What's in a Board? - Western Canada Theatre

A crucial part of any not-for-profit organization is its board of directors, but many audience and community members don’t really know what they do. A board of directors is made up of community members who are interested in taking an active role in the future of a non-profit and acting as ambassadors for it in their community. They govern the organization’s activities through management oversight and setting of policy, and help to ensure that WCT continues to grow and thrive. Someone who is interested in acting on a board must be elected by the company’s members, and, if selected, they become legally responsible for the transparency and protection of the organization.

Peter ter Weeme (one of WCT’s newest board members) has lived all over, growing up in Montreal and the Niagara region and moving on to Toronto, Vancouver, the Netherlands, and New Delhi. In his childhood he was drawn to band and drama, and he still maintains a passion for performing and being onstage. Though his professional career would take him more in the direction of marketing and social responsibility, he realized that he could channel both his passion for the arts and his drive to make a difference by sitting on and chairing various boards, including the PuSh Festival, the Vancouver Arts Council, the VanCity Community Foundation, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, and the Better Business Bureau, just to name a few.

Peter recently moved to the Interior from the lower mainland to take on a position as the Chief Social Purpose Officer and VP of Player Experience at the BC Lottery Corporation, making sure that the company is accountable to the players and supportive of BC communities. This role draws on his intimate familiarity with fundraising and outreach. BCLC is active in all sorts of charity and community activities, including the RIH Radiothon, the Wig Bank, and Spread the Local Love. Western Canada Theatre receives support from BCLC each year, through gaming grants, but Peter is not involved in those decisions, as it would be a conflict of interest.

Cast of GLORY at Western Canada Theatre, 2018. Photo by Ryan Alexander McDonald/Chicknksratch Productions. Director James MacDonald, Associate Director Tracey Power, Set & Lighting Designer Narda McCarroll, Costume Designer Cindy Wiebe, Composer & Sound Designer Steve Charles.
The Cast of Western Canada Theatre's 2019 tour of "GLORY"  | Photo by Ryan Alexander McDonald/Chicknksratch Productions.
Director JAMES MacDONALD, Set & Lighting NARDA McCARROLL, Costumes CINDY WEIBE

Peter wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the work of Western Canada Theatre when he arrived in the Interior. He had seen GLORY in West Vancouver and really enjoyed it, not realizing at the time that it was a touring production, written by Kamloops local Tracey Power, directed by AD James MacDonald, and produced by WCT. When he was deciding whether or not to join our Board, he also saw a workshop presentation of a portion of an upcoming WCT project, Playing With Fire, and was really impressed with the kind of work - both in production and in the development of new, socially relevant plays - that this company is involved in. He saw an opportunity to be a part of an organization that makes a real difference, not just in this community, but in national conversations.

In Peter’s view, a successful board needs to have clarity of purpose and good governance. WCT’s Board is currently in the process of updating and prioritizing its role in setting policy and governance,maintaining a clear distinction between the board and the staff. This allows management freedom to make operational decisions, while the board can focus on bigger picture goal-setting and advocating for the company in the community.

In addition, Peter believes one of the most important things a board member can do is contribute financially to the non-profit. He personally made a large donation to WCT when he signed up for the Board and maintains a significant monthly donation. He feels that if board members are going to be fundraising and encouraging others to donate and support the company – one of the board’s key roles - it only makes sense that they should be doing so themselves. Moving forward, Peter sees this Board becoming stronger and more purpose-driven and looks forward to increased fundraising potential and opportunities to grow WCT’s network, profile, and collaboration with other local organizations.

Asked if he would recommend the experience, Peter says “absolutely.”  Acting on a board allows you to feel like you are making a difference in your community while playing an active role. A good board has a diverse group of people from all walks of life, who can each bring their own expertise and vantage point to the table as well as act as a representative for the organization within their network. While contributing financially is an important element, it should be reflective of what each individual can afford. Most important is curiosity, passion and an interest in adding to the conversation. Thanks for coming on Board, Peter!