Friday, June 27, 2008

To GRAND or not to GRAND

Since making the GRAND theatre our home in 2005, we've wrestled with ideas of what to name the historic downtown building. Originally we thought to keep it The GRAND since that's what everyone in Calgary has come to know it by. We even named our website ATTHEGRAND.CA But ever since we bought the building and raised millions to restore it back to Calgary's 'Culturehouse', we were thinking...

Perhaps it makes sense for us to leverage our own company name. Hence, last year's name change to Theatre Junction at the GRAND. While it explained who we were and where we lived, the venue name itself was left the same. Thus, nothing really changed.

So did we ever really have a problem or did we just create one in our heads? Were the struggles with branding that we thought to conquer - justified? After all, the building has always been a Calgary (and Western Canada to boot) landmark, and ever since it was built in 1912 it always remained GRAND in some capacity. Should we dare change this?

While Theatre Junction at the GRAND seemed to be a temporary branding solution, problems did indeed arise. First, it was a little long and a bit of a mouthful. We grew tired of always saying, "Hi, I'm So And So from Theatre Junction at The GRAND." Eventually and expectedly, we became either from "Theatre Junction" or "The GRAND". One or the other got lost, leaving little to zero consistency. Ambiguity amassed. Secondly, it did little in raising awareness that Theatre Junction owns and operates this fabulously renovated theatre, ideal for the art we've been presenting - multidisciplinary and diverse. While we made it our mandate to introduce Calgary to the World's best in contemporary art and produce thought provoking New Creation, we still felt shadowed by the venue itself, with all its historic and grandiose charm.

When we began the restoration project, and unlike the multiplex movie theatre and golf domes of the past which moved in and out over the years, Theatre Junction was determined to preserve as much of the original theatre as possible. Take a look at our entrance and you may wonder if we're still in the process of fixin 'er up (To clarify, our indoor restoration is complete and keeping the holes from the original ceiling as well as choosing the half-modern-half-authentic walls were part of the plan. As for the ongoing outside construction, that's a whole other beast).

That being said, we recently made the tough decision. We renamed the building, our breeding ground, our home. We chose the best of both worlds.

Theatre Junction GRAND was unveiled recently as the name of the venue and while we know it will be a challenge for our patrons, partners, the press, media, and the people of Calgary to forget "The GRAND or GRAND Theatre", we believe we made the right decision. We like to think of it as naming our new baby after a deceased, but whose presence is always felt, GRANDparent.

We dared. We've always believed in shaking things up and challenging society's status quo and expectations. We've based our entire existence on such a vision. Now it comes back to you, the people of Calgary, and our audience.

What do you think of Theatre Junction GRAND? Does it work? Does it sound right? Is it selfish? Should we have done it from the get go?

Most importantly, do we have a hope in hell of getting people on board with it!?

p.s. We also renamed our website THEATREJUNCTION.COM -- it just seemed like the right thing to do.