Toronto Performing Arts School Gets Down And Digital In Response to COVID-19 (NO LANG SEL)
The School of Performing Arts for the Community of East York, or The S.P.A.C.E, is a centre in Toronto, Ontario dedicated to building self-esteem, inspiring creativity, and challenging students to persevere and believe in themselves onstage. Since 2004, The S.P.A.C.E has been a place where students can learn acting, dance, and singing in a warm and supportive environment; influential experiences that can attribute their success to Owner and Artistic Director Linette Doherty and her remarkable staff.
Recently however, COVID-19 has taken its toll on the business, keeping their doors closed for almost five months and keeping the artistic community from gathering together in the process.
“Every other year, we mount a full scale musical as our year end show in June ” said Linette. “This year, our show has been indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all classes have moved online while our studio is mandated closed.”
To host all classes and trial events online is less than ideal, and the classes the studio typically offers to children, teens, and adults have had to adapt to these changes as a result. Unfortunately, not only has teaching become a challenge because of the mandatory digital shift, so have other aspects of business operation. While Linette had a website of her own, she wanted to ensure aspects of her business like online payments were secure so her clients would feel safe and comfortable during this transition.
So, Linette did her research and got involved with Digital Main Street's ShopHERE Program Powered By Google for a little extra support. More importantly, the help she received in the program helped her offer a contactless and secure method of connecting to her clientele.
“The ShopHERE team that I worked with has been incredible. From going the extra mile to include more than the standard three items on our site to being available even after our sessions finished for questions that pop up along the way, they have been super helpful and available” Linette said when asked about her experience.“It’s time consuming to input all information for all the different types of classes, so having someone to help made a big difference.”
Despite the circumstances, Linette continues to evolve and adapt to the changes her business faces. In fact, her outlook as an artist and entrepreneur has helped lay the foundation for clever planning and positive advice:
“As artists, we are used to having to be innovative in order to survive, and we need creativity and innovation to survive right now. Since we couldn't have blocking rehearsals, I assigned each student a stuffed animal and created a series of videos to show them all the blocking in the scenes. It's kind of like a weird stop motion animation production of Newsies!”
Linette and her business prove that when determination and creativity are combined with the right technical help, brilliant things can happen. It’s important now more than ever to support small and local businesses, so if you or someone you know is interested in getting started, check out the ShopHERE program for more information. Also, be sure to check out Linette’s website here, and learn more about how to stay creative and inspired.