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Tue Apr 14, 2020

Q & A with Nadia Roberts

Meet our staff!

A series of Q&As that take a peek behind the curtain at the working lives (and working-from-home lives) of Chan Centre staff members.

Here, we learn more about Events and Front of House Coordinator Nadia Roberts.

Name:

Nadia Roberts

 

Chan Centre staff member since:

Full-time since 2006. Worked part-time during my undergrad starting in 2000: started as an usher, then usher captain, and by 2004 was working mostly on-call as an assistant coordinator while I completed my master’s degree.

 

What is your official job title?

Events and Front of House Coordinator

 

What does that mean?

It means that I work closely with the Events and Customer Service Manager to hire and train our front of house staff—a team of up to 60 ushers, bartenders, usher captains, bar captains, float captains and first aid attendants. I help plan the FOH aspects of events closely with our clients in order to make sure their event needs are met with our resources and capacity. I work with our production, ticketing, and operations teams to run events with my staff and our clients. The ultimate goal is to make our patrons feel at home and comfortable in the Chan Centre by hiring warm, welcoming and friendly staff.

 

Why a career in the arts? What is your background?

I have undergraduate and master’s degrees in anthropology. My MA thesis, in medical anthropology, focused on the mental health treatment system in Tanzania, East Africa. I have a passion for the arts, and have since I started singing when I was eight or nine. I was obsessed with musicals in high school and performed in one or two each year. I also loved choir and the arts in general. My dad used to be an art teacher, and took us to every museum and art gallery possible in whatever cities we lived in/visited, so I grew up with a strong appreciation and love for painting, photography, drawing, in addition to the performing arts. I remember seeing the Moscow Ballet perform at the Bolshoi Theatre when I was eight. The stage always captivated me. I loved, and still do love, seeing stories told through music, or acting, or dance.

 

What is the coolest part of your job?

My anthropology background may seem unrelated to this job, but essentially I love people and being around people from different cultures. When I was young I lived in Moscow, Russia, for five years before we moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for another five years. My parents were teachers in international schools and we travelled a lot. This job keeps me in touch with people from so many varying backgrounds. Our FOH staff is extremely diverse, made up of people ranging from 18 to 70. Many are students, a large portion of whom are international students from around the world. They are studying fascinating things, or working in interesting fields, and many of our staff have lived such unique lives. We host artists, speakers, performers from around the world. The conversations with our staff, the clients, our fascinating and diverse audiences fuel me and keep me endlessly engaged. No event at work is ever the same as another, so I am constantly learning and engaging with new people.

 

What is your most memorable Chan Centre moment?

Too many to count! All of my most memorable moments involve seeing the impact that a performer or speaker is having on our audience. Standing in the back of the concert hall and witnessing the magic that happens when a group of people gather to be inspired, learn something or just soak up a new sound.

 

What is your favourite part of the building?

This is a toss up. The glass lobby is one of my favourite places, I spend a lot of time in that space, staring at the gorgeous trees outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. The other space I love is (not surprisingly) the concert hall itself. Partly because it is architecturally stunning; having heard in person the late Bing Thom describe every detail of the building’s design as well as the attention, care, and detail that went into its development during a tour for new architects, it is impossible not to get excited every time I enter the hall. And partly because I have so many memories of warm, connected gatherings in the concert hall. I have witnessed so many moments of connection and people being moved. I have seen countless people cry from joy at a moving musical performance, or laugh hysterically at a comedian, or listen enthralled as their favourite author speaks candidly. It is a transformative space, both in its design, and in the moments that happen within it.

I have seen countless people cry from joy at a moving musical performance, or laugh hysterically at a comedian, or listen enthralled as their favourite author speaks candidly. It is a transformative space, both in its design, and in the moments that happen within it.

Nadia Roberts

Chan Centre staff are working from home these days. What’s helping you cope? Keeping you inspired?

My kids keep me focused and inspired, and are helping me cope. They are 9 and 11, and our days are a very full mix of home learning schedules for them which I facilitate while I work, and getting out for at least two walks or small adventures a day. We try to keep it fun and light with a lot of exercise, dance parties, singing, and music. I am learning more ukulele and also I am learning Swahili on Duolingo.