This week, I visited Prince Albert for the Lakeland District for Sport, Culture & Recreation Annual General Meeting. They were kind enough to invite me out to make a presentation on Culture Days, and to let me present at the very top of the agenda so I could make it home to Saskatoon for another commitment.
On having a conversation with someone after the meeting, I was struck by something. What a treat it is to be employed in a position where you can go out and talk to people about arts and culture, and have people listening with genuine engagement. Too often, when artists try to talk to community stakeholders or professionals in other lines of work, there is this feeling of “oh, here the artists go again.” Its incredibly discouraging as an artist to see the eyes in people’s heads glaze over as soon as you start talking about the importance of the work that you do, or the need for community support.
However, something much different happened at this meeting. Instead, I saw people lean forward. I saw ears perk up. People asked intelligent questions. All around the table you could see interest as people thought about how Culture Days might apply or work within their own communities, and how the Animateur program might work for them.
I told a story at the meeting that I tell often. I moved to Toronto not too terribly long after theatre school in order to pursue my career. However, I was struck after spending some time in the city that there is no inherent talent or artistry in any city that sets it apart from others. There is more theatre in Toronto simply because its BIGGER. But, back home in Saskatchewan, i realized we had people who were just as talented, who cared just as much, and who also have an incredible sense of community, that is sometimes (but certainly not always) lacking in a centre like Toronto.
After this, I pointed out that I felt that Saskatchewan, because of that intrinsic sense of community that runs deep through our rural communities and our province, has a chance to be a leader on the national stage when it comes to Culture Days. To my delight, a representative from SaskCulture chimed up immediately, having just returned from a national meeting on the very subject. She declared to the meeting that this wasn't just my hope, but a REALITY, that had been demonstrated through last year’s Culture Days efforts. Instead of just hoping that something is true, now we have proof, and a model to build this year’s success on.
Which means, basically, that I can’t wait to get out to the next community and keep working!
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