Leading Through a Pandemic with Christina Loewen

Christina Loewen isn’t one to shy away from challenges. As executive director for the Association for Opera in Canada, she has been recognized for her innovative thinking, collaborative leadership and cross-sectoral approach. Over the years, Christina has strengthened finances, designed and delivered new programming and services, and managed expectations of a board of directors.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, brought an entirely new type of challenge to the table for the performing arts leader.

“Those early days in March [2020] when the lockdown first happened, I mean, it was like everything just ground to a complete halt,” Christina said on the Leading With Nice Interview Series podcast. “Nobody knew anything about anything. And, you know, that’s the experience that most people had in the world at this time. No more live performance. Lots of questions, no answers. Lots of confusion.”

She wasted no time in leading the Association for Opera in Canada through the unknown. Christina led policy revisions to improve access and inclusivity through new and affordable membership categories, responded rapidly to job losses by creating the Portfolio Artist Collective, a job creation and skills development program for artists, and created the Emergency Opera Artist Relief Fund.

“Our entire response through the pandemic has been one of deep care,” she said. “That was one of the guiding principles that I wanted to build with that team, to really make sure that they knew that they were responsible for delivering care as well as services.”

Listen to the episode below to hear Christina’s full conversation about her leadership journey through one of the most challenging times of her career.