Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Canadian Artists Are Ask To Think About Isaac Brock!

Private donor provides $1 million to Brock University for art commission

Painting - Isaac Brock
On behalf of a major donor and Brock University, Cultural Asset Management Group (CAM Group) is seeking a Canadian artist to produce a $1 million work of art to commemorate Isaac Brock in time for the 50th anniversary of Brock University. The St Catharines, Ontario university was founded in 1964.

 “CAM Group is proud to play a role in honouring Isaac Brock, one of the founding fathers of Canada.  This major commission is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for artists to make visible the founding dynamic and legend of a nation. This commission is at least as much about the future as it is about the past. Brock University and its generous donor are calling upon and significantly investing in Canadian artists to honour and celebrate our history", said Shelley Falconer, CEO of Toronto based, Cultural Asset Management Group.
Brock University has issued a formal Request for Proposals laying out the key parameters for artist selection and the work itself. The artist will be selected by April 1, 2013 to complete the work of art by May 2014.

Any artist who would like to be sent the RFP, should send their email address and other contact information to the project art consultant, Cultural Asset Management Group, or visit their website at

For Further Information:
Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir and Associates | twitter: sweirweir

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Everybody Needs A Publicist ... except St. Joseph

(first published in Huffington Post - )

St Joe statue in Toronto store's joke section - sweir photo

I have been a publicist for has-been TV stars, up-and-coming authors, and even convicted (but innocent) murderers. So I am probably the last person that should be canvassed for an opinion, but I believe that aside from St. Joseph, everyone and every product needs a publicist.
As I like to say: Bad news? Good news?  Not enough news?  In need of an ego boost? Have Press Release, Will Travel! St. Joseph is the big exception – and that is thanks to me, in my role as a very active word-of-mouth publicist!
One need only look in the backyards of desperate home owners praying to sell their homes in a buyer’s market to see why He doesn’t need a holier than though public relations firm.  St Joseph is the man. He was the husband of Mary, the Mother of the Saviour Jesus Christ.  He is now the patron saint of real estate agents.
He has global fame, albeit, from beyond the grave, that can't be matched by the drawing power of mere-mortal movie stars. He doesn't need no stinking backstage badges, PR agents or press kits.  He is an above ground, underground and half-in-the-ground world-class star.
Right now, although you won’t likely hear about it anywhere else except on this blog, Joseph is the saint you call on when you can't sell your house! 
"Bury him backwards in your backyard, make sure you put him upside down facing the house," said my California real estate agent a few years ago. " Once you have planted him, step back and wait for the offers to come in!"
I called my wife back in Toronto and told her about St Joseph, the patron saint of lost real estate causes. We were having trouble selling our Cabbagetown home. It was a down market. The curb value had dipped when a thief broke into our house during a real estate agents' open house!
My spouse went to a Bible Store and asked for a statue of Joseph. " Sorry, we are all out of single statues, " said the clerk. " We only have Joseph carrying the Baby Jesus. Want them?"
"Fine, I will take it," my wife replied.  "No need to wrap them up." She drove back home and planted the plaster statue, taking care to keep Baby Jesus’ head out of the dirt. One day later, we had an offer on the house!
Two months ago I told that true story of Joseph to my business associate and urged her to get digging. She and her husband have built a home on Lake Simcoe and are leaving their large Oakville home behind. Trouble is, a year ago she would have gotten multiple offers for the place -- this time of year, things were very bleak.
" I did buy St Joseph, just like you said," my colleague told me over the phone." I went to a church store and asked for Him.  I told the clerk what you told me to do.  She had never heard of it before. She laughed and thought the store should advertise their St Joe statues to real estate agents."
St Joseph, sans Baby Jesus, was planted in the backyard of the Oakville home. The next day my friends had TWO offers for their home.  They sold their home and as I write this they are busy packing!
At Christmas time, a single mom who comes by my office every week to clean up after me, complained that she had put her house on the market in the fall and found a buyer, only to have the deal go sour two-days before closing.  Since then, no one has shown an interest in her Toronto property.
I told her the story about St Joseph.  She decided to give it a try. The next week she came back to tell me the ground was frozen and she hadn't been able to bury Joe.  The house was still unsold.
"Buy a flower pot and put him in it," was my sage advice.  "Make sure he is upside down and facing the house."
Today, she came up to my office to thank me for the tip. Her house was sold above-list a day after the pot was put out.  She moves in mid-February.
I never can keep my mouth shut about folk tales, especially when they are true. I should patent my stories. My tale about St Joseph has spread around the world.  I was in a store on the Danforth buying bacon flavoured candies (don't ask) and noticed that a California company was capitalizing on St Joseph and selling, for just $9.99 a plastic statue of his likeness for backyard home-for-sale burials.
BTW - even though home sellers across North America have profited from my sage advice, sadly our family did not.  We did bury St Joseph in our backyard and we did accept a great offer on our 120-year old downtown Toronto house. But, one of my sons, a toddler at the time, didn't understand why the man and baby were buried in the backyard. He pulled the statue out and gave it to my wife.  Minutes later the phone rang, the buyers were backing out.
Joseph was reburied, but to little avail. It took another three months and a price cut before we sold and moved. Joseph came with us. It wasn't his fault. And who knows what happens to your new house if you toss out the old home's Mojo?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Biography of Carol Bishop-Gwyn - shortlisted author for this year's Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Carol Bishop-Gwyn
(This is an updated biography for Carol Bishop-Gwn - it is more detailed than what we used in the Prize press kit )
Ballet enthralled me as a little girl, but it soon became apparent that I lacked the ‘right stuff’ to become a ballerina.
I became a spectator with my parents, who brought me to performances of The National Ballet of Canada. My most vivid memory from those years is of watching Margot Fonteyn with London’s Royal Ballet perform on a stage that had been constructed overtop of the ice rink  at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. My parents and I were sat way back in the greys watching little stick figures. Nonetheless, I was mesmerized.
As an adult, I switched my allegiance to contemporary dance – early modern western theatrical dance, to retreat into academic speak.  While taking a dance survey course at Harvard University, I discovered a pioneer of modern dance, the Canadian-born Maud Allan, who in her day was just as famous as Isadora Duncan. She served me splendidly as the basis for my post-graduate degrees in Fine Arts: Dance History. 
For several years, I lived in Moscow and then London, where my love of the ballet was rekindled.
Back in Toronto in 1992, I was once again in the audience at National Ballet of Canada performances. Occasionally I brought my teenage son, bribing him with a dinner at Shopsy’s before crossing the road to the O’Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre). One night on the drive home after one of those rare transformative performances of Romeo and Juliet, he turned to me and said, ‘If you tell anyone that I really liked that ballet, I’ll never talk to you again.’ It’s too good a story to hide forever; my adult son and I are still talking.
As I explain in the introduction to my book, Celia Franca as a topic dropped into my lap, and so I felt it was meant to be. There were times during the writing of the book when I wondered if Celia was out there stirring things up. Sitting with friends one day, a bird I’d never seen before landed close by in a bush. I was told it was a cowbird. Recently someone had compared Celia Franca to a cowbird.  Was that bird watching me?”
Carol Bishop-Gwyn is a writer and dance historian. She has taught courses at York University, Ryerson University, and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Bishop-Gwyn has worked as a broadcaster and producer for CBC National Radio and as a freelance magazine writer.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Interviews available with Deborah Coyne about her e-book memoir

"Unscripted"  - Candid ebook by federal Liberal Leadership candidate Deborah Coyne

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2013

Toronto -- In her memoir released today, Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidate Deborah Coyne says the ability of Canadians to work together as a nation is seriously frayed.  She urges Canadians to get off sidelines of national politics and fully embrace what we can do with our ideas, talents, and drive.
Unscripted: A Life Devoted to Building a Better Canada weaves Coyne's life-long dedication to seeking bold directions for Canada with her personal path, including her 15-year relationship with the late former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau.
"As my relationship with Pierre developed through 1986, we began spending more time together, mainly weekends at the chalet when the boys were with Margaret in Ottawa. He made it clear from the beginning that the boys were his first priority and that remarriage was out of the question, although he also said that he regretted he wasn’t 20 years younger because there might have been a different outcome. Ever the rational man, he was more realistic than I was about our age difference."
Coyne takes her readers on a thoughtful journey through her life, and her personal role in some of the landmarks of Canadian political history, including the fights against the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional accords.
"Like many Canadians, I have lost confidence in the fundamentals of our democratic system, along with the idea of an honest and efficient federal government. I’m frustrated with endless reports of wasted money and ineffective programs. I resent years of federal leaders creating short-term opportunities for consumption instead of long-term opportunities for education and employment, leaving us spectacularly unprepared for an age of restraint and environmental devastation. Sadly, especially for many young people, it’s much easier to give up on national politics altogether and settle for mediocrity and low expectations."
Frankly outlining how her life experience has led to her seeking the Liberal leadership,  Coyne calls for voters to "get back in the game” with her call for "One Canada For All Canadians", saying it's important not to leave the future of Canada only to political actors in Ottawa.  She argues that we urgently need coherent national leadership that governs for the long-term, not just the next election.
"We all need to come together, forum by forum, riding by riding, to fight for nothing less than the soul of our nation. That’s why I’ve always thought that our leaders need to be poets, not merely pollsters. To inspire people to give as much of themselves as they ask of their governments. "
Unscripted: A Life Devoted to Building a Better Canada can be downloaded at Kindle and Kobo bookstores for $2.99, and is available by donation at

Media Contact:
Stephen Weir
Stephen Weir and Associates
416-489-5868 celll 416 801-3101