An Outstanding ArtsVest Partnership

Now in its tenth year, artsVest Ontario brings sponsorship training, mentorship and matching incentive funds to selected Ontario communities. In 2015, Kingston is one of those communities. As a recipient of some of these funds, Theatre Kingston is letting us know how they used the funding.

During this initiative, Theatre Kingston's strongest partnership was with a local accommodation, the Frontenac Club Inn. In an effort to provide our audiences with a unique theatrical experience, it was determined that we would produce a piece of site-specific theatre in our 2014-15 season. When we purchased the Toronto-based production of Elizabeth-Darcy: an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, we went on the hunt for a local exciting venue in which to present the piece. The Frontenac Club Inn, a Victorian-era mansion in downtown Kingston, was an ideal location for the play to take place - having been faithfully restored and updated by its owners, Susan Shaw and Beare Weatherup. 

Our team sat down with the owners, whose business can get quite slow in the winter months and worked out a partnership that would be mutually beneficial. In return for the use of the Frontenac Club Inn as a performance venue, Theatre Kingston would represent the Inn in all of its show marketing collaterals, including putting the Inn's signage at the centre of the promotional poster artwork. In addition, the primary angle of our publicity work would revolve around the venue, its charm, hospitable environment, and wonderful staff. The added bonus from the business' perspective was that 30 new guests/performance would be strolling through the animated venue. During the run of the show, the Inn staff baked cookies and served tea and coffee to the play's audience, answering questions about the rooms and taking small detours with people to show off some of the corners of the Inn that weren't covered by the show's track.

This project also brought out several other local businesses that wanted to take part in the partnership that we had built with the Frontenac Club Inn. Local fine-dining establishment Le Chien Noir, contacted the company to establish a dinner package with the production that proved more popular than any package we had ever offered. A local downtown bakery, Madigan's, offered scones and jam for our audiences that lingered at the Inn during our weekend matinee post-show talkbacks. And a new local brewery, Stone City Ales, in the midst of launching an English Ale, contacted the company about hosting a tasting at the Inn alongside the production. All of these incredible connections were spawned simply from that one agreement between an arts organization and a local business to work together.