the small town podcast: Season 1

Welcome to the small town podcast, a resource for arts administrators, artists, and not-for-profit organizations across many disciplines. This series was produced by Becka Viau. and features host Sara Roach-Lewis interviewing a wide range arts professionals from across Prince Edward Island to discuss topics including stress, board governance, sponsorship and many more.

Episodes are released weekly, along with supplemental material provided by the guests to be used as an extended resource. We hope you learn something you didn’t know before from listening to these conversations.

Episode 1: Weathering the storm with Sara Roach-Lewis

About this Episode:

On this episode, host Sara Roach-Lewis talks about weathering the storm when there’s too much to do and how to decompress when it passes by.

Sara Roach-Lewis has more than 15 years’ experience working in the not-for-profit sector, most notably with Women’s Network where she started as a board member, then board chair, moving to paid employment at WNPEI in 2008. She progressed from project coordinator to project management and was in the Executive Director role for three years.

She is now a Business Strategist and Coach who helps business owners grow their businesses sustainability and profitably, using business strategy and teaching tools for being more effective and efficient.

Sara is a skilled facilitator, researcher, writer, curriculum developer and project manager.  A life long learner, she holds a degree in Psychology from Mount Allison University, journalism and business administration diplomas and a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) from UPEI. 

She was one of 25 women chosen from across the country to participate in the Canadian Women’s Foundation Women’s Leadership Institute in collaboration with the Coady Institute in Antigonish, NS.  Through two residencies as well as distance education, the year long program is designed to increase the leadership capacity of not-for-profit organizations across the country, including governance, board training and stewardship.

Episode 2: Board Governance with
Hannah Bell

About this Episode

On this episode, guest Hannah Bell talks with Sara Roach-Lewis about Board Governance.

Hannah Bell was elected as the MLA for District 11: Charlottetown-Parkdale in a by-election on November 27, 2017 and re-elected for District 11: Charlottetown-Belvedere on April 23 2019. She serves as the Critic for Social Development and Housing, and as Official Opposition House Leader.

Hannah Bell holds an MBA in Innovative Management from UPEI, and has 30 years of varied experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in Canada and the UK. Prior to being elected, she served as Executive Director of the PEI Business Women’s Association for 5 years. Hannah Bell is the owner of consultancy firm ‘The Solution Agency’, helping businesses build capacity and influence change through the power of storytelling, practical training and skills development, strategic planning and partnerships, and sustainable project design.

Hannah Bell is a community leader locally and nationally – as Board President and Chair at The Guild for 5 years, representing the province as governor with National Trust Canada, and as champion for Startup Charlottetown, part of the Startup Canada entrepreneurs network.

She lives in Parkdale with her daughter Ava and her mother Judith.


Source for non-profit Board Governance including multiple sources and clear plain language overviews:

Resource on volunteer recruitment and training:

Board Roles and Responsiblities:

Primer for Directors of Non-Profit Corporations (book in pdf format):$FILE/Primer_en.pdf

A sample privacy policy document:

A marketing/comms strategy guide:

A Fiduciary Responsibility questionaire:

A sample board member job description:

Episode 3: Policy with Mark Sandiford and Rob Oakie

About this Episode

On this episode, guests Mark Sandiford and Rob Oakie talk with Sarah Roach-Lewis about what good policy looks like and how to get started if you don’t have any in place.

Mark Sandiford is Executive Director of CreativePEI, the sector council for the creative industries on PEI. Mark has served on a lot of boards over the years. He is currently chair of Art in the Open, vice-chair of FilmPEI, secretary of VideogamesPEI and member at large at Discover Charlottetown.

Mark is a documentary filmmaker by trade and worked for many years as a producer with CBC TV, mostly in the North. Mark’s film “Qallunaat! Why White People are Funny” won a special Gemini award for best reflection of Canada’s racial and cultural diversity in 2008. It is consistently one of the highest viewed films on the NFB’s website and was ranked among their top ten films of the 2000’s.

Currently the Executive Director and co-founder of Music PEI, Rob Oakie has been instrumental in the current growth of PEI’s music industry. Since helping to establish the organisation in 2008 the number of PEI exporting and internationally touring artists has grown by over 400%.

Prior to heading up Music PEI, Rob had spent 10 years developing exports of PEI’s building material sector internationally in 9 countries and marketing Anne of Green Gables homes in Japan. Rob used that export development experience to help establish PEI as a major Canadian exporter of music.

Under Rob’s guidance Music PEI has developed an effective grant program for the music industry distributing close to $100,000 per year helping to leverage private sector investment of close to 3 times that amount along with numerous other development programs.

Rob has been the Executive Producer of Music PEI Week since 2006 overseeing the creative and logistics of an annual event presenting showcases, concerts and an awards program. Music PEI has also created two internationally recognised conferences, Showcase PEI and the Canadian Song Conference as well as Artist Exchange Programs with the England, Denmark and Wales.

Since 2014 Rob has produced the Classic Music Reignited Series at the Watermark Theatre and is also a mandolinist when time allows.

Episode 4: Volunteer Engagement & Community Organizing with Anna Keenan

About this Episode

On this episode, guest Anna Keenan talks with Sara Roach-Lewis about managing volunteers and how to involve the community more in your non-profit.

Anna Keenan moved to PEI in 2015 with her island-born partner, and dived straight into the deep end of the island’s political scene. In 2016 she was Campaign Director for the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation, and she served 2 years as President of the Provincial Green Party, overseeing a major growth period for the organization. Professionally, she now works from via high-speed internet from her home-office in New Glasgow, as Community Manager for international climate advocacy organization She has over a decade of experience in organizing and mobilising in activist social movements, including 5 years working with Greenpeace International as part of their International Volunteering Laboratory. Anna Keenan has worked as a community organizer in international climate-change advocacy organizations, including Greenpeace International and, currently, for 12 years. Since arriving on PEI she has served as Campaign Director for the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation and President of the Green Party of PEI. She teaches dance classes with Swing Out East! in Charlottetown on Wednesday nights, and is one of the stilt walking crew in the annual outdoor theatre production, the River Clyde Pageant. She lives nearby New Glasgow with her partner Robert and 3-year-old son Oscar.


Social Media Links:

Links to all resources/organizations mentioned in the interview:…

Episode 5: Sponsorship with Kathryn Nazim

About this Episode

On this episode, guest Kathryn Nazim speaks with Sara Roach-Lewis about approaching sponsors and good practices for retaining support over multiple projects.

Kathryn Nazim is a PEI-based writer and sponsorship coordinator for several non-profit Island events. Although she has called Edinburgh, Montreal and Kuala Lumpur home over the past eleven years, PEI has always pulled at her heartstrings and four years ago, she finally answered its siren song and moved back to the Island permanently. She holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature & Creative Writing from Concordia University and was last year’s winner for the Island Literary Award for creative non-fiction. She spends her rare spare time trying to finish several writing projects at once and chasing after her toddler.

Art in the Open website:

Episode 6: The professionalization of the artist w/ Becka Viau & Pan Wendt

About this Episode

On this episode, Becka Viau & Pan Wendt discuss the professionalization of the artist, the challenges of making art in Prince Edward Island, and riding the balance between making art and applying for grants.

Becka Viau, BFA, MFA, M.S.M., is an artistic leader celebrated for her capacity to manage multi venue and interdisciplinary events, engage various levels of government through fundraising and partnerships. She pushes the boundaries of artist as manager and thrives in the role of a multi disciplinary festival artistic director. She has extensive experience managing and coordinating multi-venue events including, but not limited to, Flotilla 2017, Art in the Open, Reading Town PEI, the Island Literary Awards. Her collaborative approach is key to her successes and her ability to build focused teams and reach varied audiences allows her to communicate across a broad funding base. Specializing in multi-disciplinary program and event development, she has created and lead teams as a curator, educator, project manager/coordinator and artistic director of arts collectives, artist run non-profit organizations and contemporary art festivals and events. Becka believes in the social impact of connecting people to and fostering the creation and dissemination of a high standard of contemporary art and critical discourse.

Pan Wendt has been Curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, P.E.I. since 2010, and Co-curator of Art in the Open since its inception in 2011. Aside from his curatorial practice he is a critic, writer, art historian, and event producer, and he is currently teaching art history at U.P.E.I. He was trained as an art historian at Williams College (BA and MA) and Yale University (MA and MPhil). He has published widely, and has served on numerous national juries, including the Sobey Art Award, RBC National Painting Competition, and Canada Council of the Arts. Notable exhibition projects include Funkaesthetics; Hank Bull:Connexion; James Lee Byars: Letters from the World’s Most Famous Unknown Artist; Who’s Your Mother?; and Colleen Wolstenholme: A Divided Room.


Becka Viau’s CV:

The conversation about professionalization of artists presented at the bi-annual Artist Run Centre Conference in Vancouver, Institutions by Artists:

Episode 7: Stress with Louise Carota

About this Episode

On this episode, guest Louise Carota talks with Sara Roach-Lewis about how to better manage stress and how to take care of yourself when things become too much.

Artist Louise Carota was raised in California as one of nineteen children. Her parents had six of their own and adopted thirteen. She was home schooled and traveled around a lot – mostly in a school bus. While still young she moved to Canada with her family, to Ottawa and then Prince Edward Island, first for the summers and then permanently. During her teen years, she studied painting and sculpture in Italy. Later she moved back to Ottawa to raise her daughter. As an artist she is best known as the sculptor of two statues in the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial in front of city hall.

Returning home to the island 6 years ago, Louise has lived a wide variety of experiences including being a Reiki healer, a video producer and editor. For seventeen years she did daycare out of her home in Ottawa, gaining major insights into the human psyche. For her being in the zone when painting, playing sports and giving Reiki, is second nature, so moving deeper into meditation, was the next natural step. Many people Louise talked to were also interested in learning how to meditate, which lead to the development of a four-part series “Meditation and Your Brain” which she taught two years ago at the Spirituality Centre in Charlottetown. The positive feedback from that course inspired the Stress Relief Workshops that are filled with sound principles and techniques to increase emotional resilience. Her approach is simple; rather than trying to change things beyond your control, learn to adjust your reaction.


Louise Carota’s Website:

Episode 8 | Artists need Money: How, What, and Why

About this Episode

The final episode of the small town podcast is a recording of a live round table discussion hosted by Upstreet Brewing Company.


Shannon Pratt (Innovation PEI Department of Cultural Development)

Pan Wendt (Curator – Confederation Centre Art Gallery)

Rob Oakie (executive Director Music PEI)

Renee Laprise (Executive Director of Film PEI)

Audio engineer and post production by Devon Ross theme music by Russell Louder


Grant Writing 101:

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