As we roll out the first issue of ArtsCan’s newsletter, I want to share a story about the power of words.

Early last summer, Pat Higinbotham (former board member) invited Chris Thornley, Surrey/White Rock’s retired marketing guru, and friend of the arts, to put together “an elevator conversation” for ArtsCan Resource Network. Although the board knows who we are and where we are going, we are inclined to stumble over the details when we try to convey that to others.

We are, after all, a diverse arts organization, so it is not easy to put together a message that works for everyone. The communications challenge was to gain consistent, accurate, brief but informative responses to the frequently asked questions: What exactly is ArtsCan Resource Network? What does it do?

Although officially retired, Chris Thornley – always willing to help a friend in need – agreed to take on the challenge; ArtsCan as seen from the outside, looking in.

When we met in my COVID-spaced garden a few weeks later, Chris was wearing his professional hat, and we were all a little nervous. He stood at the end of the make-believe conference table and reminded us that in advocating for support of all the arts, ArtsCan had taken on a lot, and no one elevator conversation could possibly be a fit for everyone.

Chris had read all the material we had given him, and had reviewed our strategic plan with a former employee. He said, “This is what we got. I want you to take a minute before you respond.” He held up a sheet of 8”x11” white bond paper. It had two words inscribed under ArtsCan. It read: ArtsCan Opens Doors. Then he sat down and waited, quietly, for our reaction.

ArtsCan Opens Doors.

That was it.

My first thought was that the elevator conversation would be over before we reached the second floor. Then I had this picture of Peggy Lee, singing, “If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing.” It took a few seconds, but then I started connecting the words to sentences.

ArtsCan Opens Doors by providing artists with a free online presence in our member directory, so people can find them.

ArtsCan Opens Doors by connecting artists to the resources they need to thrive. We do this by welcoming arts organizations and a variety of businesses into our directory for free as well.

ArtsCan Opens Doors by shining a light on social issues faced by artists of every background and discipline.

And I got it . . . the brilliance behind the simple message. Thank you, Chris Thornley.

And today, I would like to thank our communications team for opening another door by launching our newsletter.