City Living: Best Arts Programmes

We love attending as many events around the city as possible, but a busy social calendar can be a strain on the wallet. That’s why we take advantage of the amazing discount ticket programs that many arts organizations in our fair city offer patrons under 30 years old. Over 30? Find your youngest friend/cousin/colleague and tag along as his or her companion. Several of these organizations will give you the deal, too.

Opera for a New Age

COC’s Tosca
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The Canadian Opera Company reserves 150 seats at each performance for its Opera for a New Age program. If you’re 29 or under, tickets to each performance are only $22. If your companion is over 30, this program allows you to purchase a ticket for him or her as well, regardless of age. Tickets for the spring calendar, featuring The Tales of Hoffman, A Florentine Tragedy / Gianni Schicchi and Semele, go on sale March 31. Don’t wait too long, because the discounted tickets sell quickly.


The Game of Love and Chance
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$12.50 will buy you a ticket to see live theatre, courtesy of Canadian Stage’s C-Stage program. Tickets are available to purchase two weeks before the performance, and you must be a registered member of the C-Stage program to take advantage (registering is free). Your companion must also be under 30 to qualify for a discounted ticket. Tickets to Dark Matters are currently on sale, while The Game of Love and Chance goes on sale April 1.


The Sleeping Beauty 
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The National Ballet of Canada offers its DanceBreak program for people 16 to 29 years old. Join the free membership program, and you are eligible to purchase $30 tickets on the day of the performance. Over 29? You can still find affordable tickets through the Rush Tickets program. Beginning at 11 a.m. on the day of an eligible performance, tickets are available for $35 each at the box office. We’re especially excited about The Sleeping Beauty, running March 10 to 18.


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The Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers $14 tickets for patrons under 35 through the tsosoundcheck program. Spend an evening listening to live classical music by great composers like Brahms and Beethoven, or experience more modern fare with the Pops series. Tickets typically go on sale a week before the performance, so check the website for upcoming concerts. Subscription packages for the 2012/2013 schedule are on sale, with tickets as low as three concerts for $66. We already have our eye on West Side Story with Orchestra in May 2013, a screening of the movie accompanied by a live performance of the musical score.


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Have you fallen in love with the arts through these programs? We thought so. Now get your arts fix with Opera Atelier’s Operatix program. Opera Atelier performances are a unique blend of theatre, opera and ballet, and people under 30 may purchase discounted tickets to any performance for $20. The next show is Armide, playing April 14 to 21.

We’re Not Just Pretty: Laura Quinn

As senior manager of public relations with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Laura Quinn manages the media relations and corporate communications efforts at one of Canada’s major cultural institutions.

She has worked in public relations for 10 years, starting as a temp with the publicity and promotions team at Alliance Atlantis Film Distribution, and leaving six years later as the publicity and promotions manager.
She has executed promotional campaigns for theatrical releases across Canada, run press days at seven Toronto International Film Festivals, and handled media relations for many film openings. After a séjour living in Paris, France, Quinn returned to Toronto and managed PR campaigns for Kiehl’s and the CONTACT Photography Festival through her work with a Toronto PR agency, and led public affairs for broadcaster TELETOON.

Twitter: @LQLauraQuinn
How long have you been in your current position?
I’m in my third season with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

How does your company leverage PR?
What’s really interesting to me is that as much as the TSO is about music making, we are also about audience making. In that sense, each department in our organization is leveraging PR every day – from customer service making sure patrons have a fantastic experience, to our development team engaging supporters, to our artistic team producing incredible concerts that have the world’s best artists thrilled to perform in Toronto with our orchestra, and our education team communicating with schools and young audiences to spark music lovers of the future. At every concert, each of the dedicated musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform their best to create exceptional and inspiring concert experiences – and that, really, is the best PR ever.

The PR team at the TSO works to make sure each part of the organization has what it needs to communicate with its audience and help support spokespeople. We work specifically with media for reviews and advance coverage, and we create collateral (we produce 18 unique house programmes each season among other communication vehicles) to help tell the TSO’s stories.

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
A positive attitude; someone who believes in approaching life with creative solutions. I also look for an instinct for storytelling and a passion for connecting influencers. You’ve got to be smart, quick, organized and polite.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
My first boss at Alliance Films, Susan Smythe-Bishop, was a real mentor for me. She gave me the opportunities for the experience that led me to where I am today. I feel very fortunate that I was able to learn from her. She is creative, thoughtful and leads by example with lots of class and heart.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows?
I watch Sex and the City and see Samantha and think “Man, PR people are lame.” Then I look around at my peers and realize that we are nothing like these caricatures. Honestly, if you want a good gab with some smart, hilarious and thoughtful people, hang with some of Toronto’s fantastic PR pros.

I don’t pay much mind to the fictional accounts on television. I don’t think doctors get too hung up about the actors on Grey’s Anatomy either.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
LISTEN. In PR, we spend a lot of time talking, but the most valuable moments in my work come from listening, I want to know what our artists are saying, what media are saying, and how we can help continue the conversation. And general career advice: do what you love and it will all fall into place.

What do you love most about your job?
What I love about PR is how democratic it is. All you need is a great idea and you can help support something, big or small, through your promotional efforts. I really believe in what we do at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and am proud to put my efforts around supporting the organization.

I also love that PR is about people and relationships. I really like people; they are different, they are wacky, they are inspiring, they are challenging and it’s our role to engage them all.

Every day I am inspired and motivated by TSO musicians and their performances. It’s a real luxury that I can take a break in my day to sit in on rehearsal to experience fantastic live music.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer: ALL-CANADIAN-ALL-THE-TIME, comrags, mercy, dace.
Store: 4 Life Natural Foods in Kensington Market
Book:  All-time fave is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Right now it’s Stunt by Claudia Dey.
Snack: Chocolate covered almonds.
Season: Spring!
Sexy: Effortless.
Inspiration: Is everywhere.
Drink: Tea, water and on winter evenings, warm, spiced rum.
Motto in two words: OWN IT (not in the consumer sense, but rather in the passion sense).
Idea of perfect happiness: France with my fiancé during soldes season.
Indulgence: I get my eyebrows done by Tarah at Civello on Queen Sreet West.
Celebrity crush: Gwyneth Paltrow.
Favourite tweeter to follow: @torontosymphony