Dusk Dances – Toronto-based nonprofit that makes high-quality dance accessible to the communititesy

Italic text from the groups site
What is Dusk Dances?

Dusk Dances is an outdoor dance festival that brings high quality contemporary and traditional dance to public parks. As dusk descends, a theatrical host leads the audience – which invariably includes children, dog walkers and local residents – to eclectic dance pieces that unfold in different areas of the park.

Choreographers from various backgrounds are invited to perform a ten-minute piece inspired by the park’s natural environment. Audiences are invited on a pay-what-you-can basis to an innovative site-specific festival, which is not only an artistic event but a social and cultural one as well. 2016 will be Dusk Dances’ 22nd season.

Stepping up for dance: despite a tight deadline and an even tighter budget, a Toronto firm helps put a local dance company on solid footing
Communication World. 28.4 (July-August 2011): p40.
Full Text:

Dusk Dances is a Toronto-based nonprofit that makes high-quality dance accessible to the community by staging performances in public parks. Critically acclaimed for its array of traditional and contemporary styles, Dusk Dances works with choreographers, community agencies and youth groups to nurture and promote local talent, including dancers from low-income and ethnic minority communities.

Despite its stellar reputation, Dusk Dances has performed in grassroots obscurity for much of its 16-year history. Until recently, this had not hampered its progress. By focusing promotional efforts on the neighborhoods around the three to five parks where it typically held performances each year, Dusk Dances was able to draw local audiences and fulfill its social mandate. However, in 2009, its two leading funders, the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils, told the group that it must diversify its sources of funding. To continue to thrive, Dusk Dances needed to increase its private sector revenue.

To build recognition of Dusk Dances as more than just a neighborhood show, d’na created a complete summer festival program that showcased all seven events. This was the first time that Dusk Dances had marketed its performances together in one brochure. Not only did this communicate the breadth of the growing festival, but it also cross-promoted the shows in each community. In addition, d’na introduced brand consistency across all materials. In the past, each brochure had its own cover photograph and look. While preserving local content, d’na crafted materials with the same dynamic cover image, the same call to action (“Take the Plunge”) and the same newly designed Dusk Dances header. The Dusk Dances brand was no longer fragmented: Whether a festival performance took place in an urban area or a rural one, in a well-to-do neighborhood or a poor one, the new brand identity united them as part of Dusk Dances’ inclusive vision.

For Dusk Dances’ business goals to be achieved, d’na felt it was essential to elevate the group brand status without losing its local flexibility and grassroots charm. Though it was outside the scope of the project, d’na modified the organization’s existing logo to give it more impact. Copy blocks were written for all materials promoting the group’s status as a nonprofit and inviting public support. In low-income communities where Dusk Dances ran community development programs, brochures featuring neighborhood dancers doubled as cost-effective promotional posters. In the two new licensing sites, branded templates for posters, postcards and print ads made room for local content and sponsor recognition. In Withrow Park, newly branded posters and hand-delivered postcards targeted this more affluent community, resulting in media attention and audience numbers that exceeded Dusk Dances’ highest expectations.

Measurement and evaluation

The rejuvenated brand and 2010 festival materials were all completed within the two-month time frame. To meet budgetary constraints, d’na made 70 percent of its fee pro bono, and designed volunteer T-shirts, a fundraising e-blast and the updated logo free of charge. Working with a print broker, d’na also reduced Dusk Dances’ printing costs by 30 percent. This allowed the branding to have a much bigger impact in its first year rollout, delivering the following results:

* Unprecedented print, radio, television and electronic media coverage, including previews and reviews in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life and the Vancouver Sun and on CBC Radio, RadioCanada and–for the first time in years–Global News and CTV News. The only difference in outreach between 2010 and previous years was the new materials.

* Record turnout at the Withrow Park festival. Audience numbers rose by almost 60 percent over 2009 levels to 3,850 people, while on-site contributions increased by 56 percent to CDN$11,314–both well above the 20 percent goal. Dusk Dances also experienced a 25 percent growth in attendance at its Vancouver performance.

* Highly successful launch of the two licensing sites: Dusk Dances Haliburton attracted 1,590 people and CDN$5,161 in on-site donations. Dusk Dances Flesherton drew 740 people and CDN$2,604–in a town of only 700 people! Both licensees have renewed for 2011, and two new sites (Ottawa, and Fredericton, New Brunswick) have come on board.

* A direct mailer and e-blast designed by d’na helped Dusk Dances achieve its holiday fundraising goal of CDN$4,500, double the direct-response contributions of 2009.

Maria Papadakis is managing partner of d’na (dakis & associates), a design and advertising consultancy in Toronto, {deletethisline}

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)

Papadakis, Maria. “Stepping up for dance: despite a tight deadline and an even tighter budget, a Toronto firm helps put a local dance company on solid footing.” Communication World, July-Aug. 2011, p. 40+. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tplmain&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA260139365&it=r&asid=660835babc0f8b1552f402ca64b644db. Accessed 13 Jan. 201

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