September 28, 2013

Spotlight on Alumni: Sue Edworthy

Sue Edworthy Sue Edworthy

Marketing/Communications Guru and Arts Planner extraordinaire Sue Edworthy (BA Theatre 1995) joins us to share her story of life behind the scenes and to answer our questions!

I’ve been working in the non-profit performing arts in Toronto ever since graduating in ’95. It’s led me to stints as a director, event coordinator and arts administrator with companies all over the city including Opera Atelier, Dance Umbrella of Ontario, Theatre Passe Muraille, Luminato and STAF.

Two years ago, after realizing no matter where I worked I always had a side gig, I opened my own company – Sue Edworthy Arts Planning and haven’t stopped. It’s given me the opportunity to work with some amazing indie and medium sized companies like Expect Theatre (two other York Alumni!), Theatre Rusticle, Bound to Create, Obsidian and more – you can see them at

I’ve always been an active volunteer, and that hasn’t stopped either – I’m a former Board Member for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and am now a member of their Advocacy Committee. I’m also the Social Media Chair/Steering Committee member for Artsvote 2010, and co-chair for the continuation of Artsvote.  I love the fact that I am a part of such an amazing community – I’m extremely proud of my Harold Award for outstanding contribution to the theatre community, and my 2012 CharPR Prize for best PR. That PR prize was for one of my most challenging and rewarding works to date – producing Michael Healey’s Proud in 2012 – we’re thrilled it’s opening the GCTC 2013 season in Ottawa!

I’ve been a proud Board member for the Toronto Fringe Festival for six years now – it delights me to contribute to such an amazing festival that gives such incredible opportunities to artists. I’ve never left the arts world, and feel pretty much ensconced in the theatre one.

Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward? 

Someone once described the theatre community as “a very small town spread out over a very big country” and I absolutely agree. The relationships fostered in university can last for a lifetime – some of my dearest friends are people I met at York, and some of my favourite colleagues and clients were fellow students. Having people in your community who have known you that long can be a very good thing – I was at the Mayor’s Arts Awards this spring – I’d nominated a client (two people who I shared a directing class with) and was chatting with another friend who works at a major theatre. We insisted a photo be taken – we’d known each other for twenty years.

What was the most valuable thing you learned while studying in Theatre at York?

In two words – BALANCE and DECISIONS. And I don’t mean the over-used phrase “work life balance” that everyone quotes these days. Work and life are not necessarily two separate things. I mean balance in your whole life – because work is part of that. Figure out what matters to you. Do that thing well. Enjoy it. And if that thing happens to change from being an actor, or a technician or whatever – honour that change. Honour yourself and other with your decisions.  I started at York wanting to be an actor, changing to director, hemming and hawing about stage management, and finally I’m now a producer and really good marketer. Do I have a marketing degree? No. My degree in in directing. Did I learn a ton of stuff that I can apply to what I do now? YES.
You’ll be happiest once you decide and honestly, so will everyone else.

What was your favourite place at York, and why?

My single room in Winters res. second and third year. I had a double futon, a Crayola caddy, a boom box and two decks of cards.  There was inevitably one game of euchre going on, someone drawing a picture (my room was covered in everyone’s artwork), someone waiting to join the game (I had a sign on my door labelled “looking for a 4th”. Someone else would be using my word processor (not computer – word processor and I had one of the few in res) to type a paper, and music was playing constantly. There were usually seven or eight people in there, working talking laughing. My door was generally open and I liked it that way. True sense of people, of community – a fun, odd, loud little one. An arts microcosm. A lot of work got done in that room, believe it or not.

Go back and visit your younger self as you were beginning at York, what advice would you give yourself?

Calm down. Take it seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously. We’re all in the same boat – we’re all tired, hungry, working part time jobs, scheduled for NatSci and ensemble rehearsal at the same time. We were all the best at what we did in high school. Now there’s competition. Learn from each other. Listen to each other. Have fun sounds so cheesy, everyone says it – but do it. Have NON-theatre fun. Experience life outside.  Some of the best things in my time at York were baseball games outside the fine arts “cafeteria”, building a rococo snowwoman (snococo), exploring Toronto outside of your York theatre comfort zone. The best things happen outside that zone. Yes downtown is far – get DOWN there. Go to things. Get to know each other – many of you will be in each others’ lives a lot longer than you think.