Tracy Briggs is the Senior Manager of Special Events at the Canadian Opera Company, and considering their amazing programming, it’s a seriously cool job. With fundraisers like Operanation, now in its tenth year, a new initiative called Centre Stage, a fine wine auction, and more, Briggs’ playbook is always full. What keeps her going? Her combined passion for the arts, and planning a damn good party.
SDTC: How long have you been working for the COC? How did you end up in the role you have now?
Tracy Briggs: I just celebrated my third year with the Canadian Opera Company. I’ve worked for arts and nonprofit organizations in the past, managing special events and patron programs. When the opportunity to work for a world-class organization presented itself, it was an easy decision for me. At the COC, I’ve been able to develop the special events portfolio and introduce new exciting events that continue to enhance our programs.
SDTC: When did you know you wanted a career in event planning/management?
TB: I’ve always gravitated towards planning events and parties. Beginning in university, I volunteered for student organizations and it seemed like a natural fit, especially in the arts, for which I’ve always had a passion.
SDTC: What does a typical day look like for you?
TB: On any given day I’m meeting with committee members, sponsors, vendors or I’m doing a run schedule or coordinating our marketing material for our events. Basically, there is no typical day! I manage the special events at the Canadian Opera Company, this includes three major fundraisers: Operanation, Centre Stage (a new event this fall!) and the Fine Wine Auction, overseeing the COC’s young patron program, Ensemble Circle, and planning some of our productions’ opening night parties. I’m usually focusing on an upcoming event while balancing the planning for the next.
SDTC: How much preparation goes into Operanation?
TB: A full year of preparation goes into Operanation, as there are there are many elements involved in its planning and execution. Not only does the party have a large scale performance (this year featuring Sam Roberts Band with a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio program, Ambur Braid), but in recent years has expanded to include fashion and visual art installations, tying back to the visual aspect of the operatic art form. We’re also so blessed to have many committed sponsors to the event. For example, our presenting sponsor, TD Bank Group, has already signed on for Operanation in 2014!
SDTC: Why is Operanation so special? So important?
TB: Operanation is so special because it’s where classic culture meets modern people. The combination of a large-scale performance combining opera with contemporary music, art installations, amazing food and beverage at an incredible location (the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts) makes for the perfect evening. In addition to the beautiful party, the event supports the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals.
SDTC: Do you have any advice for others looking to start a career in events?
TB: Volunteer! It’s a great way not only to decide whether a career in events is a good fit for you, but also forge important connections and a professional network.
SDTC: In your opinion, what makes a great party? What are the must-haves?
TB: A great party is created with a combination of people, partners, music and food. Attendees of Operanation have the added benefit that they’re also supporting a great cause.
SDTC: Why is opera such an important part of the Canadian arts scene?
TB: The Canadian Opera Company is dedicated to furthering the operatic art form, engaging young patrons, and partnering with other world class opera companies to bring world class productions to the COC. Our General Director Alexander Neef has made so many great strides with these efforts. Just consider for a moment that in Toronto you have the opportunity to see productions that are on the stages of the premier houses in Paris, Madrid and New York. We’re also entering into our third year of our young patrons program, Ensemble Circle, and we’re overwhelmed with the interest in the program and the connection that young professionals in Toronto are making with the company and the opera scene.
SDTC: What can guests expect from Operanation’s 10th anniversary event?
TB: Operanation takes over three levels of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with a variety of tempting installations. Calvin Klein will be showcasing their new scent, DOWNTOWN with a fun night-on-the-town giveaway. Trius wines will be creating a tasting experience with wines for guests to enjoy. This year we are collaborating with rising fashion designer KAELEN and the Sam Roberts Band to produce a high fashion concert tee, with a limited stock of 50 tees available for purchase. We’re also so lucky to have well known Toronto-based artist Jon Sasaki create an experimental piece with our young artists – I’ll just say it involves glass and a really high pitch! And in terms of culinary delicacies, 10tation catering will be taking the lead on the food and have some creative eats to tempt your taste buds. Of course, Sam Roberts Band will take the stage and rock out with our guests, featuring a performance with Ensemble Studio graduate and Operanation star, Ambur Braid.
Operanation: A Night of Temptation returns Thursday, Oct. 24th, 2013 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.