Generator has transformed into a mentoring, teaching, and innovation incubator that empowers independent artists, producers and leaders.
Our History and Transformation:
For the past two decades, Generator has played an important role in assisting artists to develop the means to create and produce work. When Generator was founded as STAF in the fall of 1992 (around the same time the Blue Jays won their first World Series), it was created to make administration more affordable.
Much has changed in the intervening years as the independent theatre movement has exploded: The number of Fringe, Next Stage and SummerWorks applications increases annually, and the number of independent-category TAPA Members continues to see significant growth. The supply of resources to create this work continues to outstrip demand.
Cumulatively, this has led to more artists, creating more work, with fewer formal tools. In this environment of entrepreneurship, Generator has become an incubator for the creators who shape the future of performance in Toronto.
This current wave of artists runs lean operations that are often project-based. Without a subscriber base, they make work they hope will connect with new, frequently younger and more diverse audiences. They require a specific set of tools for a set period of time, without being saddled with the demands of a large organizational structure.
To play a key role in a sustainable independent performance sector driven by self-producing artists.
"Generator and The Riser Project: Sector developers for independent theatre in Toronto" - Research and Evaluation Study
Commissioned by Toronto Arts Foundation with support from the Metcalf Foundation and Toronto Arts Council, Generator was part of a two and a half year research and evaluation study. Released on Nov 9, 2017, the report takes a look at two change initiatives in the performing arts sector, Generator and Why Not Theatre's The Riser Project. Both ventures have emerged from the theatre community to devise new ways to support independent artists in today’s context of precarity and limited resources.
We are creative people with active creative practices. Creativity and collaboration are ingrained in all of our systems and programs. We promote artistic entrepreneurship at all fronts and foster that growth with the artists we work with.
We are investing in creating a common cause: a web of individuals in our programs that collectively ensures all those within it are living the lives in the arts they want to have, and are working together to create a sector we are proud of. More than just networking, we are offering a sense of community that lends thoughtfulness and resources.
We are a learning-based organization. We believe in sideways learning, finding sources of knowledge all around us and in each other. We approach knowledge with curiosity and we listen in order to understand. We strive to share and propagate good information that is current, responsive, and clear. In all our learning, we work toward skill development and practical application, underpinned by theory.
We are highly motivated, tenacious people, that expect a lot of ourselves and the artists we work with. We feel a great sense of duty to the artists in our programs and know that they have high expectations of us. We believe in setting our sights on a goal, making a commitment to it and working to ensure the quality of the work brings us pride and joy. We do what is needed to achieve these goals and use the resources (human, time, cash, and otherwise) afforded to us effectively and with care. We use recognition and critical feedback to support each other in finding our learning edge and identifying creative solutions.
Solution-Focused and Iterative
We move from problem to solution through iterative and responsive systems that constantly change based on new information from the individuals within them and the sector around us. Our systems are predicated on people taking risks, sharing failures and successes and using them as a jumping-off point for the next risk. Knowledge and insight we gain are shared widely. Solutions aim to be highly responsive to immediate needs while also laying the foundation for future goals and problem solving.
Generator creates singular programs that are responsive to the needs of the artist through Individualized, rather than standardized; this includes one-on-one, or small team-focused interactions. This human connection is central to how we interact with our participants. We recognize that it takes time and patience to meet humans where they are, and all our programs have this built into their resource structure.
We take the time to recognize the accomplishments, big and small, of the individuals in our programs and work spaces. Much of the work that goes into producing is silent and invisible outside our community and we believe it is worth honouring. We appreciate and value our colleagues and we make an effort to vocalize that.
Workplace Culture Statement
Generator is a highly collaborative, team-based workplace. The Generator staff share space with several other collectives and organizations through our Resident Company and Company Collaborator programs. We work in an open space environment where we often pause our work to come together to ask for support, collaborate, discuss current events, or watch a YouTube video. This fun and thoughtful environment drives our efforts to make a positive impact on the performance sector and the lives of artists. Generator staff work on a flexible schedule to accommodate the needs of our programs and our external passions. We support each other in achieving work/work/life balance and workdays that support our lives outside of work. We encourage staff to have active, creative, passionate lives in addition to their work here as we know this fuels Generator. As an organization committed to learning and well-being, we offer a Wellness Fund, paid vacation, and Professional Development Fund to all staff.
Who we serve (What we mean when we say independent performance community)
At Generator we understand that the term independent theatre or independant performance community is confusing. What is independent, anyway? For us, the independent performance sector looks something like this:
Independent artists working in performance
1-2 projects a year (this could be performances or workshops)
If working as a collective or organization:
If government-funded, likely on project-based funding or one level of government on operating/composite funding
Small budget for annual operating costs like rent, storage, etc.
0-3 staff or year-round contractors
Independent performance collectives or companies that tend to work in our office would generally describe themselves as scrappy, resilient, lean, and hustle oriented. Their work tends to have an equity-seeking focus and to be political, timely and imaginative.
Board of Directors
- Elenna Mosoff, President (Founder and CEO of The Mission Business Inc.)
- Peter Sevitt, Treasurer (Accountant)
- Quinn Harris, Secretary (Lawyer)
- Karl M. Druckman, Director (Lawyer)
- Claire Burns, Director (Arts Administrator/Artist)
- Kevin Matthew Wong, Director (Arts Administrator/Artist)
- Julie Tepperman, Past President (Co-Artistic Director of Convergence Theatre)
- Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Past Director (Actor/Theatre Creator, 2015 Dora Nominee)
- Samuel Mann, Past Director (Project Manager)
- Bill Greenhalgh, Past Director (President and CEO, Stratx Inc)
- Gideon Arthurs, Past President (CEO, National Theatre School)
- Leah-Simone Bowen, Past Director (Artistic Producer, Obsidian Theatre)
- Barry Joslin, Past Director (Consultant, Organizational Leadership)