DAWN LYONS GOES behind the scenes with . DARLENE PICCO & GLENDA RICHARDS I am standin~ in the lobby of the golden Royal Bank tower at Bay and F~ont at ten zn the morning, scanning the river of passing faces . Ninety percent of them are focussed inward, confident in their speeding paths as electrons. The other ten percent are like me, anxiously scanning the horizon. Today I am to interview a Patron of the Arts and an Artist: Darlene Picco, manager of Royal Bank's Sponsorship Marketing for Ontario; and Glenda Richards of Richburn Entertainment. They are, respectively, sponsor and producer of the Royal Bank Seniors Jubilee. "Red hair" is my clue for recognizing Glenda. A red-haired scanner approaching on the escalator fits the bill. Me: Glenda? Glenda: Dawn? A tall blonde rounds the comer and pounces on Glenda: There you are, I was at the other escalator. They giggle like schoolgirls. Looks like we've found Darlene. We repair to the food court for muffins and coffee. Darlene tells Glenda the e-mail was great, Glenda tells Darlene that she will send the hard copy as soon as the lay-out is complete. Glenda goes for the coffees, Darlene steers us · _to what I firmly believe is the -ONLY quiet place in the food court. Darlene pulls a magazine from a blue file folder and passes it across the table to me: "I thought you might find this useful for background. This is Royal Bank's Community Report 2000." The cover sports a kid jumping a row of houses in pursuit of one of those damed Royal Bank yellow blocks. I leaf . through the glossy pages: RB staff selling stuffed lions for the United Way in BC; Royal Bank itself providing computers and free Internet access for 100 families in Riverdale; RB seminars to teach young entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations how to create business plans and get financing; RB staff volunteers being Big Brothers, leading Girl Guides, getting · adopted by an aboriginal clan; the RB "Affinity Card", a VISA card that generates revenue for a notfor-profit organization like Covenant House each time it is used. Fifty six pages. their picture taken with Leo the Royal Bank Lion and they get the photo in a frame that promotes our travel/health insurance. Educational savings plans, brochures, easy sell, we're there first. Let them know what we can offer. Our branch staff likes it, it's like a big party and they get a chance to meet staff from Darlene: Shareholders, yes, I other branches. think it went with the annual We have other events we sponsor, not so much in the arts, 42 wh·olenote MAv 1, 2001 - JuNE 7, 2001 Me: Who is this magazine aimed at? Shareholders? report, but also in the branches, government offices, for image improvement, for customers, staff. In my position I know we do a lot, but a lot of this was a surprise even to me. I took this with me when I talked to the Board of Trade -- it's important that people know what we do. Me: Royal Bank has sponsored the Seniors Jubilee for a long time. Glenda: This is our 11th year together. Darlene: I thought the 12th ... Glenda: '89 was our first year ... Darlene: Royal Bank started in '91... that was before my time. We've just started our third three year contract, I think. Glenda checks the math: The first we did on our own, the second year McDonald's sponsored, then Royal Bank. There was a couple of one-years, then a two-year I think, this would be our third three-year. Darlene and Glenda laugh. Me: lVhat does the Royal Bank contribute besides money? Exp" ertise, management, anything like that? Glenda: The bank decorates the lobbies at Roy Thomson Hall, there's balloons and it looks so festive. Everyone who works at Roy Thomson loves the Royal Bank Seniors Jubilee weeks because everyone's so happy ... Darlene: We also make contacts and present our products. The photo booth - customers have but special events -- you 0 spend so much time making sure they are on schedule, I have to check up a lot. This partnership, I don't worry at all. We do the lead up - T-shirts, bags, balloons, but the show is totally Glenda and Wayne's. Me: How did the Seniors Jubilee get started? Glenda: My partner -- that's Wayne Burnett, the "bum" of Richbum Productions -- and I were working on another project and there was this study in the ·news about the changing demographic, the population aging and people not aware of it. And the other thing was a report, I think it was Theatre Ontario, about senior actors being neglected, you know, the good parts are all for young actors and actresses sort of thing. And it just twigged. So we just did this thing, and it was successful, and we've been doing it ever since. When we started, all the performers were 65 or over,° that was the definition of senior then, now it's 55 and over. The performers we get! Our oldes.t this year is Bobbie Thorp, she's 98. She'll be playing Rachmaninoff, she has only 10 % of her vision left. Last year she said to me as she came off the stage, "Not one wrong note!" She was really pleased with herself. Darlene: I was working the Royal Bank photo booth in the lobby, talking to two girls, in their twenties, and I said are you here to see your grandmother, how nice, and they said, "No, we are here to be inspired. We come every year. " And I thought, · Where's the media? Me: So, Darlene, why does Royal Bank sponsor this show? Darlene: This is business. Seniors are a good.market. Me: How so? Darlene: For one thing, we have 71 different Royal Bank groups that attend the Royal Bank Seniors Jubilee. They use it to recognize their customers. Glenda: Our talent comes from 70 different communities across Ontario, our audience comes from 150 communities. Darlene: Royal Bank staff·gets involved, too, there are 60 volunteers from our branches who come to Toronto to greet, organize, co-ordinate. Me: So this is a bigger deal outside of Toronto than in it? Darlene: Very much so. Royal Bank branches in the smaller towns make the tickets available to senior clients at a reduced rate or whatever, they organize a breakfast and a bus. Not every branch, but it's a good business opportunity for us. And for people who aren't sure whether it's Royal Bank or Bank of Montreal we have posters in the branches and flyers. Glenda takes note: Flyers? Darlene: Yes, and I think I'd like to do in-branch posters, too. Me: Glenda, is the Royal Bank Seniors Jubilee all Richbum Entertainment does? Glenda: Wayne and I still do a few other small projects, but this is major. The talent fair starts in January and runs to June, the show is in mid-August -- August 13 to the 17 this year - we are still doing post-production in . October, it takes a year almost. In between time there are rehearsals, scheduling ... Darlene: I have been there when Wayne auditions and coaches, that's a foll five days, coaching ... Me: Coaching? Glenda: Well, you want them to be ready, this is not an amateur show. But Roy Thomson Hall is a big deal, you know they are going to have nerves.
Me: Where do you find your peiformers? Glenda: Auditions. GTA people we audition at Roy Thomson Hall, outside the city we take applications then go on the road to audition. The first Jubilee was 2 days, but we had so much talent we went right to four in 1990" now we're at five days. Me: You don't buy ads? Heads shake. Glenda: No, this is all free announcements, we couldn't afford to advertise. I send notices to the community newspapers about the auditions And after the auditi