Coaching vs. Consulting

JAY KATZ is an Arts Consultant and Executive Coach, who is a former board member of ACCA |

Arts Consultants have long been offering their services to help Arts organizations in their management and planning. In recent years, a different form of consulting has become available to Arts organizations – that of Coaching. Many Arts consultants already engage in coaching activities as part of their consulting work. However, following on the growth of coaching as a tool for developing and supporting managers and leaders in the private sector, more and more arts organizations are now hiring coaches, independent of other consulting projects. This can be demonstrated by the Ontario Arts Council’s recent inclusion of Coaching among the types of consulting projects for which it provides support through grants.

The growing popularity of coaching can be attributed to the experience of its benefits. Two of the more widely quoted studies on coaching in the private sector have cited demonstrable improvements in organizations which used coaching:

Birkeland, et al (1997) and Davis and Petchnik (1998) studied the impact of coaching on executives at Amoco Corporation (now part of British Petroleum) over a ten year period. They found that coached executives whose compensation was based on performance had 50% higher raises than colleagues who weren’t receiving coaching.

In the February 19, 2001 issue of Fortune Magazine, Anne Fisher cited a study of the return on investment from coaching. Executives from Fortune 1,000 companies who had been coached between six and twelve months, described an average return of $100,000 from their improved performances as a result of coaching, which was approximately six times the average cost of the coaching provided.

These studies are part of a large body of research which defines and measures the benefits to organizations who hire coaches for their managers and executives. In addition to the widely accepted benefits of coaching, there are also particular benefit for arts organizations.

Why Coach Arts Managers?
Coaching is proven to benefit the organizations in all industries whose managers and executives have been coached. Aside from that, there are circumstances that are specific to the Arts, which invite coaching opportunities. Many Arts managers are artists or creators who have taken on administrative responsibilities out of necessity. Many prove to be quite adept managers, though this lack of formal management training reveals an opportunity to expand and fortify administrators’ “management toolkits”.

Arts administrators also often work under generally stressful circumstances. As we know, working long hours, stretching inadequate resources and wearing many management hats simultaneously, are routine for many Arts managers, across all disciplines. Arts managers are frequently required to be adept at both creative “right-brain” competencies and logical “left-brain” competencies. CEOs in the Arts typically report to a board of part-time volunteers. All of these circumstances lend themselves well to benefit from coaching.

Coaching and Consulting – A Comparison
Both Coaching and Consulting help build clients’ capacities by sharing insights and expertise. Beyond that are other similarities and differences, summarized in this table:





Capacity Building

  • Builds capacity through recommendations and plans delivered to an entire organization or group, at the end of a process.
  • Builds capacity of individual managers or groups, which in turn builds the capacities of the organizations where they work.




  • Consultants work with clients to address an explicit situation, and then the clients enact specific plans or recommendations.
  • Usually for the benefit of a group or whole organization.
  • Coaches work in private with clients to address improvement on specific areas or of general competency.
  • Usually focused on one manager/ executive at a time, though it also works with groups.


  • Generally 1 to 6 months
  • Generally 3 to 12 months




Services Provided

  • Provide expertise and insight not available internally.
  • Leave the organization with enhanced capacity.
  • Identify practices/ policies that improve clients’ effectiveness.
  • Provide expertise and insight not available individually.
  • Leave the client (and by transference, their organization) with enhanced capacity.
  • Identify and entrench practices/ policies that improve clients’ effectiveness.
  • Can bridge the competency gap   between planning and implementation, where many organizations stumble.





  • Clients do not always have sufficient resources/expertise to successfully act on consultants’ plans and recommendations.
  • Consultants are typically not involved in implementation.
  • Other factors that lay outside the scope of the specific consulting project can hamper its success.
  • Clients who have severe behavioural problems, have fundamentally different values from their organization or have an inability to examine or adapt their practices do not usually respond to coaching.


Frequency of Client Contact

  • Limited to the specific tasks in the contract, with intermittent additional contact for communications and information gathering purposes.
  • Regularly and frequently occurring throughout the period of the contract, with further intermittent contact as needed.

CASE STUDY: Greater Sudbury’s Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario: An Innovative Leader in Audience Development

Denis J. Bertrand, Audience Development Expert for the Arts and 50 Carleton Associate |

The Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO) is Greater Sudbury’s 42-year old French-language professional theatre company. It presents new Franco-Ontarian, French-Canadian and Canadian works. In 2005, Geneviève Pineault, its new Artistic Director, noticed that TNO season subscriptions were down, as well as its overall attendance. She felt that more people should be interested in the TNO’s offering and, as such, enjoy greater support. After all, the company had a rich history and many of its productions and associated artists had won prestigious national awards throughout the years. TNO productions toured the country and even went to Europe. So why weren’t there more local subscribers?

To remedy the problem, Pineault called upon 50 Carleton, a Sudbury-based marketing firm, to develop a new brand and communications plan. As a result, the TNO undertook new audience development strategies that have paid off ever since.

The first step the company took to reach new consumers was to target individuals and groups most likely to be interested in its product instead of trying to reach the local francophone community as a whole.  These potential audience members were identified through their shared professional, personal or civic interests with the TNO. The organization also invited its loyal patrons to spread the word about the TNO to like-minded individuals in their entourage who were familiar in some way with the company or interested in the arts, but who didn’t subscribe to the TNO’s seasons or attend its performances regularly. Those loyal patrons became the organization’s ambassadors in the community. TNO Board members were asked to recruit four new subscribers each annually. Aided by a marketing campaign that presented live theatre as an accessible and more interesting alternative to “boring” television programs, attendance at the TNO went up by 19% as early as the following season.         

The TNO continued to innovate by becoming one of the first francophone arts organizations in Canada to use a nascent social media called Facebook to promote its activities. It even started its own blog to give detailed information on its events and programming.

The theatrical experience provided by the TNO to its patrons wasn’t confined to the stage. As soon as theatre lovers walked through its doors, they were immersed in the universe of that evening’s performance through the use of thematic music, drinks, food and embellishments to its foyer. Pineault is almost always on hand, every night, to personally welcome her guests. On one memorable occasion, TNO staff members handed out cretons sandwiches to departing patrons because the food item was featured in that evening’s play. Although used only sparingly, such post-performance handouts act as reminders of the good time patrons experience when the go to the TNO. Now, spectators look forward to what the company has in store for them when a new production opens.

More recently, the TNO created a Web site to introduce children, their parents and teachers to theatre. Called Oh ! Théâtre, the site features games and information on what to expect when you attend a play.

The company has also reached out to smaller francophone communities located within a 100 km radius of Greater Sudbury to encourage them to attend its performances. Micro season launches have been held in targeted communities and the TNO has initiated 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays, so patrons coming from within or outside of the radius have time to travel, shop, dine and take in the sites while attending a performance in Sudbury.     

During the spring of 2011 and the following 2011-2012 season, the TNO introduced English-language supertitles for some of the plays featured in its adult series so that English-speaking patrons could discover and enjoy French-language theatre. The company is now developing a whole new market and has garnered a great deal of attention by doing so.

All of these initiatives are but an overview of what the TNO has undertaken to reach new audiences and ensure patron loyalty. And as mentioned, it has paid off. Attendance and subscriptions to the TNO have increased by 98% from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013.  The TNO welcomed some 300 new spectators over a three-year period (2009-2012). With season attendance rates averaging around 95% over the last few years, the TNO added additional performances to its adult series in 2011-2012 and was still able to maintain its 95% average in 2012-2013. Thirty-two per cent (32%) of season subscriptions were sold last year to first-time buyers. Meanwhile, 98% of audience members thought that the 2012-2013 season was either excellent or very good.

To obtain such results, the TNO has maintained some traditional marketing (media advertising, posters, etc.) and embraced social and viral marketing by communicating directly with potential customers. It has targeted specific people, groups and communities by talking to them, by offering them a full experience when they set foot in its venue and by keeping in touch with them through its e-newsletter, social media and repeat visits. 50 Carleton leads an annual brainstorming session for all TNO staff members during which audiences are identified for the whole season and for each production, as well as thematic activities to enhance the patrons’ experience. All of these initiatives may seem mundane today, but when the TNO started using them way back in 2005-2006, it was, without a doubt, as a pioneer in the field. Today, the company continues to reap the benefit of its investments in audience development and seeks new opportunities and means to innovate.

For more information, please contact Denis J. Bertrand at 705 673 7385, or

Employee or Self-Employed? HR story highlights hazards

Heather Young, Young Associates | 

From time to time I will share stories from the field – names and details obscured!

One company went through a nerve-wracking time when a former worker – who had been hired on a fee-for-service contract as a freelance consultant – tried to claim EI and insisted to the folks at HRSDC that s/he had been an employee.

The government responded by notifying the company that they were responsible for remitting both the employer and the employee portions of EI and CPP for the duration of the contract. It was up to the company to appeal this decision, and prove that the worker had been properly treated as a freelancer.

To help the organization prepare its appeal, the government provided a lengthy questionnaire, much of it based on concepts you can read about in the CRA publication Employee or Self-employed?, published online.

The company also did some research, including checking the former worker’s social networking activities, where the individual clearly self-identified as a consultant for hire. It’s unclear whether that influenced the happy ending – but I can tell you that in at least one comparable case the defendant’s Facebook page did him in.

After many hours of work and months of waiting, the company finally received the happy news that their appeal was successful.

The CRA ruling made a strong effort to be balanced, stating that “the parties did not share a common intention as to the worker’s employment status” – although the company feels the status was always clear.  It outlined all the terms of employment in some detail, noting that the level of “control”, or supervision, of the employee and ownership of tools and equipment were neutral factors – they could have been interpreted to either party’s benefit. The fact that the worker was providing services personally and was not able to subcontract assigned work was deemed  consistent with the worker’s contention that s/he was an employee, but  the fact that the worker was free to take on other projects for personal profit, and promoted him/herself as a freelance communication consultant suggested to the CRA that s/he was “embarking on a business enterprise on his/her own account.”  Weighing all factors, the CRA ruled in the company’s favour: but in reading the written ruling, it looks like it was a close call.

Arts organizations and charities secure all sorts of services on part-time, part-year contracts. It’s worth the effort to research how a particular position should be treated (employee or self-employed?), and to be crystal-clear with the worker both verbally and in a written contract.

W. I. F. M. (What’s In It for Members?)

Jerry Smith, GM, First Stage | 

Recent strategic planning efforts by the Arts Consultants Canada’s Board of Directors resulted in a sharpened focus on its mission (To advance and promote ethical, excellent and effective consulting in Canada’s arts and culture sector.); not only would ACCA respond to the professional development needs of its membership – current and potential – but it would also shine that light of experience on the ongoing health and development of the sector. To respond to these two goals, ACCA has been using a combination of strategic approaches, including professional development for members and the sector, as well as networking events.

Membership survey responses confirmed that member and supporter needs were demanding, complex and varied; thus, the Programming Committee has responded over past seasons with a mixture of “big picture” issues (e. g. “Blurring Lines Between Commercial and NFP,” “Where is the Next Generation of Arts Manager,” and the most recent “Online Seminar on the New Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act .”), networking and knowledge sharing, and skill development (“Your Consulting Practise and Social Media”). These topics have been developed and delivered through a mixture of online webinars, guest speakers/panels, and networking. (Members can access notes/slides/videocasts HERE)

Recently, under the direction of ACCA stalwarts Jennifer Murray and Debra Chandler, Toronto/GTA members enjoyed the opportunity of participating in a pilot ‘Knowledge Exchange / Networking’ event. In a relaxed setting (i. E. bar), several key themes were explored around consultants and their practise: “How to Monetize My Expertise?” and “Collaborating/Partnering on RFPs re Strategic Plans;” “Managing Projects with Multiple Bosses (including Volunteer Committees” generated ideas, and a few laughs as well. Feedback from the event generated “terrific camaraderie, the absolute desire to continue this dialogue in similar events, and the sense that there is help available to enhance members’ current strengths and opportunities.

The Board of ACCA is committed to being responsible, and responsive; watch your inboxes for an upcoming membership Survey Monkey link, and tell us what to do.

Editor’s Message, Spring 2013

Michael Malone, Principal, Cerulian | 

Greetings! As the Editor of this first periodical Arts Consultants Canada/Consultants canadiens en arts eBulletin I hope that you will find the excellent information provided within to be of assistance to your consulting practice, the management of your arts organization and to keeping you abreast of arts management issues and practices in Canada.

For this initial publication we are pleased to include an ACCA President’s Message from Jenny Ginder; an overview of ACCA programming initiatives by Jerry Smith, Chair of ACCA Programming Committee; informative and timely articles from Louise Poulin, Jay Katz and Heather Young; a case study by Denis Bertrand about one of his recent projects with the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario; and in the Member News we’re pleased to highlight the recent publication by Lidia Varbanova, Strategic Management in the Arts.

Besides these contributors this initiative would have not been possible without the support for layout and distribution by Signe Barlow and Sue Edworthy and special thanks must go out to Louise Poulin who encouraged our creation of a French version and supported it by translating most of articles. The publication of this new communication was a significant accomplishment for our volunteer team and distributing in both official languages truly allows ACCA to fulfill its national mandate.

As this is our first issue we hope that you will provide us with your opinions about the type of information included and provide us with your related content for future issues. If you have news or announcements; or if you would like to submit a case study or article, please submit a brief summary to by August 19, 2013.

We welcome your input and hope that as arts consultants you will find this publication useful for your practice and your clients; or as arts mangers it will assist you to incorporate best practices within your arts organizations. Please help us extend the expertise provided by distributing this publication to your clients or other arts organizations and encourage their subscription.

President’s Message, Spring 2013

Jenny Ginder, Ginder Consulting | 

This, our first newsletter, is an important step in ACCA’s development as a professional association and a reflection of our desire to strengthen our ties with consultants and clients.

Our mission is to advance and promote ethical, excellent and effective consulting in Canada’s arts and culture sector. We now have almost 60 consultant members who share this mission, ready to put their professional expertise to work to strengthen the sector. So I have two suggestions:

  • To all consultants, if you are not a member, and meet the criteria please consider joining this growing association of your peers.
  • To all arts organizations, government agencies and foundations, if you are looking for a consultant, check out our searchable database of members to find the consultant with the skills and expertise you require. Also, if you have a RFP, send it to us at and we will distribute it to the membership to ensure you have a robust and informed response.

ACCA’s vision is to be the nexus for arts consulting practice in Canada. With our professional development program, networking events, website and other communications strategies we are well on our way to realizing this vision.

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