Who HKC Is


heather-kelly_500x600Heather Kelly

Founder and CEO, HKC Marketing

Heather Kelly is that rare marketing visionary — she’s both an enthusiastic optimist and a grounded pragmatist. She’s also an award-winning marketing professional with a passion for the arts and a twenty-year history of creating success for some of Canada’s most significant cultural organizations. Heather Kelly designs high-impact marketing campaigns that directly connect people with culture.

Heather is well known for her “make things happen” approach. She founded and leads the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, which has brought together 19 of Toronto’s most vibrant cultural organizations to create the city’s most diverse arts and culture district. Heather also launched two critically acclaimed international arts destinations, The Ryerson Image Centre at Ryerson University, and Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory of Music. Both projects built on previous success stories: the launch of the National Film Board’s Mediatheque, the unique cultural-retail hybrid, Musideum, and the re-imagined Ontario Crafts Council’s Guild Shop. The focus and dedication that made it possible for Heather to realize projects of this scope are the same qualities that have compelled many other organizations to seek out her skillful guidance.

Clients who have benefited from Heather’s dedicated approach include the Aga Khan Museum, University of Toronto Art Centre and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Images Festival, Grant MacEwan University, the Canadian Aboriginal Festival and Music Awards, the Goethe-Institut Toronto, the Small World Music Festival and South Asian Heritage Month, among many others. Some of Heather’s earliest success stories include working with Bravo TV during its inaugural year, and marketing a wide range of arts programs at Harbourfront Centre, one of Toronto’s key cultural organizations.

Heather sparks imagination and innovation in others — for instance, she co-founded and coordinates the monthly Toronto Cultural Leaders Forum, and she originated “The Awesomeness Initiative” for The Royal Conservatory of Music and the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, empowering front line staff to craft “awesome” audience member experiences.

As a speaker at industry events, a teacher of marketing and promotion, and a facilitator of workshops, Heather is recognized for her ability to inspire and lead others to achieve their goals. Recent presentations and keynotes address “The Power of Partnership” and “Having Impact as a Network of Cultural Organizations.” She has been acknowledged with multiple marketing awards from organizations including the International Festivals and Events Association, Festivals & Events Ontario and Alberta Tourism.

Heather is currently a Board Member of The Bentway Conservancy, an Advisory Board Member of East End Arts, a member of the Creative Cities Network, on the Culture Days Ontario Task Force, and is Co-Chair of the Juno Awards Classical Committee. She is a past member of the Board of Directors of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Craft Ontario, Toronto Blues Society, and Marketing Advisory for the Downtown Yonge BIA. She was also a Fellow of the inaugural Cultural Leaders Lab created by the Toronto Arts Council.

Heather Kelly has studied marketing, arts and cultural management, and organizational leadership. She lives, writes poetry, and raises Betta boys in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @heather_kelly.

  • Over the past ten years or so, I've had many opportunities to work with Heather Kelly. When I worked as a music journalist and critic, I had regular and very fruitful contact with her marketing firm, resulting in several articles, reviews and interviews with artists from all over the world. More recently, as the head of marketing at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Heather was instrumental in organizing several key initiatives which brought together the RCM and Alliance Française de Toronto. Among these initiatives, Heather organized a meeting with the RCM's Executive Director, Mervon Mehta, resulting in the creation of the Chansongs songwriters' rendezvous. Most importantly, Heather Kelly is the person behind the planned Bloor Street Cultural Corridor, a project which should transform the segment of Bloor Street West between Bathurst and Bay. Throughout all these projects, Heather has proven to be a person of action and ideas, and a delight to work with.
    Dominique Denis
  • Heather Kelly’s skill set, as experienced by the RIC, includes:
    • top level marketing strategy development and leadership in its execution
    • effective management of local, national and international marketing campaigns
    • strong goal oriented focus
    • excellent time management, planning and organisational skills
    • excellent people skills in verbal and written communication
    • team oriented execution of project objectives
    • creative direction and development of a visual brand: new logo and tag line, design and imagery
    • development of marketing design templates and design guidelines
    • creation of a public profile and the proper positioning of the Centre within a wide range of communications and marketing landscapes, in keeping with the mandate developed by the RIC’s Director
    • establishment of key messages that lead to the generation of extensive media coverage
    • ability to work within set budget parameters
    • generation of press coverage and public attendance
    Doina Popescu
    Founding Director
    Ryerson Image Centre
    Ryerson University

  • Heather Kelly was chosen from a long list of potential candidates because of her extensive previous experience, relevant skill set and innovative recommendations for the path forward, all of which were highly professional and utterly convincing.
    Doina Popescu
    Founding Director
    Ryerson Image Centre
    Ryerson University

  • In developing our new Museum and in particular its ambitious Performing Arts programme the Aga Khan Museum has worked with many professional consultants in the cultural sector. The work that Heather Kelly accomplished, with a tight deadline, was amongst our most pleasant and useful experiences in this regard. I found Heather to be a great listener and once she was off, I felt that I could trust her to accomplish her assigned task. She developed a very useful, clear and adaptable report that made specific and concrete recommendations regarding our marketing plan for live performance. We were able to confidently share her work with the broader Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Development Network where her strategic plan was well received and integrated into our communications and marketing plans. Heather is professional, passionate about her field, and knowledgeable about marketing, especially in the context of the GTA. We look forward to working with her in the future as we emerge and evolve.
    Amirali Alibhai
    Head of Performing Arts
    Aga Khan Museum

  • When we identified the need for a new strategic communications plan and a major programmatic relaunch campaign, Heather was the obvious choice. She delivers equally strong messages towards the public as well as to industry audiences in the cultural field. Especially, the ongoing consultancy and support she gave made all the difference. But most importantly, she is a sheer pleasure to work with, overflowing with creative energy.
    Jutta Brendemühl
    Program Manager
    Goethe-Institut Toronto

  • Heather Kelly was instrumental in getting the word out about the Ryerson Image Centre. Given the wide scope of museum news from around the world, it is difficult for smaller institutions to be noticed, however Heather's strategy proved effective in garnering international attention to the RIC.
    Stephen Bulger
    Chair, Advisory Board
    Ryerson Image Centre

  • I have had pleasure and privilege to know and work with Heather Kelly for the past 4+ years. I was amazed at how Heather single handily created, produced and executed a successful marketing campaign for Koerner Hall, time and time again! Her resolve and her professionalism was a constant; I found myself not only admiring her work ethic and expertise but her demeanor and kindness towards everyone that she works with. When I left the RCM to work on the plans and development of the Performing Arts for the Aga Khan Museum, due to open in 2014, I immediately consulted with HK and contracted her to provide us with a Marketing and Public Relations strategy. Her strategy read like a customized “how to run a successful campaign” hand book- it was brilliant! It was so well received by the Director and Heads of Department that it was sent to the Steering Committee in Geneva and became the AKM’s basis for our Marketing Department and future hires. Heather Kelly does not only deliver but she exceeds expectations and does so with genuine joy. Hiring Heather Kelly is smart business, she makes you and your company look good!
    Pascale Wilmot
    Performing Arts Manager
    Aga Khan Museum

  • I have had the pleasure of working with Heather on various marketing campaigns for more than 10 years. Heather is always very positive, professional and creative and she continually demonstrates great leadership and strategic marketing skills. She is great at facilitating valuable partnerships and her communication, speaking and presentation skills are excellent. I highly recommend Heather and I hope to continue working with her in the near and distant future.
    Warren Salmon
    President & CEO
    First Fridays

  • Working with Heather Kelly is just a joy. She is professional, quick and very savvy. Her marketing knowledge and instincts are superb. I hope I have an opportunity to work with her again soon.
    Rose Ginther
    Chair, Arts & Cultural Management
    Grant MacEwan University

  • Heather Kelly is a professional marketing person, with demonstrated skills in many areas as indicated by her list of satisfied partners, including the Canadian Aboriginal Festival and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Ms. Kelly is the best in her field, supported by years of experience. Her work for the CANAB Festival and CAMAs was very instrumental in the ongoing success of both events.
    Ron Robert
    Executive Director
    Canadian Aboriginal Festival & Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards

  • Heather Kelly has extensive experience developing and implementing campaigns. Over the years, she has developed and excellent list of industry contacts and a good rapport with others throughout North America. Heather completes projects on time and on budget and achieves the desired results. She is innovative, industry-savvy, works well independently and as part of a team and is as generous with her time as she is with her outgoing personality.
    Bruce Hutchinson
    Marketing Director
    Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre
    (Former Director, Marketing & Media Relations, Harbourfront Centre)

heather@hkcmarketing.com | 416•879•0283 | 10 Dawes Road, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4C 5A7