Unionville Theatre Company

Organization size: Small
Discipline: Theatre
Location: Markham, ON (2011-12)

Local Grocer Rings through Community Partnership

Unionville Theatre Company and the Village Grocer Partnership Summary

The Unionville Theatre Company (UTC) operates a repertory company focused on encouraging an appreciation of theatre and developing the performance and production skills of the community’s youth. UTC partnered with The Village Grocer, a community hub for families, clubs and charities to come together in celebration and support of various local projects and activities.

The Unionville Theatre Company’s partnership with The Village Grocer created a win-win sponsorship. The Village Grocer received increased exposure, broadening its customer base and brand recognition specifically through social media channels. The UTC was able to secure cash and in-kind services from the Village Grocer to support their search for permanent space for their company and to help fund their 2012/13 production, Once Upon A Mattress.

*The Village Grocer has continued their support and sponsorship of The Unionville Theatre Company since 2011 as a Gold sponsor for the 2012 production of Once Upon a Mattress, 2013 production of Shrek, and 2014 production of Mary Poppins.

“The artsVest workshop and ‘The Elevator Pitch’ has opened many doors for our group – we still benefit from the presentation and knowledge the speakers shared.”

Carlene Flynn, UTC

Unionville Theatre Company

Unionville Theatre Company provides a welcoming training ground where young performers can hone their skills in high-calibre musical productions in front of large audiences. The Company features youthful casts, full-scale orchestras, set builders, volunteers, sponsors and more, resulting in a community-wide effort in supporting UTC’s operating season.

The Village Grocer

The Village Grocer in Markham is more than a grocery store that provides innovative customer service and great products. It is also a community hub for families, clubs and charities to come together in celebration and support of various local projects and activities. A well-known supporter of community initiatives in the area, the Village Grocer takes a positive and active approach in getting involved.

While The Village Grocer’s main goal is generating revenue by providing innovative customer service and great products, a critical part of their mission is to uphold their reputation as a community builder.


About the Partnership

The Unionville Theatre Company primarily relied on their board to reach out to local businesses through their connections, colleagues and friends. While this approach worked, it was a limited strategy and often did not yield the best sponsorship returns. UTC decided to get involved in the artsVest program to help strengthen their efforts in approaching local businesses. Their brand new partnership with the Village Grocer employed creative methods learned through artsVest that in turn helped build and activate a creative sponsorship.

”We had a sponsorship package before, but nothing formal,” said Carlene Flynn – Producer, Unionville Theatre. “My process was to get familiar and establish a connection between the theatre or production and the business. For example, for Willy Wonka, we approached a chocolate company. We did our research.”

With the support of artsVest, UTC devised an innovative sponsorship approach for its partners by creating tailored sponsorship packages that outlined a variety of benefits for its business partners. The approach provided the prospect with flexibility in terms of partner involvement and commitment, depending on their business needs.

In search of a permanent space as well as support for their big 2012/2013 production Once Upon A Mattress, UTC secured both cash and in-kind sponsorships with 10 local businesses, including the Village Grocer.

The Village Grocer partnered with UTC as a presenting sponsor in the amount of $2,000.00 for UTC’s 2012/13 show, Once Upon A Mattress, and received a number of short and long-term benefits as a result of this new partnership.

Benefits for the Village Grocer

Short term

  • Public acknowledgement of the sponsorship prior to the start of a particular show
  • Artistically mounted show poster and signage advertising the Village Grocer prominently displayed throughout the theatre space during production
  • The Village Grocer broadened their audience through on-stage public acknowledgement by UTC at one of UTC’s productions and through acknowledgement in their program.
  • Full-page colour advertisement on the front inside or back inside cover of the theatre house program
  • Prominent position of Village Grocer graphics on UTC website
  • Eight complimentary tickets for a performance and a VIP reception for the sponsor and their guests on the Friday evening prior to the show

Long term

  • The Village Grocer was given an “arts stamp of approval” to the community through UTC. The Village Grocer was already recognized in the community as a charity supporter, but would now be shown as a supporter of the local arts and culture. This also aligned their brand with artistic integrity in the community.
  • The Village Grocer was able to market and appeal to a new wider audience by linking their social media marketing to UTC.
  • The Village Grocer was able to bring in new customers through the coupon offered in UTC’s program and quantify their success.
  • The opportunity to engage Village Grocer staff through exciting volunteer opportunities in the world of theatre.



UTC made certain that the Village Grocer felt the partnership was innovative and fun. UTC introduced them to the wider theatre and arts community, giving them the opportunity to stay connected as part of the theatre ”family”.

“Ultimately the goal was income, but reputation had to come first. We nurtured goodwill, and it begins to pay off. Arts organizations need to find a way of making it profitable for the business. Put the business needs first and don’t let it be an after-thought. Think long-term”.

Evan Macdonald, owner, Village Grocer Markham.

Benefits for the Unionville Theatre Company

Short term

  • Cross-promotion with The Village Grocer via social media – the Village Grocer was able to promote their participation with UTC on their social media and website
  • Volunteer support from Village Grocer staff


  • Through their affiliation with Village Grocer, UTC was able to expose theatre to a more broad community base that may not have necessarily come to attend the concert before
  • Financial support for their season, the production and to help cover the cost of providing a home for the UTC.



In previous years, UTC’s sponsors placed an ad on the back of the hand out flyer which included a coupon. When a customer presented this coupon, it was a great way for UTC and the sponsoring business to track the benefits of the partnership.

When the Village Grocer was offered this space, they asked that UTC give it to another non- profit organization that could use the exposure – The Markham Food Bank, who benefited from the exposure and awareness. The Markham Food Bank is one of Village Grocer owners Evan and Cathy’s main charities, specifically their “Hockey with Hearts” project.

As of 2015, the Village Grocer continues to sponsor the Unionville Theatre, receiving invaluable recognition and benefits from their continued sponsorship.