Who HKC Is
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.