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Past Conferences

PM/TDArts COVID Edition

Friday, June 12 – Tuesday, June 23, 2020

They say the show must on…but just not always in the same format.

When the state of emergency was announced in March we were already accepting registrations for the Toronto conference. We figured we would have to cancel and put everything on the back burner until 2021. But following the tremendous success of the on-line SMArts conference, we decided to pivot and re-imagine our offerings.

We were hesitant to move the conference online for two reasons. Firstly, we are very sensitive to the fact that while many Production Managers and Technical Directors may be working from home, many are in crisis-planning mode, working with their companies to salvage what they can, and trying to predict what a return strategy might look like. Secondly, one of core values of both PM and TDArts is creating community and a chance to network. Participants and instructors discuss issues not only inside the conference room but also on breaks, over coffee, and at the bar after sessions. Our fear was if we moved online we would lose that sense of community.

So we came up with a plan that answered both of those concerns.

We opened and closed a two week on-line conference with FREE national conversations / panel discussions on different topics of interest to the PM and TD community.

These conversations took place on ZOOM at 1 p.m. EDT so that participants from across the country could join in.

Interspersed, we offered courses online taught by one of our expert instructors. The courses were chosen for their fit for online delivery.

This was a new venture for both PM and TDArts and we were excited, and slightly nervous, about the COVID Edition of our conference.

“I felt really welcomed by the entire team as a student and first-time conference-goer, even with it being online.”

Participant in COVID conference 2020

“I have really loved attending this conference. This has been my first and was made possible by going online! Very exciting to connect with community and learn!”

Participant in COVID conference 2020
Courses Offered


  • Are you Ready to ZOOM? What we’ve figured out so far.
  • How to Return – Re-imagining “Normal”
  • Remote Collaboration between Designers & Production


  • Excel Magic
  • Never Say Never…or No
  • How Can a Project Management Office Assist an Arts Organization?
  • Respectful Workspaces – Boots on the Ground
Photos from the conference

2019 was the inaugural conference for TDArts.  We started small with one day’s worth of programming to see how the community would respond.  The response was better than expected.  Both our courses sold out and included people from across Canada both in person and digitally.

Our conference Director, Paul Fujimoto-Pihl, kicked off the conference with an in depth look at costing a show starting with the basic and then deep diving into the intricacies of EXCEL.  Three hours was not enough time and we are hoping to bring this course back with a part two in the future.

In the afternoon, Daniel Bennett & Shanna Miller, talked about their experiences with creating a respectful workplace for workers of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and religions.  This session was more of an open dialogue with those in the room rather than a “how-to” session.  The participants came away with different strategies to consider and evaluate in their own organizations.

The vibe from the day was one of excitement at “finding one’s community” and of looking forward to next year’s conference.

Courses Offered

Had representatives from major performing arts companies such as Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera Company, Alberta Ballet, Crow’s Theatre, National Arts Centre, Segal Centre (Montreal), and National Music Centre (Edmonton), as well as from educational institutions.

Courses offered

Panel discussion

  • Making the Leap to TD

Moderated by Conference Director, Paul Fujimoto-Pihl, this panel featured 7 experienced technical directors discussing how they made the leap to TD.  Speakers included:

  • Shanna Miller (Young People’s Theatre)
  • Daniel Bennett (The Grand Theatre)
  • Barney Bayliss (National Ballet of Canada)
  • Wendy Churton (Freelance)
  • Melynda Jurgenson (Canadian Opera Company)
  • Adrien Whan (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)
  • Greg Dougherty (Canadian Stage)

The panel discussed their paths to where they are now, their biggest mistakes and advice they wish they had been given when they were starting out.  Their advice?

  • Don’t let fear drive you.
  • It does not all need to be done right away.  Keep the big picture in mind.  One thing at a time.
  • It is really important to go above and beyond because you expect others to do it.
  • Trust your instincts.  Take a look at the big picture – sometimes you have to say no.
  • There is value in “I don’t know”.
  • Trust the people who are working for you.
  • Remember you are part of the team.  You have many resources.

After the panel discussion, the panellists and the participants continued the discussion and sharing stories at the Imperial Library over beverages.

Photos from the conference

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