Popular, world music and art services organizations officer at the Ontario Arts Council
My current job entails managing granting programs and some work in policy creation, as well as contributing to the overall policy direction of the OAC.
I have a bachelor of music from McGill and I did an MBA at York University’s Schulich School of Business with a specialization in arts and media.
When I lived in Montreal, I was in a band called Atomic Brothers and a reggae band called Equalizer. At the time, the music industry model was changing and I wanted to know more about how music would be supported in the future.
At York, the whole non-profit thing took me by storm. I thought I was going to learn about the music business, but when I got there every other type of business was so dominant: finance, consulting, real estate. So it was in the non-profit stream that I found people and ways of doing things that were in line with my values. In essence, it pushed me out of working in traditional industry. I’ve never worked for a record label.
I always tell people you have to be prepared for that culture. If you’ve never been in a corporate culture before, the MBA program does a really good job of simulating that.
One course in particular, cultural policy with Joyce Zemans, gave me the ins and outs of policy and the players involved at all three levels of government. From there, I saw the potential for the non-profit sector to support not only music but culture in general. Ironically, I did an MBA to learn about the nonprofit sector. Of course I also learned general skills: accounting, finance and statistics.
I had a moment when I realized how slowly change happens. It’s not a bureaucracy thing; it’s realizing how many people have a stake in what you’re doing. It’s the fact that many, many years of politics have come before, and if you want to do anything, you have to account for all of it.
Institutional memory is getting longer, so if I want to make a music policy, I have to think about its impact on folks who entered the industry 30 years ago as much as people who entered it five years ago and people who will enter it five years from now.
The MBA program prepared me for that reality; I find that I know the context we’re working in at the OAC much better than others. I know what happened to the OAC in the 90s, what people have tried to do policy-wise and the history of funding music at the Canada Council and FACTOR.
People who have a broad range of skills looking to bridge the worlds of the practitioner and the policy-maker will excel at this job. I interact with artists, some bureaucrats and people in business. A business degree is good for those into numbers and political philosophy but who don’t want to be researchers.
If you are the type of person who likes to focus on one thing, this isn’t the job for you. You aren’t doing the same thing every day. Rather, you get different snapshots each day.