Dear Winnipeg

It’s been wonderful getting to know this city while working on Spur. I had been warned of the cold but, despite the freezing temperature, I found Winnipeg to be nothing but warm. While I’ve only become familiar with a small pocket of the city, I have been totally won over by Winnipeg.

Even as a lifelong Leafs fan I was impressed with how Jets fans pack the MTS Centre and make the ACC feel like a veritable library in comparison. The fans work hard. And the work ethic of players they cheer on, like Thorburn and Bogosian, is echoed elsewhere in the city—perhaps unexpectedly,  in the city’s many cultural venues. As a theatre producer myself, I was moved by how vital art feels in Winnipeg and also struck by a sense that Winnipeggers know that it takes hard work to create it.

Manitoba Theatre Centre has such a wonderful feature in its lobby: a window into the workshop where you can watch stage carps build set pieces and designers create costumes. It’s a wonderful idea—that patrons of the arts are given a glimpse into the world behind-the-scenes. I heard a few complaints that jeans are worn to performances at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but in my mind, this is a good sign that of the ballet’s accessibility.

Art isn’t an extra; it’s one of the strongest reasons why we come together to live in cities. And from the plethora of artist-run centres and galleries in The Exchange District to Canada’s oldest civic gallery, the WAG, you can see that art is thriving in Winnipeg. (WAG will be  the site of one of our artist-guided walking tours on Sunday April 28.)

The sense of work and, more importantly, the people that do that work, is echoed two hundred metres down the street from the MTS Centre at Manitoba Hydro’s stunning new headquarters. The building (designed by the architectural firm KPMB) is fantastic. I was particularly struck by how purpose-built it was, that it was so carefully designed with both its employees and the natural environment in mind. From cubicles structured with the highest regard to ergonomics to the amazing art on the walls and the unparalleled air-quality, it’s a triumph.  To get the inside scoop on the very special qualities of this Leed-platinum–certified building and it’s great art collection, I invite you to join us on one of the two walking art-and-architecture walking tours on Saturday April 27.

Whether it’s been at the University of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Cinematheque, Manitoba Hydro, MAWA, Plug In Gallery, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Platform Gallery . . . during my too-short visits to Winnipeg, I’ve met with smart, engaged and friendly people. I really look forward to continue working in Winnipeg.

 


Nick is Spur’s artistic producer. He is also the artistic producer of the RARE Theatre Collective and is currently at work on their new play, Borne (Soulpepper, 2014). RTC’s first play, RARE, premiered at the Toronto Fringe in 2012 and was remounted as part of Winter at the Young (Young Centre, 2013). Other recent projects include: Hooked (Arts and Letters Club, 2013; Summerworks, 2011); White Loop (Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, 2011); andThe New Yorker at Luminato. Nick was also the associate editor and co-founder of the multidisciplinary arts magazine,boulderpavement (Banff Centre Press).

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