At the PACT conference of 2012, at the very beginnings of what would later become known as the Dialogue on Theatre (a series of round tables on the state of theatre in Canada), a number of people sat around a table simply called Heart. We talked about isolation, about how most of us feel isolated, even those in the big cities. We talked about how we don’t really know each other or each other’s work. We talked about how we need to connect better and more frequently if we’re going to support each other. At that time, then-PACT President Eric Coates made a half-joking remark that was actually incredibly apt. He talked about “the red phone” – a hotline for Artistic Directors, Artistic Producers and General Managers when they need it most.
Fast forward to PACTcon2013. Sitting in the lobby of the beautiful Belfry Theatre, we were still talking about HOW do we connect, how do we communicate with each other? We identified a desire to know more about each other for the purposes of finding artistic collaborators, but also to nurture our national network.
Out of this desire to connect, a small task force was born. Comprised of Jay Dodge, Courtney Dobbie and Samantha MacDonald, this task force undertook the first steps towards connecting the dots (WE are the dots!). Over the course of the following season, participants had three artistic conversations with three other theatre practitioners.
Although it began as an initiative for senior leadership staff, nowadays the Red Phone is open to anyone at a PACT member theatre interested in having an artistic conversation. In short, it offers an opportunity to connect.
Since its first year in 2013 the Red Phone has connected 225 individuals for over 319 one-on-one calls.