Today we sat down with Carla Sinclair, the RMG’s Manager of Volunteer and Community Development to find out more about her role and what she gets up to each day. You probably recognize Carla as your host of RMG Fridays – say hello next time you see her in the RMG Shop.
The RMG: What’s a typical day like for you?
Carla Sinclair: My day looks very different day to day depending on which part of my role I am working on. I manage our volunteer program, plan RMG Fridays, the gallery’s monthly community event as well as manage our gallery shop.
Between internal staff meetings, volunteer interviews, community engagement, consignment artist acquisitions and a number of cultural advisory committees/professional development associations, meetings can often fill up many of my days. Some days are quieter allowing me to spend hours on my computer sending emails, doing research, paperwork, and planning. If I am hosting an RMG Fridays or representing the RMG at a cultural event, I get to be social and interact with the community. The flexibility of my job caters to my multi-faceted personality. I love the diversity in my role!
The volunteer umbrella involves responding to volunteer requests, booking interviews, meeting with and assessing which department best suits new recruits, managing and posting new volunteer opportunities and keeping track of hours worked. As a member of multiple volunteer associations, I attend monthly meetings that provide professional development opportunities in the industry of volunteer administration. Thinking of new ways to incorporate the many skills that walk through the doors here at the RMG is always a priority.
Planning RMG Fridays involves looking at curatorial schedules and building an event around exhibitions set to open or tour each month. I often choose a theme and try to connect all of the activities that are going on during an RMG Fridays: Live music, short films, exhibition tours, studio activity, community partners, food vendors. I love to add cultural elements that engage our audience by bringing in local theatre groups to perform a teaser of their show, a dance company, spoken word poet – just about anything that showcases the incredible local talent we have here in Durham and beyond! Booking musicians is typically the first element, and when possible this happens 4-6 months in advance. Sometimes artists reach out to me, other times I get suggestions from community members. I also try to find talent by attending local music venues, open mics and cultural events.
Short films for our Friday Film Features screening room at RMG Fridays get submitted through our website. These are viewed internally and 1 or 2 films are chosen to screen every 15 minutes throughout the evening. For food vendors, they are local, independent restaurants or caterers who put together a table of delicious eats to sell in the lobby, giving local entrepreneurs a chance to engage with the community and showcase their business. I typically contact them individually but encourage anyone interested to reach out to me as well.
Community partners come from a variety of sources, some send requests, others are contacted based on the mandate of their organization and how it ties in to our event theme. After the details are nailed down, the next task is submitting the information to our Marketing Manager for promotional print materials and booking volunteers to help run all of the components of the evening. We typically have 8-15 volunteers behind the scenes making RMG Fridays happen, in tandem with our incredible audio engineer, DJ Lynz and dedicated RMG staff. When the big day comes, I spend the afternoon and early evening setting up tables, chairs, AV equipment, signage, printing schedules, shopping for supplies, greeting performers and partners. I then hold a meeting with our event volunteers at 6:30pm before doors open. The rest of the night involves hosting the event on stage. I, along with my colleague and co-host welcome guests, introduce the musicians, performers, and partners while sharing all of the awesome things happening in the building that evening!
The gallery shop is another component of my role including retail management, volunteer management (our friendly sales associates are all volunteers!), merchandising and researching consignment artists. Over the past year we’ve shifted the shop vision to include primarily Canadian consignment artists. This means I have to find talented artists whose work suits our local market. Some artists approach me, others I research, or find by planning volunteer outings with shop associates to canvas art shows/studios for promising candidates. Within the shop role is a lot of paperwork; Daily sales sheets, monthly shop deposits, quarterly consignment inventory and payouts as well as general correspondence. I host a monthly shop volunteer meeting to update our associates on new product, hear customer feedback and to build community amongst our volunteers.
RMG: How did you get into this field?
CS: Having worked at the Nelson and District Arts Council, in on-air broadcast radio, teaching film programs and as a partner at Empty Cup Media, I’ve always invested my career in the arts and culture. One of these roles was producing video projects for The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, where I came to know the inspired team of staff that run this incredible space. The sense of community fostered here compelled me to be a voice in Oshawa’s expanding creative culture.
RMG: What skills or training do you need for your job?
It’s such a mixed bag, but I’d say…
- Excellent written and communication skills
- Creative thinking
- Computer proficiency
- Eye for merchandising and attention to detail
- Organizational skills
- Ability to recognize individual talents and abilities
- Public speaking
- Event management
- Ability to teach and explain tasks well
- Excellent social skills
- Avid interest in being active in the cultural community
- Strategic planning
RMG: What’s your favourite part of your job?
CS: RMG Fridays! If you haven’t already been out to this awesome monthly event, I encourage you to come to the next one. Bands, artist talks and local partnerships create an atmosphere unlike any other you will find in Oshawa. I love the crowd it attracts and see it as an accessible, creative hub for entertainment, education and networking.
RMG: What are 5 things you couldn’t live without in your job?
CS: My top 5 are:
- Charity Republic – Volunteer database software
- Post it notes
- Amazing Volunteers
RMG: What do you get up to outside of the RMG?
CS: Outside of work at the gallery, I make films with Empty Cup Media. Our team has been working on a web series over the past couple years which means I’m heading to South Africa in October 2016 to film one of the latest episodes! I also spend time with my squishy faced pug Gryffin, have joined an adult ballet class after recently retiring from 5 years of roller derby, and love checking out local live music at Oshawa’s Memorial Park or The Moustache Club.