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Notable Team of the Week: Bard on the Beach

It’s no secret that exceptional work stems from the power of collaboration. So in addition to featuring notable young professionals and entrepreneurs every single day, we’ll be chatting with some of Canada’s best teams every Thursday to get an inside look at how they combine talents to stand out in their industry. Today we’re talking to the Vancouver-based team behind Bard on the Beach, one of Western Canada’s largest Shakespeare festivals. 


1. Describe what you and your team focus on in less than 140 characters. Go.
We perform, explore and celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare through high-quality performances, community outreach, and education.

2. What kick ass projects/programs have you been working on recently?
We’re in the middle of redesigning our website with our current supplier, which is a huge and exciting undertaking. This past season we introduced a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System, and it completely improved the experience of buying tickets online. Now we need a website that matches what our CRM system can do and also reflects our complex festival.

3. What are some of the benefits of working on a team?
We all bring our own unique skill set to every project we work on, and those skills together create a kind of harmony. I’m constantly learning from the way my colleagues work and applying it to my own tasks. When we take risks, we take them together, and I can always count on the team to support me every step of the way.

4. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? 
The challenges are endless with a four-month festival in a park. Months of work go into planning the season, and at the end of the day, the biggest challenge can be something as simple as the weather. One summer, we were all celebrating a colleague’s birthday when a huge windstorm hit Vancouver. When your plays take place in large tents, wind is certainly not your friend. The phone lines and internet went down where our server was, so we went from brunch and mimosas to all hands on deck. It was a crazy few days getting things back in order, but it brought us together as a team.

5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals working within a team?
Be adaptable, never stop learning, and ask for help when you need it. Many of us have the perception that we need to be able do it all (and do it all ourselves), but our teammates are there to pick us up when we need it. If you succeed, the whole team succeeds, and vice versa.

6. Does your team have a designated leader?
The Bard team as a whole is led by our Artistic Director, Christopher Gaze, and our Executive Director, Claire Sakaki. They’re wonderful leaders who offer endless support and guidance.

7. Within your organization are teams switched up every once in a while or do they maintain the same? What are some of the benefits and cons of that?
Teams remain the same, though as an arts organization and not-for-profit, we’re often working together on projects. Sticking with the same team allows us to get to know each other both personally and professionally, which only strengthens our work. It also allows us to grow as a department, as we’re consistently working together to achieve the goals we set. On the flipside, you can get trapped in a bubble sometimes. It becomes easier to accept something as true when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. It’s nice to have fresh insights from other members of the organization to encourage you to think outside the box.

8. What does the word collaboration mean to you?
Putting aside differences of opinion to find a solution to a challenge or achieve a goal.

9. What has been you and your teams favorite project/campaign/initiative to work on and why?
Bard Education works tirelessly to bring Shakespeare to our community in different ways, and one of our favourite initiatives has been Bard in Your Neighbourhood. The program works with community partners to bring workshops to underserved children and youth at no cost, giving them the chance to play and understand Shakespeare. In past years we’ve worked with groups such as the Urban Native Youth Association and TREES Alternate School in Surrey. It’s inspiring to see how these young people engage with Shakespeare’s words, and we feel lucky to work with them.


1. Where is your team’s favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Last summer we discovered AnnaLena, which is not too far from our Festival site in Vanier Park. The food is incredible and the Bar Manager, Kevin, mixes magical drinks. It’s also open late, which makes it the perfect place to stop for dessert on the way home from the park.

2. Do you and your team go out together? Where and why?
When we can find the time! We moved our offices to Olympic Village about a year ago, so we’re still exploring the neighbourhood. We have a few local favourites like The Flying Pig, Craft Beer Market and Tap and Barrel. Going out together gives us a chance to bond and take a breather. Things are pretty non-stop most of the year, so it’s nice to celebrate our successes when we can.

3. What’s the best thing that has happened to you and your team recently?
One of the perks of switching to a new CRM system this year is that their head office is in London, England. Every year they host a huge conference at a theatre there, so a few of us made the trek this autumn to join them. It was so valuable to be in the same room as developers and support staff, making connections with people who we usually only speak to over the phone. We met with staff from London’s Globe Theatre, saw some theatre, and the whole trip sparked a ton of ideas that we brought back to the rest of our team.

4. Are there any other teams within your company or any company that you know of that are killing it?
We’ve been working with the digital team at Murray Paterson Marketing Group for a few seasons now, and I can’t think of a better group of people to work with. Laura Murray and Brian Paterson lead a brilliant group of intelligent and hardworking people. They also happen to be some of the nicest and most thoughtful people you’ll ever meet.

5. And finally, what does success look like to you and your team? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success to us is an environment in which we continue to support each other and grow, where we can challenge ourselves to be more innovative, but remain accessible, and share our unique story with as many people as will listen. We love what we do, and want to continue to push ourselves to be even better than the year before.

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Notable Life

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