Jennifer Mackie and Lynda Murray on Transforming Guelph Dance

Becoming Guelph Dance after being the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival for so long felt like a logical, straight-forward, and relatively easy transition—after all, we’d already expanded beyond the annual 4-day Festival to include all the elements now under the umbrella of Guelph Dance: our Training, Camps, Productions, In Schools workshops, and of course, the Festival. “Guelph Dance” as a brand was more inclusive and, frankly, way easier to say!
But, of course, change is never so easy. And this transformation involved the insight and direction of many, many people behind-the-scenes, including the formidable talents of strategic consultants Jennifer Mackie of Arrowood Consulting and Lynda Murray of Murray Marketing. We asked Jennifer and Lynda to weigh in on what went into the year-long preparation for this event.
Why is Guelph Dance important to Guelph and its community?
Jennifer: “Guelph Dance is a huge contributor to the performing arts segment. It’s great to be able to see the caliber of dance they provide during their annual festival. Guelph has a strong arts identity in the community with emphasis on music and visual arts. For very young dance students, they provide a future dream; for seasoned students and those at university, they provide an opportunity to continue with their enjoyment of dance whether actively dancing or being in the audience; for the career dancer, they also provide training or occasions to present.”
Lynda: Guelph Dance is “an extraordinary ‘stage’ for talented performers from across Canada to converge…[building] on our reputation for innovation and leadership in the performing arts forum.”
Why do you think the change from GCDF to Guelph Dance is so timely?
Lynda: “The organization has grown and evolved over the years and it’s time for the identity to be more reflective. The positioning is more current, expressive and all-inclusive, more adaptable to current social applications and everyday conversations.”
Jennifer: “Achieving the 15-year anniversary milestone is huge for any organization, especially in the performing arts—a branding review with obvious changes can safely happen to this mature and evolving organization. Changing the name speaks to what matters currently and captures how GCDF has evolved.” Jennifer adds, “What’s so interesting is that folks have been calling GCDF ‘Guelph Dance’ for brevity, so it makes great sense to move to this name.”
What role did you play in the change?
Jennifer: “I have provided strategic planning, organization design and board development support for GCDF since 2005. As Arrowood Consulting, we provided project management for the re-branding project, which included process work with staff and the board to revise their Mission, Vision and Mandate statements, [as well as] procurement of a marketing consultant and organizational design work with the General Manager [Catrina von Radecki].
Lynda: “Unleashing the true essence of the brand through both a discovery and strategic process” which she says “brought us to the Guelph Dance platform.” Lynda was an “objective partner” who “pushed the process to ensure all stakeholders were cared for, business objectives were met, and overall outcome was aligned with a strategic vision of the organization.”
Where would you like to see the city and Guelph Dance in the future?
Jennifer: “Because of the organizational strength within Guelph Dance, I would like to see them provide more visible leadership to the Guelph community at large, which continues to build its reputation as a festival and arts event destination. The culture of Guelph Dance is a wonderful fit and model for the arts community in Guelph and thus they can be a catalyst to how our culture evolves.”
Lynda: “There is such an overwhelming opportunity for Guelph to expand and further nurture its reputation as a leader and innovator in the arts and cultural sphere with the repertoire of talent and the national recognition that Guelph Dance has received on the national stage. It’s a natural collaboration and extension.”

Any final words about Guelph Dance as an organization?
Jennifer: “I continue to be impressed by all the staff, board and volunteers of this small organization. I love their energy, insight, commitment to professionalism, passion for contemporary dance, openness to learning and changing to assist the evolving nature of their program and offerings. They are a delight to be creative with and always follow up with what they say they intend to do. It also amazes me how they juggle many balls at once and fluidly and almost effortlessly incorporate work, home life and community engagement.”
Lynda says that she is relatively new to Guelph Dance, but “was quickly taken in by the passion and conviction of the organization to ‘push boundaries’ on all levels.” She adds that she was impressed with the organization’s “business strategy, diversified programming, community engagement, and the need and desire to continue to grow and evolve.”
Guelph Dance thanks Jennifer and Lynda for all their efforts and support!

Jennifer Mackie

Jennifer Mackie, MBA, is a high-energy, quick-start Organization Consultant. Her highly collaborative approach to initiating, planning and delivering results is not only successful, but impressive to clients. Jennifer’s “can do” attitude is infectious and she inspires to embrace change. Her industry experience includes, healthcare, professional services, agriculture, insurance, technology, property development, financial services, education, not-for-profit organizations and board/executive environments.

Lynda Murray

Lynda Murray has extensive experience in building diverse and powerful brands, from the revitalization of a publicly traded snack food company to the refocusing of the green branding and sustainability for an environmental organization to the transformation of a national retailer. As a seasoned marketing communications strategist with over 20+ years of experience, Lynda brings a unique combination of business acumen, agency experience and proven leadership. She is recognized as an innovative visionary with an energetic and passionate management style that evokes engagement and delivers results.

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