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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
April 20, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Jeff Melanson
Jeff Melanson

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WLU

Laurier MBA grad and current student work on the business of dance

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Dec 7/10

A Laurier MBA grad who is proposing business development changes at Canada’s National Ballet School has hired young talent — including a current Laurier MBA student — to help him re-imagine opportunities for dance.

Jeff Melanson has eliminated the school’s deficit and increased revenue significantly since becoming executive director in 2006, but he’s not resting on his laurels. “The arts sector is experiencing profound changes,” he says, “and we’re bringing in bright, energetic people who will help us bring together our great legacy with new opportunities for growth.”

Melanson started a new initiative in September to hire co-op students to help the school move in a new direction. “In the arts, we often have big ideas, but a lack of human capital,” he says.

As a business development intern at the National Ballet School, Laurier MBA co-op student Leah Milne is creating plans to increase revenue through e-commerce, facility rentals, and sales of dance wear. The work involves analyzing markets and developing pricing strategies. She met with other interns to generate ideas for ways to use the school’s theatre space. She also did a comparative report regarding fees for ballet schools internationally.

While conducting research into monetizing a website called Wanttodance.ca, Milne is making use of the social media knowledge she gained in her first work term in digital marketing. “The site started as a national registry of dance,” she says, “and has evolved into a dance community with information about events, dance studios, and types of dance.”

She uses web analytics to determine how often people view portions of the site, and for how long. Milne even blogged about her own experience auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance Canada.”

Milne had 18 years of dance training, including a stint at Canada’s National Ballet School when she was nine. “Leah’s training as a dancer and knowledge of business is a good combination for this job,” says Melanson, who also has an arts background, having studied opera before pursuing his Laurier MBA.

Melanson is a much-lauded leader, so his efforts to induce change are likely to succeed. In 2009, he was the first arts leader to receive Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award, he was named Laurier MBA Alumnus of the Year for 2010, he was recently featured in Canadian Business, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has asked him to be his special advisor on arts and culture.

Laurier offers the largest co-op business degree program in Canada. Each year, Laurier co-op students from the faculties of Arts, Business, Economics, and Science are employed in 1,200 work terms. For more information or to hire a co-op student, please visit our website at www.wlu.ca/co-op or call 519.884.0710 extension 4484.


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