Optimistic Heart

There were two high points, for me, at the inaugural annual general meeting of Arts Council Wood Buffalo.  The first was watching and listening to the short entertainment showcase that preceded the meeting.  I had met pianist Mihir Gothal and musical theatre phenom Krithika Ramdas at a recent fundraising concert in support of the breakfast program at Timberlea Public School. Both 11 years old, they have incredible talent and shone brightly in front of this strong gathering of artists and arts supporters.

We also screened Shawn Watson's short film Michael Bay Breakfast featuring the acting talents of Francis Mennigke and Pattie Dwyer.  Delightfully funny, the 9-minute quest to find the prize in the cereal box reflects the exciting work that has been happening in the film/video realm in Wood Buffalo.

The showcase closed with the Northern Elements Crew reprising their award winning hip hop number from the Young Choreographer Ball which you can see on the Generation Dance Studio Facebook page.  There were amazing, and set the perfect tone for us to dive into the business of encouraging, supporting and elevating the arts.

But it was the speeches from the nominees that really blew me away.  I only wish that I was in the audience videotaping them, as they demonstrated a depth of passion, talent and vision that was extraordinary.  There is a collective desire to no longer accept what gets thrown at us (or doesn't) as artists and to step forward and become the masters of our own destiny.  That movement toward manifesting our desired future as a creative community has been building momentum for several years.  It was clear from the eloquent and dynamic words of our nominees, that there is a shared belief that Arts Council Wood Buffalo is an organization that can help propel us to the vision of being a place of vibrant arts and culture contained in the Municipal Development Plan and other visionary documents.

From Misha Albert's rousing opening speech to Toddske's heartfelt closing thoughts about wanting to make a difference for his 5 year old son Kingston, I could have sat there all night listening to the people who stepped forward as nominees for the board, 18 individuals in all.  The collected experiences, knowledge, educational and performance credentials, connectivity to the community and to their various constituencies, was truly remarkable.  We are blessed to have world-class people in our midst who want to commit their time and talents to moving the arts forward in Wood Buffalo through your Arts Council.

Ken Chapman used to say the mark of a good event is the level of lingering that happens when it is over.  Despite the fact that going through nine elections took a good chunk of time - we were edging toward 10 pm when we adjourned the meeting - there was tremendous energy, enthusiasm and conversations happening in the lobby for a long time afterwards.  It was fantastic!

It is with an optimistic heart that I look forward to 2014 and the impact that this council and board of directors will have on our community and region.


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