Talking ARTS on YMM Podcast

I had been to the studio of the YMM Podcast (aka Toddske's kitchen table) once before, back when we were talking about The Farnsworth Invention a couple of years ago, but I couldn't reconcile the house I was looking at with my memory of having been there before. So I called him up and made sure, not wanting to walk into the front porch of an unsuspecting family.

It turned out to be the right place and the venue for one of the most refreshing conversations I've had in a long time.

Toddske and Tito had invited me over to talk about the arts and my new role as interim Executive Director of Arts Council Wood Buffalo.  I was happy to oblige as they have been hugely supportive and influential in a number of different areas, not the least of which is their effort in bringing the filmmaking community together through the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association.  Their podcast has provided a powerful platform for important free-flowing discussions about a broad range of issues, out of the controlling reach of corporations or regulators.

Joining the fearsome duo around the table populated with six microphones, a small mixing board and a little laptop were Misty Oakes, award winning theatre director/practitioner and publicist for Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre; Steve Reeve, noted broadcaster and film actor; and Ashley Laurenson, an artist and creative spirit (aka @Ashcakesquiggle from the Twittersphere).

These young artists and communicators, all in that 25-35 age bracket, represent the exciting future for the arts in Wood Buffalo.  They each possess a fierce get-it-done sensibility, and use available time and resources in a way that is profoundly inspiring to a guy like me that has seen many creative people of all types come and go over the years.  Except for their insistence that nothing will hold them back, these creators and adventurers are a new breed, having avoided the shackles of entitlement and conformity.

We talked about lots of things related to funding and space, as those two issues seem to bubble to the top when it comes to expectations and needs related to the Arts Council.  We also talked about talking, facilitating meaningful dialogues, creative collision opportunities, coffee klatches for like-minded folks to discover each other, socialize and explore the question of what comes next.  Wouldn't it be great if we had a grassroots community arts centre (THECREATEPLACE), a gathering spot with good coffee, live music, art on the walls, spaces to create, rehearse and perform - a place with a magnetic quality that draws people in?

It was a great conversation with lots of passion, vision, and intention to make this great community even greater through support and encouragement for the arts.  Listen for it next week, when it gets released at


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