Browsing articles in "Culture"

True North Strong and Free

Feb 13, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Reviews  //  No Comments

Yesterday was a good day to be a Canadian, but beyond that, it was a good day to be a Canadian artist. The level of artistry, skill, technical ability, and talent that went into the Opening Ceremony last night was amazing, and it made me proud to be a part of a community of artists that has the skill to pull that off. Beyond that, it was a great day for Calgary artists. The composer/music director, Dave Pierce; the assistant music director, Donovan Seidle; and the choreographer, Jean Grand-Maître, are all Calgary-based artists with huge international successes.

However, aside from the dampening of the day for the most obvious reason (and my heart just aches for the Georgian team and the Kumaritashvili family), there’s something that has been nagging at me for weeks. The more I hear of the controversy and ill-will surrounding the Games in Vancouver, the sadder it makes me. The Olympics in Calgary were such a great experience for the city — culturally, they put Calgary on the world stage, and the arts and culture (not to mention both amateur and professional sports) have flourished so much in the last 22 years due to the foundation laid by the Games — they seemed to draw the city together, not tear it apart. Read more >>

Nights on the town

Feb 11, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life, Theatre  //  No Comments

The other day, I participated in a focus group that was part of a study commissioned by a theatre company in Calgary, to explore theatre-going trends and opinions in the city. The focus group that I was part of was one of three types: people who have been to the theatre within the past six months; people who have been in the past (2 or more years ago), but not more recently; and people who have never been to the theatre. Of course, this one was the first type, and most of the people there were even more frequent than every six months. I think that I was the only theatre professional in attendance, but most of the others were season ticket holders, and many regularly attended shows presented by more than one company.

The first question we were asked was, “What is your ideal night out in Calgary?” Read more >>

Crème and Caramel

Dec 5, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

This cracks me up:

I work at Starbucks, and you may have seen that our new Christmas drink this year is a Caramel Brulée. Spelled that way. At least, in the U.S. it’s spelled that way.

I was looking through the signage for it a few days ago and discovered that the spelling on Canadian signs is “Caramel Brûlé,” which is actually correct. “Caramel,” in French, is masculine, and the past participle of “to burn” (brûler) is brûlé. If the noun was feminine (as in “Crème Brûlée”), there would be the additional “E” on the end, but because it’s masculine, there isn’t.

So… what’s up with that, Starbucks? Is it because Canadians would be more likely to recognize the error? Because Americans are used to the spelling of Crème Brûlée (with less understanding of the actual origin of the dessert name) and wouldn’t notice the difference (and they’ve even omitted the accent circonflexe over the U!) — or would think that it was misspelled because it’s not what they’re used to?

All I know is that when I pointed it out to my co-workers, they were insulted that Starbucks didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt to name the drink correctly. They may not have known the conjugation of the verb, but they were rather insulted that Starbucks assumed they would rather have the misspelling as the name of the drink than have it named properly across the continent.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Oct 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Culture  //  No Comments

Earlier this summer, I wrote about why I love producing and how I got to the place where I knew I wanted to be a producer.

One thing that I didn’t mention in that entry, however, is my surprise at realizing that I have an interest in municipal public policy as it relates to the arts. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I realized that the interplay between a city and its arts and artists is a fascinating dynamic. They have such a symbiotic relationship — most cities are defined, in some way, by their arts; and at the same time, the arts in that city are shaped by the city’s treatment of them. They impact each other in all kinds of crazy, wonderful, frustrating ways, and neither can really thrive without the other. Read more >>

Create your own Culture Month

Aug 28, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Culture  //  1 Comment

Okay, my readers. I want you to do something for me. But I’m not going to tell you what quite yet. First, you need a little background and a lot of links.

I just came from a press conference where Mayor Dave Bronconnier declared September as Culture Month in Calgary. It’s pretty exciting stuff, coinciding with the fact that September 18-20 is the second annual Alberta Arts Days, with all kinds of free events taking place province-wide. September starts with the 2009 WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, which is kind of like the Olympics of the trades (and is actually the largest international competition after the Olympics themselves, and Colin and I are planning to watch some of the competition), and then leads into Alberta Arts Days, the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, and ends with the Calgary International Film Festival, which, this year, features the largest monetary prize in a North American competition.

And, of course, in between all of that, the arts season is kicking off in a big way, with theatre companies launching new seasons, galleries and museums bringing in new exhibits, community organizations auditioning for their 2009-2010 seasons, and way more. It’s an exciting time of year — the excitement and forward motion of a new academic year carries through even if you’re not in school. All the coolest stuff runs on a September start date, right? 🙂

I’ve been totally immersed in Culture Month this summer — it’s everything that my internship is leading up to. Half my time is spent on Culture Month initiatives themselves — things like helping with a magazine that’s just been released, highlighting the fall arts season in Calgary (which you can find here), pulling together other support material, and getting outside and handing out postcards and other marketing materials.

And, of course, getting the new arts and culture website, CalgaryCulture.com ready to launch. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks inputting events and making sure that the calendar is as up-to-date as possible before we launched this week, and my inbox is full of emails of even more events that need to go into it. It’s an exciting site, and if you’re in Calgary, you should really bookmark it, sign up for the newsletter, and make sure you submit your own events to it. It already is — and will continue to become — the hub for arts and culture news in the city.

The other half of my time has been spent working on the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts, an awards night that recognizes the partnerships between arts organizations and the businesses that support them, celebrating the fact that these two components are such a significant part of what makes any city what it is. It’s going to be a fun evening (and will really be the end of my internship — I leave for California two days after the event!), and I’ve had a lot of fun working on the steering committee, meeting people from across the arts sector.

So this is Culture Month. Calgary is the first city in Canada to designate an entire month to publicizing and advocating the arts. Several provinces have provincial arts days, and there are some long-term plans to create a national arts days, celebrating arts and culture across the country. We’ll see what happens with municipal arts days, and how other cities take up the challenge to put their arts and culture at the forefront of the city’s collective mind for 30 days.

The thing is, there’s all kinds of amazing work happening all year, and September is just the kickoff. It’s a city-wide celebration and a fantastic way to honor the creative industries that form the heart and soul of the city.

So here’s my challenge to you:

Read more >>

It’s the little things

Aug 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, The Arts, Theatre  //  No Comments

A few things that are disappointing me (just a little bit) right now:

Standing Ovations

We saw two shows this weekend. One of them deserved a standing ovation. The other was okay, but not brilliant. However, they both received ovations.

It’s sad that the power of a standing ovation has been lost — it’s expected, for the most part, that an adequate performance will receive a standing O, and the power of that collective moment of awe that drives the audience to its feet has been lost.

As an audience member, the automatic expectation of an ovation takes away my power to respond in some way to a performance that deeply moves me or is in some way excellent enough to be acknowledged beyond simple applause. As a performer, the ubiquity of standing ovations takes away that next level of connection with the audience. It removes the breathlessness of knowing that this show garnered a reaction above the ordinary.

When standing ovations lose that power, what’s left? Standing on the seats to elevate the praise to another level?

I don’t stand for every curtain call. I’m not letting the fact that everyone else is standing up take the power of my own reaction away from me. It does, however, mean that I don’t always get to see the curtain call, which kinda sucks.

Facebook

Or rather, what Facebook tells me about people. The Lion King has been on tour in Calgary and Edmonton this summer, and a lot of people have gone to see it. We saw it on Sunday, and it was fantastic. Truly. I’d been wanting to see it for years, but when I lived in New York, I didn’t have the opportunity, so it was finally time. Definitely worth it, and it’s the kind of show that it’s been great to hear people talking about, knowing that so many people are going (and taking their kids) to the theatre.

However, all summer, I’ve been seeing people’s Facebook statuses updated about how amazing Lion King is — which it is — but those updates seem to be at the expense of seeing the Fringe Festival or Shakespeare in the Park or the Folk Fest or the cultural festivals or any of the other — local — shows and events that are going on. I’ve seen exponentially fewer updates about those events, even though there have been a summer’s worth of festivals and things to see, than I have about one show. It’s a sad day when it’s a tour, as opposed to local work, that gets the most attention.

Broadway Tours

More specifically, the fact that Calgary is a place where things are seen on tour, 10 years after they’ve been something cutting-edge and on the cusp of what’s big and groundbreaking. I love this city, but there’s something to be said for living in a place where you can see those shows when they’re a) just opening, or b) (and even better) being developed and still just outside the realm of really being big. By the time they’re on tour, there’s really no more street cred to them. They’re just part of the mainstream culture, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but I like being ahead of the game.

That’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a few little things I wanted to get off my chest.

Tasting heaven

Aug 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  No Comments

Colin pointed out to me last night that I’m “not a small-church kind of girl.”

No, really?

Heh. I’ve been saying that for years. Just like I’m not a small-town kind of girl, I’m also not a small-church kind of girl. The thing is, though, it’s not about being big for the sake of being big; it’s about having the capacity to use so many more people’s gifts and to serve more people in varied and high-quality ways.

I’ve been involved in small churches, and there are things about them that are pretty great, but when it comes down to it, I’m a big-church girl. Foothills, with somewhere around 2000 people who call it their church home, is a church that’s on the small side of big. It’s not a huge mega-church, but it’s a fairly large church, and its size and commitment to growth is one of the things I love about it.

Strange, then, that while this was on my mind, I came across this today: The Fruit of a Large/High-Impact Church. It’s a good read—7 things that are significant about the large church.

So… go read it.

Yeah, that’s it. I just wanted to point you in that direction. I don’t really have a commentary on it—except to say that his point #7 is a fantastic counterpoint to this post about creativity and the city. Big churches and big cities: Both of them preparing us for and giving us a taste of heaven. I think that deserves some more thought and contemplation.

What we do best

Jul 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith, School  //  3 Comments

Ever feel like there’s a message that keeps hitting you over the head, getting more and more obvious?

John Cosper, a Christian playwright and filmmaker, posted a manifesto about “Christian films,” particularly talking about what needs to change. It’s a great read, and I wholeheartedly agree — and if you’ve ever heard me talking about many, many Christian scripts, you’ll have heard the same concepts as they relate to very specific pieces that I’ve worked on.

However, the broad meaning of his manifesto isn’t what struck me most today. Instead, it was the following paragraph:

Seek out the best teacher or mentor you can. Don’t go to a Christian teacher just because they’re a Christian. Go somewhere that you can learn from a true artist, one who is a master of the craft in their own right. In other words don’t seek to be the best Christian writer/actor/director you can be. Seek to be the best writer/actor/director you can be.

A few hours later, a very different entry popped up on my RSS reader. Cole Matson, a theatre artist and C.S. Lewis scholar, is writing a series of posts on his transition from the Protestant church to the Catholic church, and it’s a fascinating and deeply personal story. Today, part of his entry talked about the decision to go to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, rather than Wheaton College, for his undergrad:

I had loved Wheaton, and had been in awe of its existence as an intentional Christian community of scholars “for Christ and His Kingdom,” as Wheaton’s motto goes. However, I also wanted to study to become a professional actor, and Wheaton did not have a theatre major, much less a professional training program. As a matter of fact, there did not seem to exist a Christian college of Wheaton’s faithfulness and academic caliber that also provided professional arts training. (This gap is one I hope the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s C.S. Lewis College can fill.) The other school to which I had been accepted was NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which has one of the top undergraduate theatre programs in the country. I asked my dad, who I knew was pleased that I had fallen in love with his alma mater, for his advice. He said:

“What do you want to do?”

“Become an actor.”

“Then go where they do that best. In this case, that’s not Wheaton.”

Twice, in very different contexts, the concept of choosing a school or other training for its quality rather than for its theology.

Two things strike me as I think about that.

Read more >>

Parading through tradition

Jul 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  2 Comments

The Stampede parade is tomorrow, kicking off 10 days of free pancakes, fireworks, and free concerts. And, of course, we’re going to the parade on Friday morning and to the grounds. Twice.

A lot of Calgarians have a love-hate relationship with the Stampede, but we love it, cowboy cliches and all. Colin and I are both third-generation Calgarians, which is increasingly rare in this booming, diverse city, and my great-grandfather was at the first Stampede in 1912. We’re looking forward to the 2012 Stampede — I’m not sure if there has been a member of either of our families at every single Stampede in the last 100 years, but I’m sure it’s close, and barring any extreme circumstances, we’ll be well-represented at the centennial.

Read more >>

Culture gets personal

Jul 1, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Real Life  //  1 Comment

On the surface, I’m a Canadian who moved to the U.S. in August, 2005 and has been splitting my time between both countries since then — about 18 months (plus vacations) of the last 4 years have been spent in Canada. Culturally and definitively, I’m Canadian, having spent the first 24 years of my life north of the 49th parallel in a time when Canadian identity was going through phases of being defined as, “Well, I’m not sure what we are, but we’re not American!”, but it’s still a bit more complicated than just being an ex-pat or an immigrant. (Side note: As a kid, I always thought it was so funny that my mom was an immigrant, because to me, immigrants came on ships in the 1800s and early 1900s, had to learn a new language, and travelled in steerage.) Growing up with a dual citizenship and choosing to relocate as an adult have put me somewhere on the scale of Canadian-ish and American-ish, and where I fit on the scale completely depends on the day.
Read more >>

Pages:12»

Blog Categories

Contact Me