Browsing articles tagged with " calgary"

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 >>

Best of all worlds

Jan 25, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Real Life  //  No Comments

One of the things that disappoints me most about Calgary is the lack of foresight in the city’s planning. It’s a city that has exploded in the past decade, and the foundation hadn’t been laid in the decades before to sustain such rapid growth. It’s still a city that’s scrambling for its infrastructure to catch up to the population growth, and while it’s growing well in many areas, there are many where the city is being held back by its own short-sightedness.

Imagine what it would be like today if city planners had believed, 40 or 80 or 100 years ago that Calgary has the potential to be a world-class city — to someday stand up against any great city in the world in its arts and culture, industry, nature, and people. Imagine what it would be like if, when it was a city of 100,000 people, city planners had dreamed — and planned — ahead to Calgary as a city of 5 million, instead of seeing it grow to a small city in the something-hundred-thousand range. Imagine how much further ahead we could be now if, instead of playing catchup with roads and transit and infrastructure, the city was able to allocate those resources differently. If Calgary had the resources to be a city friendly to a large population, rather than struggling to sustain it and finding ways to both grow and retroactively fit at the same time.

What would it look like now if the dreams had been bigger then?

I’m on the brink of several new adventures, both career-wise and otherwise, and I’m looking at the steps ahead and finding ways to dream big. As I’m stepping out into a career as a freelance producer and consultant, what does it mean to dream big — and more than just dream big, to plan big? To lay the foundation for whatever success I want to see come my way? To create a starting point that can lead to something big — or to something smaller?

If I plan for the best, the smaller result will always fit into the larger foundation. Being over-prepared for a more humble end point is never a bad thing, but anticipating something small can be disastrous when the opportunity for something bigger comes along. What a waste of time, money, energy, and potentially opportunity it is if I have to do the work to retrofit myself or my projects to sustain something grander than anything I’d originally dreamed.

So tell me. What does it mean for you to lay the foundation with an eye to the best possible outcome?

Let’s get back to business

Jan 11, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Real Life, School  //  No Comments

Well, Christmas is over, and I had absolutely no contingency for any sort of regular updates during the last month of school and over the break, but it’s time to get back to posting regularly. For that matter, it’s time to get life back into a routine of some sort, even though I don’t really know — yet — what that routine will look like.

It’s been a wonderfully relaxing few weeks; time for both Colin and I to decompress from our very busy fall seasons. We’ve spent more time sitting in front of the TV in the past 3 weeks than we did in the rest of 2009 combined. I think the past few weeks have included season 1 of Dexter and Weeds, seasons 1 and 2 of Chuck (in preparation for the season 3 premiere last night), season 2 of Friends… and I know I’m missing something, but those are the ones that stand out right now. Read more >>

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 >>

The best thing about WorldSkills

Sep 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The 40th WorldSkills competition has been held in Calgary this past week — basically, it’s like the Olympics of the trades. Over 900 competitors from over 45 countries competing in 45 categories, ranging from plumbing to cooking; confectionaries to floral design; robotics to landscaping; cabinet-making to HVAC; interior design to web design; health and beauty services to fashion design. We spent a few hours wandering through, and it was a very cool experience (even though we were there for the last 3 hours of the last of 4 competition days, so we only caught the tail end of competition or finished products on display, rather than seeing the competition in full swing).

It’s the largest non-Stampede event ever held at Stampede Park; the largest event that Calgary has hosted since the ’88 Winter Olympics, with 2/3 the total number of Olympic competitors in ’88; the largest international competition after the Olympics; and quite groundbreaking for the WorldSkills competition itself, with a rather long list of “firsts” happening this year.

And the thing I was most grateful for this week?

Good weather.

I want Calgary to be recognized as the world-class, internationally-renowned city that it can be, and unseasonally cold weather can overshadow those elements to the detriment of the city’s reputation. I feel like I’m the parent of a misbehaving child when guests come to Calgary and the stereotypes about cold Canadian weather (at least, cold weather that’s not, y’know, in winter) are confirmed. But this week, all the children have behaved, and instead of having 10-degree (Celsius, of course) weather or, worse yet, frost or skiffs of snow during the first week of September, we’ve had 30-degree weather and sunny skies all week. (And this weekend, it’s cooled off a bit, so it’s more seasonal, but still nowhere near the unseasonal early-September frost and/or snow that we sometimes get.)

Because isn’t it nice that the world can go back home saying, among all the other raves and accolades about Calgary that are sure to be shared, that — hey, guess what? — Canada isn’t always cold!

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.

Catching Up

Aug 7, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

And I’m back. Wow. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and I’m definitely feeling it. This weekend is the first that we’re in Calgary with almost nothing going on since… oh, Father’s Day, give or take. I’m looking forward to it. Of course, when I say that we’ve got “nothing going on,” I mean that our schedule includes two Fringe shows tonight (both of us), a workshop tomorrow morning (me), an appointment at the bank tomorrow afternoon (both), coffee with a friend sometime this weekend (both), mixing the Passion Play recordings (Colin), and a date night tomorrow night (we still haven’t used a gift card that Colin’s parents gave us for Christmas in 2007, and it’s going to expire soon if we don’t use it!).

I have at least three entries rolling around in my brain, bumping up against each other and refining themselves as I continue trying to get them down on paper. Screen. Whatever. For now, though, I’m going to do a “Weekly” update. In other words, I’m going to try my hardest to remember what I’ve watched, listened to, read, experienced, and been working on in the past few weeks. It may not be the most complete list I’ve ever put together, but I’ll see how I do.

Read more >>

Pictures and other such fun

Jul 29, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

We’re heading out of town bright and early tomorrow morning, off to Colorado for my cousin’s wedding and to see family that I haven’t seen since the last family vacation I went on in high school. Colin and I, my sister and brother-in-law, my parents, and my brother will be piling into two cars and spending a long weekend on the road together, and it should be a grand ol’ time, especially since this is both Colin and Justin’s first time meeting that side of the family (and Colin gets to meet them with pink hair!).

I’ll be back next week with some posts that have more substance than talking about my pink hair, but in the meantime, you should check out the photo album and see the pink hair for yourself!

Enjoy your long weekend — if you’re in Canada, that is. See you on the other side…

The five of us at the end of the walk.

The five of us at the end of the walk.

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