Tracy Briggs: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is Canadian Opera Company Special Events Manager Tracy Briggs, whose behind young professional must-attends like Operanation and Centre Stage. What was the inspiration for her career route? Find out in today’s profile…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I manage the special events at the Canadian Opera Company (COC). We have three major fundraisers: Operanation, Centre Stage (a new event this fall!) and the Fine Wine Auction. I also oversee the Canadian Opera Company’s young patron program, Ensemble Circle, and plan our productions’ opening night parties. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I have always loved the arts, so it seemed natural for me to make a career out of it. When I began in my position in 2010, the company was taking a look at how it could grow its events and patron programs to attract a wider audience, and it’s been very exciting to be overseeing that development over the last few years. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside a dedicated group of young professionals to launch Ensemble Circle, a program that offers its members the opportunity to enhance their opera-going experience by joining a network of their peers from across the arts, media and business communities, and benefiting from a personalized introduction to the world of opera and the Canadian Opera Company. This program was launched in 2011 and grew out of our annual fundraising party, Operanation, as guests from that event were often left with wanting more after seeing the incredible collaborations between the young artists of the COC Ensemble Studio program and contemporary musicians, such as Nelly Furtado and Broken Social Scene. I thrive in creating events and programs and am excited for my portfolio to continue to grow as we are introduce a new special event this fall.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day is working on the creative ideas that are in motion for our events. Operanation is a lot of fun to organize as there are many elements involved in the planning and execution – everything is in the details. A few years ago we expanded the event to address the fashion and visual art components of opera. We introduced activations with the Ryerson School of Fashion, which reinterpreted opera costumes into ready-to-wear fashion pieces and enlisted artists Dean Baldwin, Nadia Belerique and Jennifer Rose Sciarrino to create an interactive art installations relating to the theme and/or opera. It took months of coordination to bring it all together and the result was absolutely fantastic and really showed off the creativity and artistry of the visual arts in all the varied ways it can be applied. I also love picking out the table setting for Operanation’s VIP Dinner – it’s such an exciting and intimate part of the evening’s activities. 

An ongoing challenge is finding the balance to all our projects as a lot of the COC’s fundraising events are concentrated over two periods of time when the volume of activity in the company is already pretty high – but that’s what work back schedules are for!

What does success look like to you?
Event day! The special events at the COC take months and months to plan and the day of the event is where everything comes together. The execution of months of planning is gratifying as you see all of your hard work come to fruition.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My most memorable milestone is currently in the works. This fall, we launch the Canadian Opera Company’s annual Ensemble Studio Competition Gala, Centre Stage. It’s been in development for the past few years, and stems from the success of the Ensemble Studio Competition, which became a public event in 2011. The event began as an intimate vocal competition and dinner in the Jackman Lounge at the Four Seasons Centre. The response from our patrons to this event has been so supportive and demand to attend has been so strong that we are bringing the competition into the main hall this year and having a gala dinner on stage. The Canadian Opera Company has not had a gala dinner on its stage since we opened the opera house in 2006, so it’s exciting to lay the foundation of this event for years to come.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Join event and program committees. It’s a great way of networking while making an impact on the organization you’re supporting. I manage four annual committees of volunteers and we truly could not execute our programs and events without their involvement.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
The Canadian Opera Company is definitely the most important to me. However, I do like to support other arts organizations in Toronto by attending their performances, exhibitions and events.

What to you is notable?
Sam Roberts Band taking the stage and collaborating with members of our Ensemble Studio program at this year’s Operanation: A Night of Temptation

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