Janis A. Barlow & Associates serves cultural, arts and heritage organizations, not-for-profit agencies, membership organizations, proprietors of public assembly places and community steering committees.

The firm has provided consulting and project management services to a number of clients in the Ontario provincial government as well as municipalities throughout North America.

Many of the firm’s assignments have been funded by arts councils, development agencies and foundations throughout Canada and the United States.  In addition, Janis A. Barlow & Associates has provided services to the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council Foundation.

Washington Theatre, Quincy, Illinois, 2006

One of the best little art towns in America, Quincy lies on the banks of the Mississippi in West Central Illinois and is known for its historic residential architecture. The City currently owns the historic Washington Theater, which served as a vaudeville and movie house until its closure about twenty years ago.

The Washington Theater Redevelopment Commission, a special ad-hoc committee of the city of Quincy, retained Janis Barlow and Dulcie Gilmore in 2005 at the suggestion of theatre preservation architect Killis Almond, FAIA, to undertake the market, needs and business-planning phase of a feasibility study for the historic Washington Theater (circa 1927; seating approximately 1,200).

Although Quincy is well served by a contemporary community theatre seating 500 and an historic high school auditorium seating 2,000, the team discovered that the Washington Theater could serve a previously unidentified need for a regional presenting facility, a mid-sized place of public assembly and downtown historic interpretive centre.

Beacon Theatre, Hopewell, Virginia, 1997

The Beacon Theatre is a 750 seat historic theatre with a storefront property. It has been closed for almost two decades.

Together with Killis Almond, Jr., AIA Architect, Janis A. Barlow undertook a preliminary feasibility study in 1997 of market conditions, potential program options and an operating business plan. Designs and cost estimates were provided for front-of-house, backstage and lobby renovations and additions to be developed on a phased basis.

Retained by a preservation rather than an arts group, the consultants orchestrated site visits to the Barter, the Paramount and the Lincoln theatres in Virginia to educate the client group with respect to programming choices, project development options, operational issues and the need for a professional executive director to execute the business plan.

Killis Almond is currently completing an architectural master plan based on schematics developed in the feasibility study phase.

The Factory Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, 1996

In 1996 Janis Barlow was Interim General Manager for the Factory Theatre, a 28-year old resident company whose mandate is to produce new Canadian plays. Plagued by years of annual deficits, the company was struggling under a debt-load of almost half its annual operating budget. The Factory Theatre’s facility was a rented Victorian mansion that had been converted in 1984 to house two performance facilities, a 230-seat mainstage and a 100-seat cabaret space.

J. Barlow undertook extensive organizational assessments and strategic planning sessions with the staff and board, and developed a five-year business plan to stabilize the company. With the assistance of Interim Administrator/Associate Director Rebecca Cann, J. Barlow guided the company through a critical period of artistic, financial and organizational instability, solidified relations with key stakeholders, and provided a critical assessment of facility and infrastructure issues.

As a final solution, the company unanimously approved the re-appointment of the founding artistic director, Ken Gass, who is shepherding a remarkable artistic and financial recovery.

Alexander Street Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, 1997

Janis Barlow and Rebecca Cann were hired by the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council in 1997 to review management and facility operations and provide recommendations for the Alexander Street Theatre in Toronto. Located in the downtown core, the facility has two performing spaces, a mainstage of 240 seats and a cabaret space of 100. It is the oldest alternative theatre venue in the city, is currently owned by the City of Toronto and is managed by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Co.

Facility infrastructure issues had to be addressed within the context of the study. Governance and management structure, operating costs, funding and community use and needs were all issues that impacted on the management of the facility.

With associates Rebecca Cann and Jennifer Walker, J. Barlow undertook an extensive survey of performing arts users and key performing arts facilities in Toronto that were comparable to the Alexander Street Theatre. The analysis of this research provided the Alexander Street Theatre’s operating company with a new and informed perspective on their facility and its operations while providing the Arts Councils with contextual and statistical information with which future policies and programs can be implemented.

A Cultural Strategic Plan for Martinsburg and Berkeley County, West Virginia, 2000

During the winter of 1999 / 2000, the community of Martinsburg worked together in developing a Cultural Strategic Plan, facilitated by Janis A. Barlow & Associates. While the core of the Plan is a framework for growth in the cultural sector, its impact encompasses the downtown core, and indeed, the entire city.

First and foremost, the Plan articulates and communicates the broad cultural needs around which people can rally. It establishes a common direction and encourages cultural partnerships, collaboration and linkages that will help to guide thoughtful planning in the future.

Martinsburg has a long tradition of activity in the cultural area, broadly defined as the arts, contemporary practices and long-standing tradition, history, recreation, and preservation of the community and of it significant built heritage.

For Martinsburg, its Cultural Strategic Plan incorporates an additional dimension. Like cities throughout North America that have initiated carefully planned cultural developments as catalysts for downtown revitalization and cultural tourism, Martinsburg believes that substantial benefits will be felt by the entire community. Among these are the development of innovation-based micro-economies; residential and business growth in the downtown core; a safe and more harmonious community and a healthy climate for business in the downtown.

City of Barrie, Ontario, 2000

The general purpose of the study was to ascertain how best the City of Barrie could address the current and future requirements of the City’s performing arts community. The specific objectives of the study were: to complete a comprehensive user group needs assessment; to review adaptive reuse opportunities against user group needs; to determine the most viable adaptive reuse option(s); to determine the most viable new design option(s); to identify the pros and cons of the most viable options; to recommend the best alternative and develop action and business plans; and to provide capital and operating budgets for a five year period.

The study examined existing performing spaces and concluded that a new performing arts centre would be required to serve the needs of the rapidly growing city. Janis Barlow worked with architect Peter Smith who developed a footprint for a complex containing a 1,200-seat facility, a 400-600 seat facility and rehearsal space and several sites were evaluated.

Arts Hamilton, Ontario, 2011

It was observed that Arts Hamilton, like many Arts Councils around Ontario, has been very active in offering a range of programs and special events as well as advisory and administrative support services to arts organizations and individual artists.   Prior to initiating the consulting assignment, the organization experienced personnel changes and the Board assumed more of a management role in the organization.  It was found that the Arts Hamilton vision to be a “spark for artistic innovation and community connectivity” and mission, “engaging Hamilton through the celebration of our arts and culture,” were not sufficiently clear or specific to guide the Board in making strategic choices about Arts Hamilton, nor did they speak to the core constituency of Arts Hamilton.  It was also determined that it would be useful to review and clarify the kinds of roles that local Arts Councils play in Ontario communities and the specific roles that Arts Hamilton can play in a community that is served by both a municipal Culture office and an Arts Advisory Commission.  This organizational assessment process was undertaken to provide assistance in:

  • Determining community perceptions of need for the Hamilton Arts Council and its current and potential services;
  • Analyzing the issues and factors influencing Arts Hamilton’s long term viability; and
  • Recommending a framework for a long term strategic plan and further steps toward execution.

League of Historic American Theatres, 1994-1995

Janis Barlow assisted with the development of the League’s business plan in 1994 and facilitated a strategic planning process for the League in 1995. Since then, Ms. Barlow has provided consultation on strategic planning process to help the leadership of the League explore and determine new opportunities for the organization.