I recently attended Aida, a musical with lyrics written by Tim Rice, one the world’s most renowned lyricists with familiar cinema and Broadway hits such as The Lion King, Evita, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and scores of others. His songs are intense and emotional. Put that together with the likes of composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, or Elton John for Aida, and you have a memorable musical experience.
The performance of Aida that I enjoyed was indeed memorable. Actors sung these world-renowned tunes with purity of voice and intense emotion. The sets and costumes were elaborate and the atmosphere electric as the audience hung on to each note in breathless anticipation. It was Broadway at its finest – in Bashaw!
The staging of Aida by the Bashaw Community Theatre was a small-town affair. With a population of just over 800, it is fair to say that someone from just about every walk of life was in the play. Arching across all age groups, the cast and crew were a reflection of dedicated folks who did this not just for fun, but for the betterment of their community. Of course there are many other great things to do and see in Bashaw. The focus of the district agricultural society on youth and family has brought thousands of participants in cattle shows to the agricultural grounds. It is an historical town, with residents proud of an economy built on beef, dairy and grain. And, like many other small communities in Alberta, the occupants of Bashaw and the surrounding area are finding ways to attract newcomers and showcase the talent, enthusiasm, compassion and opportunity that living in a small town can capture.
Where’s the same passion?
As I reflected on the energy and commitment of the actors I wondered how the scene was playing out in the beef industry. If we stepped out of our shoes and became the audience, what would we see? It takes a raw passion to leave an audience breathless. Does the beef industry live this passion, leaving our customers in excited anticipation? Or, is its grovelling, infighting and uncertainty a reflection of its own disbelief, or worse, has it seeded an expectation that the audience should entertain themselves?
With every resource at its disposal, the beef industry is running out of excuses. It most certainly has lost its audience with domestic per capita consumption failing and export clients hiding behind dubious technicalities. With one of the world’s most stable economies, the stage lights should be on Canada, and especially on Alberta.
When the lights come on, is there a scent of entitlement that often morphs in old established industries, such as beef? The “I am in the cattle business, live in Alberta and can walk on water” sense of ownership? If economies were static, then perhaps one could eventually make that claim. But all economies continuously evolve and in doing so, challenge every aspect of our production, processing and marketing on a daily basis. This is what makes the industry exciting, challenging and attractive. It begs for new entrants with great and unusual ideas, enticing those passionate individuals that are not afraid to step out of the stereotype – just as those actors who wear makeup and Egyptian skirts on stage.
Is the beef industry truly open to this change and more importantly, is it fostering these hidden talents? If a director and producer in a small town can successfully create a large cast for a Tim Rice musical and empower them to own the stage, then why can’t beef fill the house?
The answer lies in those we serve. Building a gothic theatre will not bring in the audience, just as a church is not a church without a congregation. By focusing on the client and the consumer and filling their needs, we start to fill the seats and that generates its own enthusiasm.
The world is constantly evolving and the theatre, even the small-town theatre, is the one platform that understands this. These are the lessons from small towns (and small-town theatre groups). Success it built on service, commitment, passion and a strong desire to make a difference. Like a Tim Rice lyric, they are rich and complex and rip open the doors to infinite possibilities.
BrendaSchoeppisamarketanalystandtheownerandauthorofBeeflink,anationalbeefcattlemarketnewsletter.Aprofessionalspeakerandindustrymarketandresearchconsultant,sheranchesnearRimbey,Alberta. [email protected]
Isthebeefindustry trulyopentothis changeandmore importantly,isit fosteringthesehidden talents?