Message from the Board Chair and Festival Director
Since 2005, the ReFrame Film Festival has played a vital role in the Nogojiwanong / Peterborough arts and culture landscape, celebrating compelling works by documentary filmmakers and artists from across Canada and around the world. With a focus on social justice, human rights and environmental responsibility, the annual mid-winter festival is complemented by panel discussions, filmmaker talks, exhibits and performances. ReFrame is blessed with a large and committed audience that is steadily expanding beyond the communities of Peterborough County, and in January 2019 marked its 15th anniversary with its most successful instalment to date.
In the face of such positive growth however, rapid social change, shifting political landscapes, funding uncertainty and technological disruption are realities confronting organizations across the sector. To navigate these new norms, and to continue our legacy of fostering connections among audiences, filmmakers, artists and neighbours, a considered and actionable plan was in order. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the long-standing ReFrame Collective, we are proud to present just that plan.
To ensure we were responsive to the needs and perceptions of our many stakeholders, we engaged with audience members, community partners, volunteers, and a wide range of local arts and cultural organizations. Through surveys and focus groups, an analysis of our progress over time, and a review of festivals across the sector, we were able to measure our capacities and identify four new strategic directions, which we are excited to present here.
We thank everyone who took the time to participate, share ideas, and provide feedback as part of this process. We are confident that, with your suggestions and insights, we have generated a workable plan that lays the groundwork for a vibrant future for ReFrame. Together, we will continue in our mission to celebrate documentary film and art, and work closely with our community to raise awareness of pressing local, regional and international issues.
Julia Harrison, Board Chair
Jay Adam, Festival Director
Mission, Vision & Values
The ReFrame Film Festival is a community celebration of documentary film and media art, with a lens on social and environmental justice.
We aim to build socially active, engaged community audiences through the curated presentation of documentary film and media art.
We are committed to:
- Supporting and showcasing the work of documentary filmmakers and media artists
- Providing an accessible festival experience by removing physical, social, and economic barriers to participation
- Fostering dialogue around issues of social justice, human rights, and environmental responsibility
- Decision-making processes that are inclusive and guided by principles of anti- oppression
- Valuing and empowering employees and volunteers
- Nurturing collaborative community partnerships
As one of the leading documentary film festivals in Ontario, ReFrame has forged a widely celebrated reputation and accomplished much in recent years. In 2019, ReFrame screened its highest number of films (71) for its largest total audience (16,860) to date.
With this record of achievement, ReFrame set out with the goal of creating an inspiring and comprehensive multi-year strategic plan that would build on the organization’s successes and set the course for the future. To achieve this, an inclusive and far-reaching planning process was developed with the support of a third-party consultant.
Throughout the process, ReFrame sought meaningful engagement with its audiences and stakeholders. Engagement strategies used to solicit input included focus groups and an online public survey. The engagement phase, which ran from May 6 to June 5, 2019, gathered input and feedback from
a total of:
- 21 participants through an initial project kick-off and subsequent planning meetings
- 16 participants in focus groups
- 341 respondents to the online survey
A strategic planning Board Retreat took place on Monday, September 9, 2019, where engagement results were reviewed, trends identified, and the environment in which ReFrame operates was considered. After careful deliberations on a wide range of issues, the board reached consensus on priorities, and has established the following four
- Build Our Capacity
- Enhance and Diversify Our Programming
- Improve Support For Our Volunteers
- Ensure Our Organizational Sustainability
These strategic directions will guide our work over the next five years, reflecting our continued commitment to documentary film and media arts, and our focus on human rights, social justice, and environmental responsibility. They are aligned with our mission, and, after fifteen years of successful operations, represent the next logical step in our development as a thriving non-profit organization. The Board is confident about the future and excited to move forward in implementing this strategic plan.
About ReFrame Film Festival
The ReFrame Film Festival aims to build and support informed, thoughtful, and engaged community audiences for documentary film and art.
To achieve this goal, ReFrame holds a three-day film festival in Nogojiwanong / Peterborough, Ontario at the end of January each year. The festival attracts diverse audiences from across the province to view independent Canadian and international films, meet filmmakers and artists, and participate in educational opportunities intended to foster community engagement in the arts.
Founded in 2004, ReFrame is a widely celebrated event in the Nogojiwanong / Peterborough arts and culture community. With a focus on social justice, human rights, and environmental responsibility, ReFrame strives to foster meaningful connections between audiences, filmmakers and artists, community partners, and neighbours.
Overview of the Planning Process
The Board commissioned the strategic planning process in its role as governor and steward of the organization. The planning scope established a process that would identify our priorities, while positioning us to evolve and continue meeting the needs of the community. In order to effectively draw out and interpret stakeholder input, the Board engaged the services of an independent firm, Laridae, to facilitate the process, which took place between March and September 2019.
To engage and listen to the broad community of ReFrame stakeholders, the Board sought meaningful opportunities for feedback to be given. Throughout this process, the public survey and focus groups had three general purposes:
To engage stakeholders by gathering input, ideas, and suggestions; and by including them in the planning process directly and in a meaningful way;
To enhance communication and information sharing among key stakeholders; and
To educate stakeholders about the work of ReFrame and to generally promote the work of the organization.
The online survey was available from May 6 – June 5, 2019. A summary of the stakeholder engagement process and results can be found in Appendix A.
Strategic Planning Retreat
The Board of Directors and staff met on Monday, September 9, 2019 for a half-day strategic planning retreat. The agenda consisted of a series of facilitated discussions, which ensured that the strategic issues, performance data, finances, and environmental scan were considered in depth. The major strategic themes were then mapped, along with opportunities and challenges. Through discussion and reflection, the Board reached consensus on four strategic directions.
Our Strategic Directions
ReFrame is committing to a five-year strategic plan, which requires that the directions be high level and future-oriented. This will allow ReFrame to adapt as circumstances change over the duration of the plan. The directions offer a framework for the development of annual operational plans with measurable goals and objectives. These annual plans (not included as part of this document) will make the strategic directions operational.
ReFrame has established itself as an important cultural force in Nogojiwanong / Peterborough. As an organization, ReFrame is focused on pushing the boundaries of social, cultural and political conversations, celebrating documentary film and media art, acknowledging the talent and vision of local, national and international documentary filmmakers, and surpassing the expectations of our audiences. Our new strategic directions outline our commitment to ensuring the continued impact, relevance, and value of ReFrame to the diverse communities it serves. It is further our intention to foster increased engagement with our audiences and the growing community of local filmmakers and media artists.
Following are our four strategic directions:
Enhance & Diversify
of our Volunteers
Build Our Capacity
To meet the current and emerging needs of our stakeholders, ReFrame must have strong governance and operational structures in place. Our commitment here to building our internal capacity offers a solid foundation for our continued success.
We commit to:
Review and revise the structure of the organization to streamline workflows and meet anticipated future needs
Expand and invest in our staff through training, professional development, and sustainable and equitable contracts
Invest in our governance through training, professional development, and succession planning for our Board
Review our internal and external communications processes and channels, with the goal of strengthening relationships, improving collaboration among stakeholders, and better serving our audience
Revise our by-laws, further develop our policies and procedures, develop an organizational code of conduct, and ensure that foundational documents exist to support staff, volunteers, Board members, committees, and subcommittees
Enhance & Diversify
In the next five years we will embrace opportunities for growth while preserving the community-based ethos that is at the heart of ReFrame. We commit to ensuring that our processes are inclusive and draw on the talent and expertise in our community to reach more diverse audiences. We will also strive to meet the pace of change in the arts, culture, and media landscapes.
We commit to:
Further expand our programming in three key areas:
- Year-round Programming to reach a wider audience and increase our impact by expanding ReFrame beyond the three-day core festival
- Educational and Professional Development Opportunities to support emerging filmmakers and media artists in our community
- Child and Youth Programs to introduce young people in our community to the art of filmmaking, the power of film, and art as a tool for social change
Embrace new and emerging technologies to enhance the experience and reach of ReFrame
Review our programming processes with an eye to increasing efficiency and transparency
of our Volunteers
Volunteers are the heart of ReFrame. The organization was created – and is sustained – by volunteers who contribute in a range of capacities. From the festival volunteer who greets audiences at the door, and the board director who offers strategic counsel to guide the organization, to the Collective member who works tirelessly throughout the year to make it all happen – we see you, and we value you.
We recognize the importance of all volunteers who dedicate their time and passion to the festival, and the organization overall. Nurturing an environment in which volunteers feel supported, engaged, and appreciated is critical to the future success of ReFrame.
We commit to:
Maintain and grow our base of dedicated volunteers, and work to provide more opportunities for participation
Ensure that meaningful recognition of our volunteers and their contributions is a central focus as we grow
Formalize and expand the orientation and training process to ensure a consistent and positive experience for all volunteers
Review volunteer responsibilities and develop written descriptions for volunteer roles, as well as terms of reference for all committees to increase clarity and manage workloads
Equip all volunteers with the training and communication tools to be ambassadors for ReFrame
Increase our capacity for volunteer management to build on our success to date to improve volunteer satisfaction and engagement
Despite the festival’s strong support and community reputation, ReFrame operates in an environment of uncertainty as social, cultural, political, technological, and funding landscapes shift. A renewed commitment to organizational sustainability is now more important than ever.
We commit to:
Define what sustainability means for ReFrame for all aspects of the organization – financial, human, cultural, and structural
Identify additional approaches to revenue generation including new granting and sponsorship opportunities
Cultivate strong governance and invest in the development of Board Directors through training, succession planning, and formalized recruitment and orientation processes
Ensure that measures are in place to attract and retain staff and volunteers who are dedicated and fully engaged
Deepen existing relationships and investigate new and more diverse partnerships within the community
Our new strategic directions provide ReFrame with a clear framework to steer our organizational development over the next five years. To achieve these goals the Board has committed to the following:
- Communicate our strategic directions internally and externally
- Develop organizational goals and objectives that move each strategic direction forward
- Establish annual operational plans with measurable targets and concrete actions
- Form committees and sub-committees to support our commitments
- Review our progress on the directions annually and modify plans as necessary
The Board of Directors, staff and Collective are proud of ReFrame’s success to date. Thank you to all those who contributed ideas, suggestions, and feedback during this process. We have heard you. Our mission, vision and values will remain at the centre of our work as we pursue these new strategic directions, and we look forward to achieving our goals together with you, our community. Here’s to an exciting future for the ReFrame Film Festival!
Stakeholder Engagement Summary
The engagement phase took place between May 6 and June 5, 2019. Engagement sessions and opportunities were promoted by email, social media, and through word of mouth.
The survey and focus groups had three general purposes:
- To engage stakeholders by gathering input, ideas, and suggestions; and by including them in the planning process directly and in a meaningful way;
- To enhance communication and information sharing among key stakeholders; and
- To educate stakeholders about the work of ReFrame and generally promote the work of the organization.
Reframe invited the following audiences to participate in the engagement process:
- Audience/festival goers
(local and non-local)
- Members of the Collective
- Board members
- Funders, donors, and sponsors
- Local businesses
- Local arts organizations
- Local schools and students
- Staff and audiences of other film festivals
- Interested members of the community
Two focus group sessions were held in May 2019 for various stakeholder groups, including arts administrators and community partners, members of the Collective, and festival volunteers. A total of 16 individuals participated in focus groups.
A confidential online survey was conducted, available publicly and promoted to the above-noted stakeholder groups. Anonymity was guaranteed to encourage participants to be comfortable and honest in their responses. The survey was circulated via email, social media, and word of mouth, and was available to from May 6 – June 5, 2019. There were 341 respondents to the survey.
Overall, participant feedback was highly positive and complimentary of the festival and the organization. As anticipated at the outset of this project, stakeholders also identified a few areas for improvement, and opportunities for the Board’s consideration which could make ReFrame even more successful in the future.
- Very strong engagement: Participation throughout the stakeholder engagement period was very strong. The online survey, in particular, received a high number of responses, with 341 people responding to the survey.
- Excellent impressions of ReFrame: Based on experience, 96.5% of survey respondents rated their overall impression of ReFrame as “excellent” or “good”.
- Strong understanding of what ReFrame does: 85.6% of survey respondents said they understand what ReFrame offers.
Feedback from stakeholders highlighted many strengths within the organization, while also identifying some areas for improvement and further exploration.
- Stakeholders care deeply about ReFrame. They are interested in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the organization, as it is highly valued within the community.
- Focus group participants appreciated the opportunity to provide their feedback, share their ideas, and contribute to ReFrame’s strategic planning process.
Stakeholders spoke to a broad range of themes. Themes that consistently emerged were the following:
- Accessibility of events and communications
- Opportunities for children, youth, and students
- Volunteer experience, training, and recognition
- Financial Sustainability
- Organizational Capacity
- Partnership opportunities
Appendix B: Board of Directors and Leadership Staff
Board of Directors 2019/2020
- Julia Harrison, Chair
- Mbo Mtetwa, Vice Chair
- Doug Chivers-Storey, Secretary
- Glen Jones, Treasurer
- Susan Bacque
- Deborah Berrill
- Jordan Bowden
- An Kosurko
- Richard Peachey
- Shaoling Wang
- Jay Adam, Festival Director
- Amy Siegel, Creative Director