Tag Archives: Toronto

Next Show: Voices of Asia presented by Small World Music!

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I am so so stoked to announce I”ll be playing the Voices of Asia presented by Small World Music on April 25th. The tickets are also super reasonable ($20) in a ridiculously gorgeous venue! I’m super privileged to be part of this collaborative project – folk, classical, rock, pop, from different fantastic female musicians from different traditions and voices of Asia. Suba Sankaran, Spire and Vandana Vishwas – I am so so excited!

BUY TICKETS TO THE SHOW

The El Mocambo and Me

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What a lovely break I had over the holidays – a whole week off from the 9-5pm.  It was simply fantastic!In that time I ate, drank, danced and booked a show!

Thursday Jan 13th at the El Mocambo in Toronto – It seems to be a very enigmatic place.

I always like doing shows/events in unusual places – now El Mo (as it is lovingly called in Toronto) is not an unusual place per say – it is a licensed bar that hosts live music.  BUT – it’s been around FOREVER! It was the first bar to get a liquor license in Toronto!

The history of the building goes back to 1850!  This is crazy for a city that is infamous for having very few historic buildings. Oh – and you know a little band called The Rolling Stones played and recorded Love You Live at the El Mocambo back in 1977.  No biggie. 🙂

But what I find most intriguing is the current owner.

Now – I’m getting all of this information from the El Mocambo website, Wikipedia and newspaper articles – so take it as you will.  Abbas Jahangiri, the owner of the El Mo is a serial entrepreneur who has taken a vow of poverty.   His previous professional history includes leading an engineering team, CEO of a real estate development company as well as being a principal for a national dance company  (when you are on the El Mo site – click on History and Owner).  In 2003 he took a vow of poverty and has dedicated his life to helping the most vulnerable in society.  Including daily 2am-6am service and distribution of food and survival needs for hundreds of Toronto’s homeless. Very intriguing no?

I’m most intrigued by his conviction in his change of lifestyle.

Rock n’Roll isn’t a selfless industry – it is fueled by narcissism and vanity……..

Shameless Self Promotion

 

…..so it’s super interesting to come across people who try to find balance with the rock n’roll attitude and the gravest societal needs around them.  These are two extremes and Mr. Jahangiri seems to live at both ends.

I wonder if he will be at the show?  It would be awesome to grab a conversation with him – what couldn’t you talk about?!

Music is about great stories – I have a feeling that the El Mo has more than a few good tales to tell.

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Sing Bandana Singh performs Thursday January 13th at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina Ave. Toronto).  Performance at 7:30pm  $10.  19+.
Music: http://myspace.com/singbandanasingh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/bandbandana
A Heroic Entertainment Production.
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What’s a post about environmental capital have to do with Art?

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Finally here is the interview that I had with Manu Sharma from the Natural Capital Project!

Disclaimer:  I have known Manu for a very long time.  We’ve been friends since we were kids.  When we were little we always said that we wanted to do good in the world.  He recently moved from Toronto to Paolo Alto to work on this project with Stanford.  When I learned what the project was all about – I had questions.  This is not a random encounter – nor was I approached to do this interview by the project.  I was just sincerely intrigued.  I still have questions and will likely have a follow up post.

This interview in total lasts about 15mins. It’s been split into 3 pieces for easier consumption.  The 1st and 3rd part are audio only.  The 2nd part integrates the video desktop recording I’ve always been so curious about.     Also note that ‘B is for Blog’  is a work room so our contributors like to muck about with new ideas and new ways of presenting ideas.  Like, Social Return on Investment,  natural capital and trying to capture value in processes that have traditionally not been valued,  is a very tricky business.   It’s a project with huge scope, great hope and amazing minds working behind the scenes. (The first post we did was titled “The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?”)

Part 1: The Basics (6.5 mins)

http://naturalcapitalproject.com

Part 2: The Model (6 mins)

Part 3: Why Manu is a part of this project (2 mins)

Now back to the question posed in the post….What does a post about environmental capital have to do with art?

Lots really  – if you think about it.

Something that’s always bothered me about many disciplines, (in particular, art,  science or engineering based disciplines) is the weird way we compartmentalize what we do and keep it far away from those whom we deem simply too inept to understand what we are all about.

That was so 1990.  Welcome to the new age and the world of the ‘interdisciplinary.’  These interviews with amazing people I’ve met are a way to stimulate discussion in and between the disciplines we, artists or otherwise, belong to.

The environment is what we all live within.  FStop10, our resident photog, has utilized the landscape around us, animals and their natural and not so natural habitats as inspiration and muses for her work.  Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most influential photographers, utilizes his perspective and use of the lens to bring  us into a part of our world that is so daily and yet so hidden. (You totally need to see this video that describes his collection titled ‘Oil.’)

The beauty of having an interview with an environmentalist or learning about a discipline outside of your own is that integration aspect – that integration aspect is what I think has been missing from problem solving and addressing the world’s most devastating issues. The world is three dimensional – there is no single discipline that will save us.

Artists are amazing critical and creative thinkers.  We can bring a completely different or complimentary point of view to any issue.  Moving from compartmentalized disciplines to interdisciplinary thinking is like moving from 2d to 3d in the films;  it helps to make the picture fuller and more detailed – it brings life to the perspective.

Art+Business – I want that love child.

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This is what I was really working on during my  island escape from the city:  an artist business plan.

For artists  ‘business’ is a bad dirty word -it’s quite a taboo subject for some.  So let’s talk dirty – let’s do something naughty, let’s  just do it –  we’re going to create the the love child of Art + Business.  Oh yeah.

Everyone is a business, whether you like it or not. You earn money you have expenses money comes in and goes out and hopefully at the end of the day there’s a little bit left over for savings and rrsps and ice cream.

I’ve been busy reading the usual creative + entrepreneurial blogs: The 99%, GigaOm, TechCruch, FastCompany, and  following up on Toronto + non-Toronto  based entertainment + tech entrepreneurs (Kunal Gupta, Gurbhaskh Chahal*, Zark Fatah*,  , Uniq Lifestyle’s Nitsa Tsoumaris* – one of the few female entertainment leaders I’ve come across).  Amazing people working on very different ideas that all intersect in parallel industries.  I’ve been mulling over their accomplishments, and comparing and contrasting their businesses with the smaller non-profits that I have worked for.

For-profit or non-profit organizations start the same way:  someone has a great idea and starts gathering people and resources to execute their vision.  However the trajectory for the for-profit start-up is very different compared to the non-profit  start-up which seems to have a much more difficult time finding partners for growth even if the ideas are sound.  Whereas for-profit start-ups seem to be able to gather capital even if the idea is inherently risky.

With a VERY broad brush – here are my thoughts:

The non-profit organization model is somewhat like an older woman with maternal tendencies:  steadfast, dependable, self-assured, resourceful and willing to make whatever sacrifices it takes to her own material wealth to ensure the health of the family unit. But this model has inherently been neglected by investors because of the lack of financial return (obviously).  Growth becomes difficult without capital.

Whereas the for-profit model is much more like a young man in his prime with an adolescent swagger: well connected, brand-conscious, self interested, status driven, willing to risk whatever it takes to be recognized by his peers as number 1.  Investors have always loved these kinds of organizations – venture capitalists salivate at the thought of the financial potential gain – but I wonder if they recognize how many for-profits are inherently neglectful of the very communities that are supporting them.

I want to be both a mom and an alpha male.

The non-profit world does so much amazing work – the people are incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and educated, but  overworked and underpaid. In many instances the non-profit worker is without health benefits – which makes them vulnerable.  You shouldn’t have to take a vow of poverty to help your community.    On the other hand, the corporate world has the incredible ability to raise huge amounts of capital in short periods of time; but does so at the expense of common or community goods and values.

Hence my business plan – where I’m trying to manage, or rather mix, both cultures into a third more holistic business culture – the Social Enterprise.  Cultural Careers Council Ontario has been a huge help.  Many people, including MaRS in Toronto,  are working on these ideas and  my own works are a small part of this experiment.

If you were going to create a business plan for your own life – which model would you be? For Profit? Non-Profit?  Social Enterprise? What kinds of ways would you be comfortable making money?  What material assets could you not do without?

Try to build your own basic business plan for your own lively hood – it’s daunting, daring and a surprisingly fun.  Here’s a great PDF primer for artists (but it’s useful info for everyone)  from the Cultural Human Resources Council: AMYC-Chapter1-en

*I have a TON of respect for these guys – they are all self-made, they’ve worked like crazy to get where they are, they run successful businesses which are all highly recognized – but what’s the deal with the dark backgrounds and shiny pics?  Have you noticed how similar the aesthetic is between all of these brands- even Mr. Chahal’s brand  even though he  is actually a tech entrepreneur?   Intriguing – needs a thesis I think – something along the lines of male dominated industry + night time pursuits with inherently dark imagery to evoke the mysterious exotic aspect of their brands…..I struggle with this idea with my own branding – I think this is another post in the making.  Meggy Wang and I have had great conversations about this topic – I think it’s going to be my next post.   Any thoughts?
PS: My interview with Manu Sharma from The Natural Capital Project will happen in the next week! Keep an eye out!