The secret to throwing a great party

[Cache – #19]

Holding a special event is one of the most exciting and effective methods of bonding with your target audience and driving revenue.  Yet it’s often done poorly.  So we could all follow the lead of Turnout, the new young patrons’ group of the National Ballet of Canada, whose launch event was held last month at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Alas, planning an on-brand event begins far in advance of renting the room and buying the booze.  First you must know who you are.  Most brands do not.  The process of self-definition starts by building a brand foundation (Turnout’s is at the bottom of this post).

The brand position – how you are different / what you want people to think of you – is the most vital element of any foundation.  Thus the secret to throwing an equity-building event is making sure your guests experience the brand position – in Turnout’s case the best access – at every moment.

The Turnout launch began with exclusive access to a dress rehearsal of Apollo, which was upcoming at the time.  Adding to the feeling of exclusivity, Turnout guests were privately seated in a deck of the Centre’s stunning auditorium.  The ultimate moment of access came at the end of the rehearsal, when the legendary Karen Kain, now the Ballet’s artistic director, walked on stage to give quiet direction to the dancers.

The cocktail reception that followed, in the glass-walled Jackman Lounge, seamlessly perpetuated the theme.  As you would see at a Hollywood event, guests had their picture taken by a professional photographer against a wall adorned with logos – Turnout’s in this case.  But this photo op had a fun twist:  tutus and other costume pieces from the production of Don Quixote were on hand for patrons to pose in.

More costumes, exquisitely designed and assembled, were available for admiration throughout the room.  As were the dancers themselves – there in the flesh, circulating and chatting with guests.  One of the principals gave a short talk and took questions from the curious audience.

More than 160 guests were in attendance.  In welcoming them, Turnout co-chairs Melanie Dowhaniuk and Allison Freeman clearly explained what the brand was about.  They quoted directly from the foundation, and then they brought it to life.  It was enough to make any brander proud.



Turnout:  Brand Foundation

Core purpose – why we exist

To help build an exciting and sustainable future for The National Ballet of Canada.


Vision – where we are going, and how we’ll know we’re there

Turnout’s vibrant community will make The National Ballet the arts destination for young people in Toronto.


Mission – what we do every day to get there

We inspire the next generation of Toronto arts supporters to build a passionate relationship with ballet.


Position – how we are different; what we want people to think of us

The best access.


Tagline – how we say we are different

Access the world’s best dance™


Values – our principles; what we believe

Access to our artists






Character – our voice; how we act and look








Culturally savvy





Some truly great pictures of the event on Turnout’s Facebook page:


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