What is Calgary 2012?
Calgary 2012 aims to showcase Calgary’s culture and create legacy projects to encourage future cultural achievements. Calgary’s bid to become the Cultural Capital of Canada by Canadian Heritage is a joint initiative and the winner will be announced in October or November.
How does Calgary 2012 benefit the city?
This is a chance for Calgarians to enjoy their own great city. It’s a hometown celebration, with plenty of legacy projects that will stay with the community for years to come.
Is the ultimate goal to win the bid?
Actually, that’s not really the ultimate goal. The thing is, in 1912 this city exploded with the population boom and saw the birth of a lot of cultural cornerstones we see today. The Calgary Stampede is 100 years old, the Calgary Public Library is 100 years old, parks and recreation, The Grand, the Pumphouse, which is now a theatre. I think we have a lot to celebrate in 2012 and I think these are compelling reasons why we should get the federal designation, but we’re going to go ahead and have a party anyway. And if the federal government wants to join the party, then they are certainly invited.
How did you become the creative producer for Calgary 2012?
They put out a call and after having a conversation with One Yellow Rabbit, the board and the festival, we thought that maybe it would be a good idea to put myself forward for this position, given that it’s a limited term. The festival is in great shape and it’s kind of a good opportunity all around, so I put my name forward and I was lucky enough to get the call.
What made you decide to pursue the position?
Well, I looked at the job description and the qualifications they were hoping to find in someone and I saw that the goals of 2012 are in lots of ways aligned with what we think the festival is about; how to enrich the community and draw out people’s appreciation for what makes Calgary unique. So ultimately, we decided that the festival could afford to have me take a leave of absence.
Even though it’s a temporary 18-month hiatus, will you miss the festival?
Yes, it’s still hard to leave, but I’ve got such a great team and a great office, too. I love this Cliff Bungalow area.
Who is taking over for you in the meantime?
Mark Hopkins is associate producer, mentoring directly under Erin O’Connor. The 2012 festival is ready to be rolled out and in the meantime, 2013 is very well developed at this point too, so it’s in good hands.
What are the biggest challenges you think you will face?
I think that one of the big challenges will be to get our message out to people across the whole city, including parts of the city that maybe aren’t often included when we talk about arts and culture in Calgary. It’s going to be very important to get on the other side of Deerfoot and also north and south and look for conduits to get our message right into the community — like schools, business revitalization zones and community groups.
What are you most excited about?
Meeting so many new people. I started out by connecting with people I know, mostly because you have to start somewhere, so I am covering those bases and I’m starting to figure out the people I need to meet beyond the circle I normally run in. I expect to meet all kinds of interesting people all over the city and I think that’s the most exciting part.