Putting a New Bow on a Traditional Event to Increase Engagement
By Laura McCaffrey
‘Twas the night after Giving Tuesday and all through the ranks, Advancement staff were hustling to throw an event to give thanks…
Traditionally held on ‘Thank You Thursday’, the Thursday following Giving Tuesday, Carleton’s Donor Holiday Reception event acknowledges Carleton’s donors for their generosity and commitment.
“It has always been about saying ‘thank you’ to our donors for their contributions—not just on Giving Tuesday, but also throughout the entire year,” explains Christina Chénard, acting director of alumni and donor relations.
But with Giving Tuesday’s success capping off an extraordinary fundraising year, the 2019 celebratory event was expanded to include a new program component that would attract the broader community—giving Carleton a chance to thank its community stakeholders.
“Earlier this year, we had discussions with Petr Cancura, a Carleton alumni and performance instructor in the Department of Music at Carleton, about the possibility of hosting a community concert. Petr has been a big proponent of that idea for a while,” Chénard shares. “Petr is a fantastic musician and is the program director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, so we knew he’d be able to provide vision and programming support.
“We wanted this year’s event to be extra special and unique. That’s why we decided to hold it at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre (CDCC). An arts, culture and community hub in Ottawa, the CDCC seemed like the perfect location to engage the larger community and give them a chance to experience the beauty of this facility. Once we decided on the CDCC as the location, including a concert performed by our alumni just made sense.”
Fittingly, Carleton’s most successful Giving Tuesday ever was followed by its largest Holiday Reception turnout: between the donor-only pre-reception and the holiday concert, the CDCC was packed with over 950 attendees.
“What a great evening, and what a great venue: our new Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, president and vice-chancellor of Carleton University, during his welcome remarks at the concert.
“It is the perfect space to celebrate our accomplishments and to hear inspiring Carleton stories and wonderful music. It is thanks to our generous community that we’re able to gather here, and we are very grateful. This is the first time we’ve hosted our annual Holiday Reception here—and what a full house we have tonight!”
The concert featured several Carleton alumni who came together to share good—nay, great—music: Mackenzie and Ben Di Millo (known as MACK & BEN), Petr Cancura and Kellylee Evans.
In addition to the incredible musical talent, the attendees were graced with another artistic dynamo: hip hop artist, creative entrepreneur and former English Ottawa Poet Laureate Jamaal Jackson Rogers.
Playing the role of emcee for the evening, Jackson Rogers mirrored President Bacon’s sentiments about the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre.
“As a performer and arts educator, this place is close to my heart. Arts and culture are almost palpable within these walls. I’m so pleased that this is now a Carleton space—a place where a broader community can come to together to share and celebrate the arts.”
A partner and friend to Carleton University, Jackson Rogers aptly kicked off the concert with a spoken word poem about community and partnership.
As the evening drew to a close, there was one more surprise in store. This community-based event afforded President Bacon the perfect opportunity to announce Jackson Rogers’ appointment as incoming Artist-in-Residence at Carleton University for the winter 2020 term.
“We are thrilled to have Jamaal joining us next term,” says Kathy Armstrong, an instructor in the School for Studies in Art and Culture who was instrumental in securing Jackson Rogers as the next Artist-in-Residence.
“We are planning several initiatives during Jamaal’s term, which will undoubtedly benefit from his expertise, creativity and passion. These initiatives will include a special topics course entitled ‘Developing Your Own Voice: The Power of Music and Spoken Word,’ one or two Masterclasses, individual coaching with students and a concert with faculty at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in January.
“In addition to his musical prowess, Jamaal is a community leader. His values align closely with those of the university, and we’re looking forward to our students having a chance to learn from him.”