Both opening audience’s minds and hearts to the arts, as well as fostering artists’ development and performance opportunities, have been at the core of Ann Summers Dossena’s widespread and innovative efforts.
After a successful career with Ann Summers International, her Toronto- and Rome-based artist management firm, Dossena is continuing her hands-on commitment to the performing arts world with her work with the International Resource Center for Performing Arts.
Initially honored with the first Manager of the Year Award by the North American Association of Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA) in 2012, Dossena again received an accolade with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to her at the 66th annual New York congress of the International Society for the Performing Arts (www.ispa.org) on January 16th. Dossena, the first Canadian to receive this award, was recognized for her dedication and distinguished service within the profession, in particular her unceasing ability to find novel ways to advance the performing arts.
There are many ‘firsts’ to her many accomplishments, some of which proved visionary. Dossena initiated the Extended Engagement Plan in New York, now known as the Artist in Residence program for chamber music groups, as well as arranged Concert Party, a series of informal concerts to build new audiences. In addition, after Carnegie Hall had been saved from its demolition, it was Dossena who produced the first series of Carnegie Hall concerts, which included the still actively programmed Visiting Orchestra series.
“It all started with trying to help out artist friends of mine. And everything grew by doing,” she says of her first classical concert promotions at the New York Biltmore Hotel for Concert Party with the founding members of the Dorian Quartet during the early 60s. While the hotel does not exist anymore, the appeal of creating the feel of community is – once again – au courant, resulting in quite a few new venues that offer that dimension for classical music presentation, as an alternative experience to the concert hall venue.
In 1983, Dossena founded the International Resource Center for the Performing Arts. www.ircpa.net This non-profit, charitable organization (incorporated in 1985) had the goal of “turning potential into accomplishment,” a principal motivation which she describes in detail in her book: Getting it all together (Scarecrow Press, 1985)
“The many artists who graduate from the schools with a curriculum that is so full are barely able to accommodate all that has to be taken in. Often left to their own devices, they are in desperate need of getting to know what is expected of them in the real market and how to handle that. Only artists who are “the whole package” can survive in today’s competitive market and they need opportunities to develop practical knowledge and artistic ideas. There needs to be a platform for an exchange of ideas, workshops for career moves and access to documentation of what others have done. In short, resources of all sorts…”
The International Resource Center for the Performing Arts is designed to help precisely with all the practical demands of a career in the field. Panels are created that bring together publicists, managers, presenters and booking agents of orchestras which educate young artists to a world they are not necessarily familiar with, when they transition from practice room to concert stage. Amongst the Center’s programs are workshops like Encounters with Employers and Career moves, as well as a bit of handholding during the process of exploring one’s employability or trying new directions, without risk to career or reputation.
The Center assists the artist with their choices and how to put the pieces of the puzzle together: whether it is to make the proper wardrobe decision or come full circle to the conclusion that this may not be the career they really want.
Dossena, who tirelessly works her wonders as a catalyst for transformation, is currently on a mission to establish a new home for this brainchild, and create a Resource Center in Toronto.
“Emerging professionals need a place to come together, exchange ideas, gain confidence, be mentored by working professionals who can pass on their career experiences, set short and long term goals, and to know they are not alone in their endeavors,”she says.
She herself is a walking lesson of what one needs in the world of the performing arts: enthusiasm, tenacity and a high energy level are a must. And she has all of that in spades.