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Inclusivity, audience engagement, are main focuses of new strategic plan for Sudbury Performance Group

Pandemic highlights need for programming changes to maintain social responsibility

Since 2017, Sudbury Performance Group has provided Sudbury with a variety of arts and entertainment events to entertain the community and support the talented artists that live within it.

But like any organization, change is crucial to growth, and having new goals not only keeps them relevant, but also ensures they’re providing programming that enriches and enhances the Sudbury arts and entertainment scene.

Mark Mannisto, president and founder of Sudbury Performance Group (SPG), says going through the pandemic gave them time to think about how they could better their organization, and the result is a three-year strategic plan that outlines those goals and changes.

“We used the break to find ways to engage with our audiences and better build the structure of the organization in the areas of governance and operations, community engagement and programming,” he said.

Creating a strategic plan that accurately reflects society and the Greater Sudbury Community

Mannisto said the current climate of the world is vastly different than before the pandemic hit. So after listening to their audiences and supporters, they’ve realized they need to be more socially responsible and bring awareness by providing programming that aligns with that goal.

“Witnessing what has happened with the Black Lives Matter and Every Child Matters movements, we knew we needed to be responsible to ourselves and to our supporters in what it is we plan on doing and listen to what society is now saying,” he said.

And these changes will also be reflected in the programming they offer. For example, Mannisto said there are some shows they’ve decided they will no longer stage to ensure they are being respectful and socially responsible. One of these is a show called Avenue Q, a production they had on their schedule, but have since decided to replace. Mannisto said, it’s not the most politically correct show as it pokes fun at race, religion and sexual orientation, and while it’s not written in a negative way, he feels it’s currently inappropriate to stage.

“In the current social landscape, it’s the right decision to not continue with that show,” he said.

Instead, SPG will be staging The Rocky Horror Show. Mannisto said while it’s filled with freaks and weirdos and outcasts in the community, it’s all about learning to accept one another for who they are, regardless, and speaks to their desire to promote acceptance of everyone.

“We want to be inclusive; we don’t want to in any way—whether it be unintentional or not—alienate important aspects of our community or issues within it,” he said.

SPG expands their board and aligns their programming to better represent the mosaic of Sudbury

To support their new strategic plan, SPG has welcomed new board members that include representatives from the youth, Francophone and First Nations communities. Mannisto said these new members are supporters of the arts, and will provide more culturally diverse opinions at the table that support their inclusive vision.

Mannisto said that sometimes, despite it being unintentional, arts group are perceived to be inaccessible to some members of society. Hoping to change that perception, SPG has been reaching out into the community and making a conscious effort to recruit new volunteers from all walks of life.

“We’ve secured over 100 new volunteers within the last month or so, and many ages, races, and different cultures are represented,” he said. “We want SPG to be as inclusive of a community arts group as possible.” 

Mannisto said they’re looking forward to tackling their strategic plan over the next three years, and by 2025, be a group that best captures what the cultural mosaic of Greater Sudbury is by offering diverse programming that is inclusive to the entire community.

To learn more about upcoming SPG’s shows or if you’d like to become a volunteer, contact them online, call 705-662-8518, e-mail them at [email protected] , or check out their Facebook page or the latest information.