Guillaume Therien has always been inspired by music, but since he doesn’t play any instruments, he didn’t know he could make it his career.
That is, until he found a way to combine his business sense with his artistic side.
While completing his Bachelor’s degree in Finance at HEC Montreal, Guillaume Therien began his professional life at Sony Music as a sales representative. From there, he moved on to marketing agency Mosaic, running campaigns for big brands Diageo, Labatt, Rogers and many other clients.
Now, as acting Sales and Marketing Director of Opéra de Montréal, both his passions have come together in perfect harmony.
Each year, over 55,000 spectators make their way through the doors of the Opera de Montréal, the largest francophone opera company in North America. Therien’s job is to help keep the whole operation afloat by generating revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, corporate gifts and philanthropy.
He also has to balance two often competing priorities: highlighting the exceptional tradition of opera, while also driving innovation and attracting a younger generation of patrons.
“Millennials came of age in a time where the entertainment industry began to be affected by the Internet; in a time where instantaneity is a mantra and the world is accessible,” says Therien.
Despite this, he also adds that millennials are very “civic-minded,” which is great news for a philanthropy-oriented institution like the Opéra de Montréal.
Still, appealing to the millennial demographic is not without its challenges.
“We have to adapt our message, choose the right channel of communication and engage in a dialogue with them as soon as possible in order to build credibility and a sense of social engagement,” says Therien.
With support from National Bank, the Opéra’s young professional committee is helping the organization broaden and renew its audience, reach out to the corporate scene, and mobilize the city’s community of young professionals. For example, their “Night at the Opera” benefit helps celebrate the art of opera while also appealing to a millennial crowd with features like a DJ, open bar, VIP lounge and more.
These events are more than just fundraisers; they’re also unique opportunities for discussion and learning, and give a younger audience privileged access to opera.
Technology has also played a huge role in helping the Opéra better reach its community.
Last spring, the young professional committee launched a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule, with the partnership of National Bank, to support the operation and artistic activities of the Opera de Montreal’s costume shop.
The campaign ended up raising $23,000.
“Philanthropy is about relationships and technology is just another way to connect with people,” says Therien.
However, he says the key factor to philanthropy success is quite simple: Be real.
For young professionals who want to get more involved in charitable giving, Therien has these words of wisdom: “Choose with your heart. Give time. Gather your friends. Spread the word. Invest your money towards concrete actions. Have fun doing it.”