CharPR Prize, 2012
The Charlebois Post is in a unique position in the Canadian cultural landscape. First, we are small, so there are only about five of us who have direct contact with publicists at the various companies we deal with. Secondly, with reviewers in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Quebec City, we are in almost continual contact with companies large and small, and because we publish articles about and from many companies outside of those centres, we have a fairly large reach. This is why we decided to create the CharPR Prize (pronounced Sharper), a national prize to recognize the people in the trenches between artists and public (including the press).
We chose the winners (and nominees) by simply asking our contributors which public relations departments had made their lives easier and, even, gone beyond the call of duty. Although we will be giving two prizes to individuals - BEST PR/SINGLE SHOW and LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT - we are nominating the companies themselves because, in some cases, they have used outside firms - but the efficiency of these firms, we feel, comes from directives and attention paid from within the companies themselves.
The Charlebois Post, ltd. would like to congratulate and, especially, thank all the magnificent PR people across the country who have made the two years we have been publishing a glorious experience.
WINNERS IN BOLDFACE
Cylla von Tiedemann (Photographer, Toronto)
We have been aware of Ms von Tiedemann's work since her early days in the festival and Toronto theatres, seeing her magnificent photos in programs for Stratford (as far back as Robin Phillips artistic directorship). Ms von Tiedemann continues to distinguish herself. If you look at the finalists and runners-up for our photos of the year (on the CharPo sites in the last week), you will see many were created by this magician of light.
BEST PR: Single Production
Sue Edworthy, Proud (Toronto)
There was huge national interest in Michael Healey's show, Proud, this last year. Healey had had a well-publicized run-in with Tarragon Theatre and his play, a satire on the PM's Office, was in the glaring headlines. It takes a special publicist to wrangle that kind of attention and turn an independently produced show into a talked-about hit. Edworthy did her artistic accomplices, and theatre-goers, Proud.
Cylla von Tiedemann
It was probably our last Picture of the Week for 2012 that may have clinched our decision about Mr. Cooper. Indeed, all of his work for Arts Club in Vancouver stands apart - whether it be performance shot or promotional shot. He has also provided exceptional photos for the Shaw Festival and Manitoba Theatre Centre and one photo from last year was named our Picture of The Year. His eye is unerring.
*Best PR - Indie (no fixed venue):
Brave New Productions (Montreal)
WYRD Productions (Toronto)
*The winner in this category will receive a photo link from our site to theirs for the two weeks prior to their next production and during its entire run. The link will be from both our CharPo-Canada site and the appropriate regional site. The link will appear on every page of the site, at the top corner of the page.
Against the Grain Theatre (Toronto)
If we are talking about a company that goes above and beyond the call of duty, AtG is that company. From the start of The Charlebois Post they have been available with first-person pieces, they know how to use Twitter and they actively court - via new media - precisely what opera needs: a young audience. It must be said, however, they have a terrific leader in Joel Ivany who - in his AtG career and out of it - is indefatigable.
Best PR - small:
La Licorne (Montreal)
Factory Theatre (Toronto)
Of all the companies' publicists we honour this year, no group of people has been through a worse year than the publicists at Factory. Through a devastating summer, they handled media (especially small media) with elegance and restraint. Before the crisis, however, Factory was also most avid in getting the message out there. They were easy to deal with and explained to resident artists the merits of working with The Charlebois Post.
Best PR - Medium (multiple venues and mainstage of 400 seats+):
Segal Centre (Montreal)
Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg)
Arts Club Theatre (Vancouver)
If there is one lesson Arts Club can teach the country it is to have readily available images prepared for media discussion of a work well before that work hits the boards. If only for that (and their complicity with the aforementioned David Cooper) they deserve recognition. But they also have learned where other houses have failed: PR is changing - think beyond print.
Best PR - Large (Mainstage 800+ seats):
Stratford Festival (Stratford)
Canadian Stage (Toronto)
Canadian Opera Company (Toronto)
The Charlebois Post will always value the well-oiled machine that is a big companies PR department. But there are few places where that machine is more human than at the COC. Quite simply, they want people to come to the opera - no matter how forbidding some of the works COC presents can be. To that end, COC has podcasts, videos, readily available photos, an active Twitter feed and - do not underestimate this - a boss, Alexander Neef, also on Twitter who presents a persona that is approachable and genuine.