Vision: To be a leading, international centre for connection and creativity through music.
Mission: Westben nurtures communities through exceptional musical experiences.
Core Business: To bring people together through music.
1. What does Westben mean by becoming a Centre?
By becoming a Centre, Westben seeks to create a friendly, stimulating meeting place; a welcoming destination which promotes a year-round convergence of people, ideas and activities. It seeks to be a cultural hub which nurtures the joy of music, as well as the inflow and outflow of the creative musical experience.
As a Centre, Westben envisions itself to be an organization that offers a multi-faceted, inter-related collection of programs and activities all of which revolve around a unified vision. Currently conceived as virtual (i.e., not located in any one, specific facility), Westben’s concept of Centre is open-doored, with room to grow and develop. And at the centre of the Centre is the heart of what we do: music.
2. Why now?
As Westben approaches its twentieth anniversary in 2019, it is the perfect time to dream about what the next twenty years will look like. We all want to continue to nurture Westben into a thriving organization which will last well into the future. Reimagining the organization as a Centre allows us the perfect opportunity to build on the strengths of the past while opening the door to future possibilities. It represents both growth and the next logical step in our evolution.
3. How will Concerts at The Barn summer music festival and Community Events be effected?
Both Concerts at The Barn and Westben’s Community Events will continue to thrive. As the flagship of the organization, Westben’s Concerts at The Barn will continue to offer unique musical experiences in its natural, breathtaking setting, from late June until early August. It will continue to showcase an array of international Canadian and emerging artists in a variety of musical genres ranging from classical to Broadway, jazz, folk, fiddle, fun and more. Future years may see the expansion of the summer season, new types of programming and innovative experiences, based on demand. Likewise, Westben’s Community Events will continue to develop year-round, including its Large Ensemble programs (e.g., the Choruses and the Wind Ensemble) as well as the growing number of life-long learning programs. We also plan to continue presenting community musicals and Christmas programs on a regular basis.
4. So what’s new?
A Fresh Perspective. As we evolve, we need to keep the way in which we look at Westben fresh. The new plan helps us reimagine Westben: instead of a summer music festival supported by year-round events, we imagine a year-round Centre that includes a summer music festival.
New Possibilities. As we refresh our perspective, we also open the door to new possibilities. While core programs will continue to evolve (e.g., Concerts at The Barn, community events, etc.), year-round activities will be increased and intensified. Exciting new programs, based on new and current partnerships and needs, will be explored. In the immediate future, these include Residencies, House Concerts, and educational programs. Beyond that, it is wide open!
Specific Changes. Westben will be investigating new partnerships locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. It will present new programming based on these new partnerships and other needs. We also will be developing methods to get Westben “out and around” including digital formats for communication and streaming, touring, co-productions, publishing and more.
5. Why a Centre for “Connection & Creativity”?
Connection – Bringing people together with each other and with music.
Creativity – Exploring ways in which to broaden the connection with the musical experience.
Westben has always been passionate about connection and creativity. Over its eighteen-year history, Westben has become increasingly known as a place where communities come together to create, have fun and learn from one another. This has included artists and audiences, but also volunteers, sponsors and supporters as well as participants and learners from all generations. Westben has always found great joy in bringing people together through music. Likewise, Westben has always nurtured creative ways of encountering music: live classical music at The Barn, in a forest, under the stars, etc. We have also explored the creative process itself through premiere productions of original music and innovative experiences.
At its heart, the plan to reimagine Westben as a Centre for Connection and Creativity through Music is itself based very much on reaching, impacting and involving more people in new ways. It is fitting, then, to define the Centre using these two terms.
6. What will Westben’s new Centre mean to our area?
Economic Impact: The Province of Ontario estimates that Westben currently generates at least $500,000 annually into the local economy. This will rise as Westben’s cultural impact increases. The Banff Centre, Stratford Festival, Glyndebourne and Tanglewood are all now known as cultural and economic powerhouses which attract and impact internationally. Like Westben, these were born out of love, dedication and community.
Community Impact: Westben’s geographic and artistic communities have been vital in bringing Westben to where it is today, and they will remain so to Westben’s future. As a community organization, Westben will continue to be a place of gathering, exploration and learning. It will be a place where local enthusiasts and professional artists can share their love of music. It will be a place where volunteers, members, donors and sponsors can feel integral to the betterment of their community. It will be a place where music improves a community’s quality of life.