions, implement strategic plans, and retain staff

-new models of funding are focused on measuring outcomes and impact and this creates new pressures on organizations

Rather than continuing to compete for financial and human resources, what if we supported and demonstrated a culture of trust and collaboration? Ideas for this include: resources could be used to help organizations manage relationships and partnerships with other organizations; new emerging groups could be encouraged to find a “parent organization” who could support them with governance and administration in a shared platform; or back office arrangements or cluster management could be encouraged where administration is shared amongst existing non-profit groups. 

Let’s be creative, collaborative and courageous to make these necessary changes. 


Geraldine Ysselstein is an arts manager, advocate, creative thinker, and community collaborator. In the last 10 years, she has worked and volunteered with a variety of organizations who are involved in arts, culture, heritage, and nature-based activities.

Geraldine is also an enthusiastic student. In this past year, she has taken the Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP), the City of Calgary’s Artists Working in Community program, and is currently enrolled in the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s New Fundamentals program.

As an arts leader, Geraldine is turning her attention to strengthening the arts and culture sector by focusing on its human resources – the people who work and volunteer in the arts. In her creative time, she enjoys backpacking and x-country skiing, going to folk festivals, and writing and illustrating children’s books.


Calgary Beyond the Crossroads: Striding with purpose towards becoming an international destination for music
June 22, 2016

Contributed by Jeni Piepgrass, Director of Development for the National Music Centre

In political speeches and over cocktails at receptions, there is often talk of Calgary shedding its brand as an “oil and cowboy” town and achieving our “potential”. One can assume this means putting an end to the “yogurt joke” forever. For those of us close to the cultural sector, we are pleased to report that this is no longer some sort of elusive goal out there on the horizon. Our city is so far past that now, it’s hard to remember a time when that joke was clever.

Calgary no longer needs to apologize for being a one trick pony, or for having less culture than your favourite breakfast food. We’ve arrived – it’s not our potential we’re talking about anymore, it’s our reality. Especially in when it comes to music.

This is no accident or stroke of luck – this is the result of decades of strategic investment. In the 80’s, the people of Alberta recognized an opportunity to invest in our culture, and they seized it. Music was at the core of many of the major projects, like the Calgary Performing Arts Centre.

In 1990, the Rozsa Foundation, with a commitment to building capacity in the arts sector, came on to the scene with a transformational message: arts organizations can be successful from a business perspective. This elevated arts managers to the status of entrepreneur, building support and credibility for the arts, and for music, in a whole new way.

Fast-forward to the Alberta’s centennial, around the time the idea for the National Music Centre was germinating, and two of our major performing arts companies were creating original works. For most cities our size, the classics of opera and ballet where what people could look forward to. In Calgary, however, we were welcoming Frobisher and the Fiddle and the Drum to rave international reviews. No culture, you say?

In 2007, Sled Island arrived on the scene and began its steady climb towards becoming an international destination for the avant guard of modern music.

2008 brought the JUNOs to town for the first time, and we showed the country that this city shows up in a big way for music.

In 2012, we celebrated a year as the cultural capital of Canada.

In 2013, we broke ground on Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

Now in 2016, as we prepare to open Studio Bell to the public, we are celebrating the Year of Music in Calgary. This is our opportunity to say to the nation “let there be no doubt - Calgarians care deeply about music. We have been making it, appreciating it and innovating with it for a very long time. We are well on our way to becoming an internationally renowned music city.”

The National Music Centre, Canada’s new home for music, coming to fruition in Calgary is the product of a community eager to invest in making our city a global cultural destination and an entrepreneurial approach to arts leadership.

The National Music Centre team is so proud to call Calgary home and we can’t wait to welcome you in July 2016 – see you soon at Studio Bell!


Timothy Shantz on Calgary's Choral Community
June 6th, 2016

Contributed by Timothy Shantz, Chorus Master for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director of Luminous Voices and Spiritus Chamber Choir ​

As a choral conductor living and working in Calgary since 2008, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with hundreds of singers and conductors in Calgary. I have also enjoyed watching and listening to colleagues present excellent performances around the city. 

It is incredible to witness the variety these choirs and conductors bring from different parts of the city; different cultural groups, various religious organizations and communities. We sing pop, jazz, folk, contemporary choral music, classical, ancient and everything in between. It would be interesting to do a choral census in Calgary to learn how many people participate in choirs on regular or semi-regular basis. There is no doubt that thousands of Calgarians sing in groups on a regular basis. It is probably one of the highest participation percentages of all art forms in the city.

I am a proud choral musician, working as a conductor but also as a singer and administrator and executive director. I am a musician who cherishes the classics, explores the forgotten and imagines the new all while working with a measuring stick that connects us with the world. As a perfectionist I care about world-class singing and performance but I also value and celebrate the community building aspect of choral music. Our singing, in whatever form, binds us together. It reminds us of the power and strength of community and culture. Through the music we communicate our history, culture, hopes, dreams, sorrows, pains and joys.

As Chorus Master for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director of Luminous Voices and Spiritus Chamber Choir I am always looking for ways to connect our singing communities and our choirs. I want there to be a shared love and understanding of the singing that goes in Calgary but also throughout our province, our country and the world! We need to celebrate this incredible art form that is shared by millions worldwide and celebrate it in our own community.

Like so many other conductors, I want my singers to learn about choral music in our city and the world. I want them to experience music of all styles, genres, cultures and periods. Educating our community is what we are doing on a regular basis as directors teach new music, new languages and new styles to our singers and audience. We also want to expose our singers and audience to the highest level of music making!


Timothy Shantz brought CONSPIRARE: A Company of Voices​ to the National Bi-Annual Conference CHORAL CANADA, May 18-22, 2016. Of the experience, he says, "CONSPIRARE: A Company of Voices is one of America's finest professional choirs, having been in existence for over 20 years, with countless tours, recordings and performances to their credit. They are a GRAMMY AWARD winning choir who touch the hearts of their audience at every performance. It was extremely rare to have such a large and internationally recognized choir perform here in Calgary​... [and they were] one of the Highlights of the conference.​"


The Roots of Downstage's Pay-It-Forward Program
May 18, 2016

Contributed by Ellen Close, Artistic Producer, Downstage
Image credit: Tim Nguyen, Citrus Photography

It’s interesting to step back and remember where an idea took root. In 2013-14, I took part in the Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP) offered through the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. The highlight of the program for me was working on a season-long Applied Learning Project, for which I focused on ways to remove barriers to attending theatre.

Carving out time away from the day-to-day business of running our company was energizing, and I happily dove into research about emerging best practices. Then, with guidance from program faculty and support from our board, I conducted three focus groups with people who don’t typically attend theatre during our run of Wajdi Mouawad’s A Bomb in the Heart. These conversations revealed three major barriers: location, time of performance, and cost.

Since that time, we’ve piloted responses to the location barrier by touring our work to suburban and rural community halls, as well as experimenting with free online dissemination of shows like Jordan Tannahill’s rihannaboi95 which was livestreamed online and reached a demographically diverse audience in seven different countries. We’ve also shifted our performance times to better accommodate the lives of potential patrons.

However, it was the cost barrier that really captured my imagination during my season at RAMP. This truly complex challenge was expressed in three unique ways during our focus groups.

First was the assumed cost, with a night out at the theatre seen as expensive and for the elite. Despite our ticket prices maxing out at $25, perceptions shaped in part by larger theatre companies meant that some Calgarians who would otherwise be interested in our work had assumed the cost would be well beyond their means.

The second expression of this barrier was investment risk, as articulated by a whip-smart high school student in one of our focus groups. If you’ve never seen a play and don’t know what to expect — or worse, have only ever seen deadly dull theatre that doesn’t speak to your life — why take a risk with your limited entertainment dollars?

The third aspect of this barrier is, of course, the real cost. With 1 in 10 Calgarians living in poverty and many others on the edge even before the recent downturn, even deeply discounted tickets are out of reach for many.

It was clear that tackling this multifaceted barrier required not just tweaks to our existing practice but a bold new way forward to ensure access for all. In my research, I had learned about an initiative by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis called Radical Hospitality that provides no-cost access to all of their productions. With Radical Hospitality as an inspiration, Downstage built on the work of my Applied Learning Project to design our Pay-It-Forward program, which launched during the recent run of Matthew MacKenzie’s Benefit in April, 2016. The program currently offers 25% of tickets at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis, with the eventual goal of reaching a 50-50 split of paid to no-cost tickets. If they enjoy the show, program participants are invited to ‘pay forward’ the opportunity by spreading the word to others who may be interested, or making a donation at any level so that others can access tickets in the future.

We’re looking forward to building on Pay-It-Forward’s promising launch to make the program clearer and easier to access, knowing that its ultimate success will depend on sustained community engagement to spread the word to Calgarians who wouldn’t normally attend theatre, as well as our parallel work to reduce or remove other barriers. In the 2016-17 season, we’ll be debuting a project with the support of the Rozsa Foundation that will further explore new models of delivering theatre to allow for greater access— this time through small, playful participatory arts events that explore the themes of a World Premiere production over the course of a full season. We look forward to reporting back as this project shapes up and sharing what we learn as new initiatives spring forth from my work during RAMP.

Ellen Close will be taking part in a round-table panel discussion titled Is Oil a Dirty Word? Stories from the Humanities, on Sunday May 29th, 6:30-8:00pm at Theatre Junction Grand. The event is free and registration information can be found here

Her graphic novel, My Family and Other Endangered Species, premiered in 2014 with the support of the Rozsa Foundation and can be purchased at Playwrights Canada Press


Next Step Offers Opportunity and Growth
May 5, 2016

Contributed by Courtney Rocca
Junior Production Accountant, Crescent Point Energy
Board of Directors Vice President, Forte Musical Theatre Guild

Participating in the Rozsa Foundation’s Next Step program and being appointed to the Board of Directors for Forte Musical Theatre Guild (Forte) has been an invaluable experience. Participation as a member of the Board has brought many exciting and challenging experiences.  Although daunting at times, each experience has been rewarding in a different way. Board participation has provided me with an opportunity to not only develop personally and professionally but to also give back to the community that I live in – it is an opportunity that I believe every young or experienced professional should take advantage of.

The Board for Forte is a relatively small tight-knit team that works together to achieve the marketing, communication, fund development, strategic, and governance goals of the organization. I have been incredibly lucky to have been placed with an organization with a very positive outlook and one with a Board that is extremely hands on. From the moment I walked through the doors of the first Board meeting I was welcomed and made to feel a part of this team. My ideas were listened to and my opinion as a new Board member was always appreciated.

An important thing to note about Board participation is that the members of a Board are most often there because they want to be. This influences the working dynamic of the Board in such a great way. Regardless of the challenges faced by the organization, the members of the Board are always there with a positive attitude to overcome these challenges, to help the organization thrive, and to work together in an entrepreneurial and creative way to foster new opportunities and ongoing success for the organization. Every Board meeting is full of excited brainstorming and discussion. Forte, like any other non-profit organization, is not immune to challenge. As a result of multiple commitments and busy personal lives, the challenge of board turnover presented itself during my first year of Board participation.  As a result, I found myself appointed to the position of Vice President early on in my Board placement – a task that was daunting and that has challenged me ever since, but one that I strive to make the most of. I continually push to find ways in which I can use my knowledge and experience to contribute to the Board in a meaningful way.

As Vice President thus far I have found that my greatest contributions have been to the governance and strategic planning initiatives of the Board. I actively worked to help develop formal Board descriptions and an organizational chart to assist with the reorganization of the Board and the recruitment of a diverse team of Board members. Recruiting a Board with diverse professional backgrounds is critical to ensure that all Board activities can be reflected upon and evaluated from a variety of perspectives.  Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to develop a formal Board Manual to help guide the activities of the Board and act as a valuable resource for current and new Board members to refer to. Together these tasks have played a role in strengthening the Board’s foundation and improving the efficiency with which we work towards our organizational goals. The next exciting chapter of my Board placement is my participation in Forte’s current strategic planning initiatives where we will evaluate where the organization currently is, where we strive for the organization to be, and what will be required to get there. There are many exciting adventures on the horizon for Forte and I feel blessed to be a part of the Board that gets to create the road map that will assist Forte in reaching new levels. 

For more information on what Next Step is and how to get involved, visit our website at​​

The Orchestra Rocks: CPO Education Concerts energize and inspire​
April 25th, 2016
Contributed by Mary Rozsa de Coquet

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra offers a series of three different concert experiences for elementary school children. I attended the “Orchestra Rocks” concert on April 21st. The content for this concert was created through the Carnegie Link Up program, and was designed to have students sing or play the recorder from their seats in the audience. And, they did just that!

Held at the new Bella Concert Hall, groups from six different schools as well as home-schooled children, filled almost all the seats. Two thirds of these students had never attended a live orchestral concert. Greeted by an on-stage actor, they were introduced to the sections of the orchestra by one of the musicians. Then, the conductor came sprinting in to make the orchestra rock. At times accompanied by three excellent vocalists, or with three drummers setting the rhythm at the front of the stage, the orchestra offered many rousing, familiar tunes.

Overhead, the simple music was projected so that the students could play along. They also were able to choose where to put beat accents on the overhead score to which they subsequently clapped and stamped their feet. The Emcee was careful to explain the music in common day language and to draw the links between the classical repertoire and pop names and composers.  The projections also included pictures that underscored the mood of the music.

It was clear that the teachers had made good use of the curriculum guide and workbook which gave the students confidence to participate. However, it was really the experience of the live music that energized them. One lad must have conducted the entire program, waving his hands in the air as he tried to follow along with the actual conductor. Even the teachers sang along and clapped. There were clearly no discipline issues here.

As everyone spilled out of the hall, they were speaking with great animation and when asked how they liked the show, they chorused about how great the concert was and how much fun they had had.

Sponsoring an educational experience such as this is a privilege. And, for the school children, it is an opportunity they never will forget.


Next Step expands to Edmonton
February 9, 2016

Staff of the Rozsa Foundation spent a delightful Saturday (Feb 6) at the U of A, participating with Alberta School of Business students and recent grads in our first Edmonton edition of the Next Step program.

The Next Step program prepares and places Gen Y Alberta School of Business students and alumni on local arts boards and board committees, furthering the Foundation’s goals to bolster arts boards and organizational resiliency, and to strengthen leadership in arts management. Originally developed after joining forces with Calgary’s Haskayne Alumni Association and the provincial Board Development Program (BDP) at Alberta Culture and Tourism, the program captures talented and motivated graduates keen to meaningfully contribute to the arts community. The program has been met with great success in Calgary since 2012, and this workshop furthered that record of success.

With nineteen participants total, the Board Development Program Workshop was led by instructors Gary Marcellus and Bobbie O’Connor, both whose expertise and energy made for an engaging and highly informative day. Beginning with an introduction to Board Governance and working through topics such as Roles and Responsibilities, Policy Development, Managing Work, and much much more, the workshop was comprehensive and illuminating. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants.

“Gary & Bobbie's straightforward presentation of concepts such as policy development and roles and expectations of a board member was incredibly helpful and got me thinking about how to structure my thoughts and ideas if I do get the opportunity to sit on a not for profit arts board.”

- Brittany Bryce

“I found the day very informative and am excited to hear about upcoming opportunities in the arts community.”

- Katie Turner


“I am very excited about the opportunity of potentially joining a board. … I really enjoyed the session on Saturday.”

- Lindsay Cox 

We now enter the wonderful phase of playing matchmaker between Next Step participants and arts boards in Calgary and Edmonton, aligning the passions and interests of young business minds with vibrant arts organizations. Watching new, mutually beneficial relationships between business and the arts blossom is truly a joy, and furthers the Rozsa Foundation’s vision of strengthening organizational resilience in the arts.

We are also very pleased to share that one of our Next Step participants, Daniel Roth, has been placed into a Board Internship with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, facilitated by the U of A as an extension of the Next Step program. Big congratulations to Daniel!

Click here for information about our Next Step program.