Donna Cowan

July 14, 2022 12:05 pm Published by

What’s your role at the NFB, and what are your responsibilities?

Currently, I am a Networking Agent in the Audience Development team. I identify and develop strategic and collaborative relationships with clients across the country to enable them to host screenings and discussions around NFB films in their communities and networks.

How long have you been at the NFB? Tell us about your career path.

I’ve worked in the arts and culture sector for over 30 years. Starting at The Second City in Toronto and then running The Second City Chicago, I worked with some of the funniest people in North America. You may know some of them—Tina Fey, Steve Colbert, Steve Carell, Colin Mochrie and many more. Upon returning from Chicago, I worked freelance in production until I landed at ACTRA, the actors’ union. Since 2004, I have been at the NFB working in the Toronto office. I started in the Marketing department and in 2012 I became a Networking Agent. In 2015, my role was transferred to the Audience Development team, where I was warmly welcomed.

Did you choose the NFB, or did the NFB choose you?

It was serendipitous. The Marketing Manager in Toronto needed assistance, and I was recommended for the role. The NFB’s social-issue mandate aligns with my values. The opportunity to work with organizations that further these goals was ideal.

What makes the NFB unique in your view?

It is truly unique that my job exists and that it is government-funded. Being able to support social change through the distribution of film is magnificent.

Can you share a surprising fact about your job with us?

In Audience Development last year, we had 300,000 views of our films. These screenings take place in every nook and cranny of this country. In one phone call I can be speaking with someone in northern B.C., and in the next email I’m speaking with someone in Nunatsiavut.

What is it about your job that makes you most proud?

That my personal beliefs and values are in alignment with the content of the films and the NGOs, associations, government departments and community groups that I work with each day.

What career did you aspire to when you were young?

When I was young, I didn’t realize that a career in entertainment was possible, but it was always a keen interest. Not knowing what to do with my life, I took all of the sciences and maths in school just to keep my options open. A business degree with a specialty in Hospitality & Tourism Management led me to work in theatres, where I began my lifelong career in the arts and culture sector. Picking up a few other certificates and diplomas along the way, I have found that an indirect path leads to many interesting adventures and a well-rounded life. However, as yet, I have not been able to put the algebra or calculus to use.

Are you a bigger fan of animation, documentary or interactive experiences?

I am definitely a documentary geek. As a Métis woman, I have a special interest in Indigenous storytelling and especially the “truth” aspect of the Truth & Reconciliation process.

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This post was written by Jimena Romero