Cultural café to bring artists together
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 06:00 am
The City of St. Albert cultural services department is taking to heart that old adage “there’s always room for improvement.”
In a move to link the city’s artistic innovators, the department is debuting its first cultural café on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Arden Theatre.
This networking opportunity is aimed at bringing together artists of every stripe, cultural organizations, and arts-friendly businesses and individuals.
“One of the ideas of the cultural master plan is that we have no opportunities for everyone in the cultural sector to get together and talk about what they’re doing and meeting other people,” says Tamsin Brooks, community cultural co-ordinator and event organizer.
“We want to bring together local artists, guilds, VASA, individuals and even businesses such as La Crema Caffé who support local artists,” she said.
Loosely based on Edmonton’s NextGen, the concept is aimed at engaging passionate community-minded individuals who will create opportunities for people. It’s a way of getting culture to work for the community.
She envisions a future where even unlikely partnerships can be made – possibly between woodcarvers and a historic site, or a floral artist and a theatre company or a poet and dance group.
“The more connections you have as an artist, the more exposure you have,” she said.
St. Albert playwright Tracy Aisenstat agrees and plans to attend the café. She has written about a dozen plays and enjoyed moderate success with Crossword Puzzles, winner of Walterdale’s One Act Festival, and two Shakespearean spoofs – Don’t Argue with Bill and To Sleep Perchance to Dream.
As a playwright, she mostly works alone, which often leads to feelings of isolation, of working in a vacuum, where honest, encouraging feedback is unavailable.
Aisenstat studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia and found the classroom experience completely supportive. But after leaving the great halls of learning, she discovered a more cutthroat environment where only a certain small number of plays are staged annually.
In an effort to network, she joined Vancouver’s Betty Lambert Society, a committee of professionals and newbies.
“They were simply not interested in nurturing new people so I was skeptical of writing support groups,” she said.
But after moving to St. Albert in 1999 Aisenstat saw the flip side of the coin after meeting writers Candace Jane Dorsey and Timothy Anderson.
“I was floored at how people were interested in what I was doing and showed me avenues of support.”
Now working as volunteer co-ordinator for the International Children’s Festival, she believes a cultural café will benefit numerous solo artists and groups.
“Just to bring awareness is important. For instance, a group like St. Albert Theatre Troupe, I don’t know how many people are aware they have open auditions. And as a start-up arts organization they need actors, directors, designers, costume people and music. The café is not only a way to tap into resources, but also discover new opportunities.”
The cultural café starts at 5:30 p.m. Snacks will be served.