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Dan McKinnon

Like many arts managers, Dan McKinnon juggles a busy creative practice with an even busier day job helping fellow artists to create and to connect with audiences and industry. Here, the 2016 Arts Administration and Cultural Management grad tells us how he balances art and business.


I’m keeping busy with a number of things. On the arts administration side, I am starting my second year with NYO Canada (National Youth Orchestra of Canada), managing all of the marketing and communication initiatives for the organization. My day-to-day includes everything from building special content for our website, developing a social media strategy for the Orchestra, and assisting our development team wherever possible.

Additionally, I am maintaining an active music career, fronting a blues/rock band under my own name. This summer, I was fortunate to win the 2017 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search, which has given my career an extra boost as I prepare to go back to the studio to record my second album this December.

Finally, I recently joined the board of directors for the emerging North Toronto-based organization SoundCheck Youth Arts, which helps provide marginalized youth with opportunities to develop musical proficiency, positive identities, and leadership skills within a safe learning environment through musical instruction, mentorship, and performance.


Over the last year, I had the privilege of developing the marketing strategy for NYO Canada’s Edges of Canada tour, which took the Orchestra to 12 different cities across the nation as a part of the Canada 150 celebrations. Working on this project gave me the opportunity to travel to every part of the country, which was highlighted by a trip to Whitehorse.

Additionally, once my second semester finished at Humber, I immediately stepped into a marketing role with Toronto Summer Music (TSM), the lone classical music festival to run in the city during the summer months. It was an incredible opportunity that gave me a chance to see what a career was like in arts management first hand. If not for the experience I gained at TSM, I would not have had the opportunity to step into my current role at NYO Canada.


The Arts Administration program provided me with a 360-degree perspective of what a career in arts management entails with course work on everything from revenue development to human resources. Most importantly, the course material was not only applicable to people looking to start careers on the business side of the arts world, but relevant to self-managed artists like myself.

One of the biggest things I took from the program is that having a broad skill-set is a necessity if you want to thrive in the sector. Through our instructors and a number of guest speakers, I learned that most arts admin professionals usually work on small teams or teams of one where you could be writing grants one day and studying complex public policy issues the next. Being able to be agile and getting the experience to see this first-hand through our field placements was not lost on me.

To learn more about Dan and his music, visit his website: