Centre for Indigenous Theatre

“We are Indigenous lead for Indigenous students. Training at CIT is facilitated by faculty and masters drawn from diverse Indigenous & western instruction and practices.”

It was a big summer, that’s for sure.

The summer of 2019, I embarked on new Personal and Professional journeys. The Personal began at nearly the same time as the Professional, as these things often do. The Personal journey a change in my ideas and practices around my physical wellness (i.e. getting more physically active). While the Professional journey I started upon was as the newly minted Marketing & Communications Manager for The Centre for Indigenous Theatre (CIT), a job with no small amount of work ahead. CIT is modestly staffed school and had never had anyone dedicated to running their Marketing and Communications. Without any history or prior marketing methodology or practices in place, this role would also have a great opportunity to work more fluidly across disciplines in creating content. For instance, I would be able to not just conceive the creative, but also write copy, film, photograph, edit, animate, develop, design digital and print products. As well as making ad buys, structuring the targeting, distribution and rollouts. All the things I have been able to do to one degree or another in other campaigns, positions and projects, but in a less holistic way. Most of all though, fewer cooks in my kitchen 😉

“In 1974, James Buller founded the Native Theatre School on the belief that with a viable Aboriginal school, Aboriginal actors, playwrights and directors would have a respectful and supportive home for the community’s creative explorations and exchanges. Buller hoped that the four-week program would grow Aboriginal voices and the Aboriginal theatre community.
And today, James Buller’s dream is alive & well, and more significant than he could have imagined. Today, the Centre for Indigenous Theatre offers full-time three and four-year programs embracing the spirit, energy and inspiration derived from the culture, values and traditions of Indigenous people.”
(from the CIT About Page)

The project to undertake was CIT’s visual identity. CIT had a couple of different versions of a logo in use. One used gradients in the Medicine wheel that of course wouldn’t print well small; they just looked muddy. The other still had the gradients, but the wordmark was inline, and there was no stacked version of the logo either. I have always found, when unwarranted, two versions of a logo is problematic. I am not a fan of having to work with two different styles of a logo unless necessary.

With my aesthetic bias, plus the work I put into industry bench-marking similar organizations and schools top of mind, I re-worked the logo. I looked at the digital presence of varied Universities, and Performing & Theatre Arts Schools. I looked at local, national, public and private Theatre & Performance companies. I looked at art galleries, charities and not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous advocacy sites. I studied for common aesthetic or messaging themes, as well as each sites outlying invitations and obstacles, considering the positives and negatives of each. I saw a repeated obstacle for the majority of the sites and brands. The arts and Indigenous communities are severely under-resourced and struggle to maintain consistency in their communications and marketing materials. Being so under-resourced limits opportunities to create content or grow their identities. CIT shares in this challenge, despite being a creative training institution, they had a definite void in being able to generate new content or work with their existing content.

So, how do you “do more with less?”

Print & Digital Marketing Products
Creative Direction, Art Direction and Design

I think the answer to that question is about as simple and straightforward as it gets.

You don’t do more with less.

You do the best you can with what you have available and find creative ways to work with any environmental, technical, fiscal or personal limitations there are.

With that said, CIT is equipped to make a much broader and unique imprint socially and culturally. Their marketing work to date has been piecemeal. Mostly put together by contract or freelance workers, so they haven’t had the time, resource of staff to help further develop the CIT brand and identity.

My early work has been to take the standards I’ve put together and start applying them across basic print and digital marketing collateral. While undertaking the graphic design work, I developed, shot & edited the recruitment Explainer video, and began working on a new website.

"Tell your stories, in your voice"
Writing, Direction, Videography, Editing and Motion GFX
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The Emboldened and Inspired Voices of Tomorrow
Short edit one (Captioned)
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You will come here to train, to learn and to grow
Short edit two (Captioned)
Play Video

CIT’s previous website a free page hosted on Weebly, a plug’n’play page building and hosting platform that is very easy to use, but also very limiting in terms of potential network platform integration. For instance, the Weebly platform couldn’t connect and display content from Flickr and was limited in how it embedded videos.

I pitched a new WordPress build and hosting with Dreamhost, using their dedicated WordPress hosting Dreampress. The idea was to give CIT a stable, secure and focused back-end platform on building a more reflexive and modular website, with better content integration and presentation.

Website Redesign
Writing, Editing, Design, Creative and Art Direction
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I began work on the new site, collecting photo video assets and went back to the well for my bench-marking and contrasting studies. Looking at what other organizations, schools, theatres, performance and arts groups were all doing in their website presentations. I was also focusing on their aesthetic ideologies and how they prioritized their information. A lot of the sites were text-heavy on their front pages, without a lot of dynamic or media-rich content, and that was the first place I wanted to differentiate CIT.

I did a deep dive into the photos CIT had, pulling several selects and then started doing basic colour-grading and cropping of the images. From there, working within the parameters of the style guide I had prepared, I started the basic layout of the pages and modules before beginning to add content.

The work going forward is going to be especially interesting because, for CIT, the work we are starting to do now is pretty new to them. Which is what makes this work challenging, but very, very rewarding. We’re not building a brand from the ground up, and CIT does have an existing audience. However, CIT’s potential growth was limited by a lack of resources and capacity and had not been able to steward the relationship as well. I am excited to see what we can do to grow CIT’s fundraising practices. Also, how we can start to communicate and promote the school, the shows and the students more broadly. And what the effects of this work will be in the long term.

Light Tipi with Circadia Indigena at SAW Gallery
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Introduction to Voice Presentation
Play Video