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Pat The Dog theatre company presents their idea for a podcast featuring new Canadian playwrights. Photo by Billy Lee/ Belight

TWG Receives 2015 Toronto Arts & Business Award

The Working Group (TWG) has been chosen as the 2015 recipient of the Toronto Arts and Business Award.

Organized by the Toronto Arts Foundation, the award is presented annually at the Mayor’s Art Lunch. It celebrates a local business that has sponsored the arts for the first time and is making an important contribution to the arts in Toronto through innovative, transformative and entrepreneurial partnerships. Established in 2006, this award is presented in partnership with Toronto Arts Foundation, Business for the Arts and The Toronto Star. Previous award winners include Sun Life Financial, TD Bank, BMO Financial Group and Scotiabank.

LEANARTS: For Performing Arts Startups

The award was given in recognition of TWG’s LEANARTS program. Designed and delivered by TWG under the guidance of Canada’s Performing Arts Alliance, in association with MaRS, LEANARTS introduced 10 independent performing arts organizations to the world of the Lean Startup. Teams were introduced to a variety of early-stage business concepts and matched with expert mentors from both the technology and art sectors.

The program, the first of its kind, culminated in a demo night where teams presented their projects to a panel of expert judges and funders. CBC’s Spark was in attendance. Listen to the segment.


The LEANARTS project team. Photo by Billy Lee/ Belight

The LEANARTS project team: L2R – Tom Walsham (Director of Product, TWG), Holly Knowlman (Marketing & Partnerships Lead, TWG), Bart Van De Kooij (Co-Founder, MiniBrew), Christina Loewen (Executive Director, Photo by Billy Lee/ Belight Photo by Billy Lee/ Belight 

Over five weeks, teams from a variety of performing arts disciplines worked with experienced mentors and instructors to shape project ideas by applying startup techniques focussed on customer validated feedback and learning. The winning team was a a startup opera company called Liederwolfe, who impressed judges with their unique audience building project “The Opera Peep Show”.

A ticket to the show gains audience members access to a hotel bar and opera sampler. From there, they can choose their own experience by making micro-payments to obtain keys to various opera company-themed rooms to explore and discover the diversity of opera presentation in the city in short format. Liederwolfe had their start in Montreal by two students out of McGill, Francesca Perez and Lindsay Michael, who recently moved to Toronto. Opera Peep Show will be their inaugural Toronto event. Lindsay and Francesca have both been invited to attend the Banff Opera Colloquium as well as Startup Weekend Montreal.

The program was made possible thanks to the contributions of numerous amazing mentors, and instructors. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to the program, including: Bart Van De Kooij, Tom Walsham, Christina Loewen, Katie Chase, Nathan Monk, Jeff Goldenberg, Chris Kay, Marco Petkovski, Michael Schwanzer, Allison Hillier, Warren Garrett and Jane Marsland. We couldn’t have done it without you! 


For more information please contact Holly Knowlman, TWG’s Marketing Lead & LEANARTS Program Director:

About TWG

TWG is a Digital Product Studio located in Toronto. We are designers, developers, and business-thinkers with a mission to work with visionary teams and craft remarkable products. We believe in doing right – by our clients and partners, by our community, and by each other. Get in touch to find out more, or join our mailing list

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