Recap: Trip the Light

trip the lightLast night was artsScene Edmonton’s Trip the Light, a unique after-hours party and showcase of local artists. With a brand new board for 2012, the event was a great introduction to the new artsScene Edmonton and is hopefully a sign of things to come. Trip the Light was completely sold out, so Sharon and I were lucky to be on the guest list – thanks to artsScene for that! New co-chairs Erin Elizabeth Ross and Miranda Wulf and their team put on one heck of a party – it was certainly the place to be in Edmonton yesterday evening.

We asked Erin where the name came from, and she said it was a play on the phrase “trip the light fantastic”. As Wikipedia explains, the phrase has come to mean dancing in an imaginative manner. In the sixties and seventies, it was commonly used to mean “let’s go out and have a great time!” The organizers decided to drop the “fantastic” to shorten it, but wanted to channel that message.

Held at the Breakfast Television Studios, Trip the Light was an opportunity for people to experience an unconventional event space in the heart of downtown. I understand that it took a lot of negotiation and compromise to secure the space, but it was totally worth it. The studio worked really well as a venue, with lots of room for a stage, DJ tables, a photo booth, two bars, and more. Guests even got to sit on the BT Edmonton couch, and the Good Women Dance Collective partied in the elevator! It was particularly cool that they left the cameras and lots of other equipment in the studio. One of the monitors was setup with Twitterfall tuned to the very popular #tripthelight hashtag.

Trip the Light

Trip the Light
Ryan Jespersen

Trip the Light
Miranda & Erin

After DJ Alex Faid had gotten everyone warmed up, Mitch Holtby (aka Mitchmatic) got up on stage to perform his high energy mix of rap and music creation. A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Mitch impressed the crowd by playing the saxophone in the middle of rapping. Follow @Mitchmatic on Twitter to find out where he’s performing next!

Trip the Light
DJ Alex Faid

Trip the Light

The headline performer was local rock band Scenic Route to Alaska, made up of Trevor Mann on guitar and vocals, Murray Wood on bass, and Shea Connor on drums. They had back-to-back shows last night – fortunately their first gig at the Yellowhead Brewery was not far away! Sonic 102.9’s Band Of The Month for February, Scenic Route to Alaska did not disappoint. Follow @scenicalaska on Twitter for upcoming show announcements!

Trip the Light
Scenic Route to Alaska

Food was provided by Bistro La Persaud and consisted of two-bite quiche tarts and salad rolls. Yellowhead Brewery served up beer all evening, while wine was provided by Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery. There was a silent auction featuring the awesome Joker mural by The Daft Punk artist, and everyone left with a small piece of art also created by Daft Punk.

Trip the Light was lots of fun! Slightly reminiscent of Electric Circus, I think it showed what an awesome combination unconventional event spaces and local artists can be.

artsScene Edmonton will be hosting a new Behind-the-Scenes event this year with the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. For details on that and other upcoming events, keep an eye on the website and follow @artsSceneEdm on Twitter. To see more photos from Trip the Light, click here.

Recap: TEDxEdmonton 2011

More than 200 people attended the second TEDxEdmonton which took place on Saturday in the intimate Rice Theatre at The Citadel in downtown Edmonton. TEDxEdmonton is an “independently organized TED event” (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It’s pretty likely that you’ve seen a TED talk at some point – more than 900 have been made freely available on the TED site. The idea behind TEDx is simple: stimulate dialogue at the local level by adopting the 18-minutes-or-less format and creating a TED-like experience.

The theme for this year’s event was “seeds of innovation”:

We’re in the midst of an exciting era. We’re living in an interconnected knowledge economy shaped by the creative industries, information technology, and globalization. And we’re seeing a new generation of connected artists, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs emerging who can transform seeds of new ideas into bold new works, companies and products. At TEDxEdmonton 2011, we’ll meet some of these remarkable people, some from abroad, others from right here in our hometown. We promise you another dizzying day of inspiration, wonder and curious delight, as we experience the stories, visions, and passions of these bold individuals through the art of live presentation.

After last year’s edition, I’d say the bar for TEDxEdmonton was set extremely high. The production quality, the excellent speakers, and the time built-in for discussions were just a few of the reasons that so many people thought last year’s event was superb. Matching or exceeding that success was a tall order for the organizing committee this year, but I think it’s safe to say they nailed it.

First impressions are everything, and TEDxEdmonton did not disappoint. Upon registering, attendees were given a lanyard with a nice big nametag that had space on it for a photo. The next step was to have a mini-Polaroid photo taken that could be taped onto the nametag. It’s kind of strange to have a photo of yourself on your nametag (I mean, you can see my face, can’t you?) but the nametags were indeed a great keepsake from the event. More importantly, it was an opportunity for people to have some fun and to get creative. And they did!

TEDxEdmonton 2011

Last year’s stage was created by the University of Alberta’s Student Design Association and it was, in a word, remarkable. It was colorful and visually interesting, and was going to be difficult to top this year. Once again the SDA was tasked with creating the stage for TEDxEdmonton, and the design they came up with was just as impressive as last year’s. Less colorful but more vertical, the stage provided the perfect backdrop for the day’s presentations. It sounded complex too – they took inspiration from Edmonton itself and used light to plot points of interest from around the city on the design. You can see some work-in-progress photos of both stages at the SDA’s Flickr page. You can also follow them on Twitter!

TEDxEdmonton 2011

The day’s presentations were broken up into three sessions: Transformation, Unstoppable, and Provocative. There were ten presentations in all, plus three TEDTalks, one for each session. Local power-couple Ryan Jespersen and Kari Skelton were our hosts for the day, and they did a wonderful job of keeping things moving.

Ryan Jespersen & Kari Skelton

TEDxEdmonton 2011Vik Maraj, co-creator of Unstoppable Conversations, kicked things off with the first presentation. His talk centered around the idea that we need to be game-changing. He used the metaphor of a child learning to walk to make his point, saying that we need to “start trying to walk, and stop trying not to fall” if we want to be successful. His talk was full of great one-liners, like this one: “The future derives from creation, not from surviving it.” He was a great speaker, and was the right choice to lead off the day.

TEDxEdmonton 2011Our second speaker was Jessie Radies, founder of Live Local Alberta and owner of The Blue Pear restaurant. She talked about the importance of the local economy, through of mix of statistics and personal anecdotes. Her talk touched on the challenges of being a farmer in Alberta, noting that the average farm has experienced a net loss for the last 20 years. She also talked about her belief that a rising tide would lift all boats and her dedication to sourcing things locally. She issued a sort of challenge to the audience, saying that “by shifting a portion of our spending we can significantly change what our community looks like.”

TEDxEdmonton 2011Todd Babiak of the Edmonton Journal was up next to talk about the importance of story. Without question his talk was my favorite of the day, a sentiment echoed by many in the audience. His talk was the right mix of serious, funny, and thought-provoking. He talked about his kids, noting that children instinctively understand what a story is. We unlearn that knowledge as we get older, without even realizing it. Todd stressed the importance of having a story: “If you haven’t built your story, the most you can hope to achieve is mediocrity.” He also poked fun at cliches and jargon as he touched on authenticity, a section of his presentation that made everyone laugh. “You have to find the higher spiritual truth of your story in order for it to be effective,” he said. Finally, he got everyone thinking about writing their story by reminding us that “the longer you wait to tell your story, the more difficult it becomes.”

Our first TEDTalk of the day came next. We watched Steven Johnson’s talk titled Where good ideas come from. It was filmed in July 2010, and introduced the intriguing concept of the “liquid networks” found in London’s coffee houses. The key idea was that connecting ideas is more important than protecting them, because “chance favors the connected mind.”

Colleen Brown closed out the first session with an awesome musical performance. She’s a fantastic singer/songwriter and more than a few people in the audience proudly proclaimed that they were new fans as a result! It was a great way to end the morning.

TEDxEdmonton 2011

Lunch was next on the schedule and as with the rest of TEDxEdmonton it was anything but ordinary. Instead of individual lunches, groups of five or six people were given a wooden box filled with sandwiches, salads, drinks, and treats and were encouraged to eat together. Most groups ended up outside where the sun was shining and the streets were packed for the Edmonton Pride Parade. It was great to see discussions happening all over the place. Kudos to Elm Café and Duchess Bake Shop for the delicious food and the creative presentation!

TEDxEdmonton 2011 TEDxEdmonton 2011

The second session of the day began with another TEDTalk, Adora Svitak’s presentation rom February 2010 titled What adults can learn from kids. Her message is a powerful one, and I think everyone really enjoyed the talk. It’s definitely worth watching!

TEDxEdmonton 2011Our fifth speaker was Laura McIlveen, a chemical engineer at Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. She started out with a provocative statement – “You probably think that engineers aren’t sexy” – then proceeded to explain why engineers are in fact, sexy. Laura encouraged everyone to “think about the possibilities that don’t seem possible, because that’s what engineers do.” She outlined four key steps: ask questions, dream big, build a team, and make it happen. To help illustrate her point, Laura talked about natural fibers like straw and said “we can spin straw into almost anything!” She then showed of a longboard, made of hemp!

TEDxEdmonton 2011Veer Gidwaney, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of, was our next speaker. He said “we need to change how we live” and talked about some of the major challenges we face, such as “Mr. Couch and Mrs. Potato Chip”. Veer’s key message was that small acts make a movement, and he encouraged the audience to “go do good”. He also shared a big idea: “What if we as a nation were to commit ourselves in ten years to match our national debt in positive actions done?” Veer was a really strong speaker, clear and powerful.

After another “conversation and refreshment” break, we were back for session three. Anthony Atala’s TEDTalk titled Printing a human kidney kicked things off. It was filmed just a few months ago, and documents some of the incredible advancements that have been made in bio-engineering. Truly fascinating.

TEDxEdmonton 2011Our next speaker was Sheetal Mehta Walsh, a champion of microfinance and founder of She talked about entrepreneurship through the lens of her experiences in the slums of India. For her, entrepreneurship has become a way of life, and she had some very intriguing ideas. One of them was that she wants to be known simply as an “entrepreneur” rather than a “social entrepreneur”. She explained, “we should all be socially conscious.” Sheetal also talked about the importance of networking, saying “I often call my network my intellectual property.” She also had one of the unintentionally funny moments of the day, when she asked if everyone in the audience starts their day with Tim Horton’s coffee and no hands went up. I guess we were a Credo/Transcend/Starbucks crowd!

TEDxEdmonton 2011Meagan Kelly, a journalist and filmmaker, was our eighth speaker of the day. She gave an abbreviated talk on her debut film, a documentary that examines a young girl’s struggle to escape poverty on a garbage dump in the Philippines. The sights and sounds she shared were striking. One memorable moment was when Grace, the young girl featured in the film, started singing Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby”.

TEDxEdmonton 2011Our next speaker was Aaryn Flynn, the Studio General Manager of local game developer BioWare. He used the opportunity to discuss BioWare’s approach to innovation. “Innovation relies on diversity,” he said as he talked about the cultural diversity at the company. Another key tactic utilized by BioWare is to “decide at the last responsible moment.” The most memorable mantra from Aaryn’s talk was definitely “no play, no say”. Basically if you don’t play the game, you don’t get a say in its development. It’s easy to see how this might be applied to elsewhere too. Aaryn finished with a brief demo of Kinect support in the upcoming game Mass Effect 3, noting that it opens the door to a wide range gameplay and accessibility possibilities.

TEDxEdmonton 2011Last but not least, Minister Faust (Malcolm Azania) was the final speaker of the day. His talk was titled “The Cure for Death by Small-Talk”, the same name as his upcoming book. He was a great speaker to end on, as he got the crowd laughing, thinking, and probably doing some serious self-reflection all at the same time. Instead of asking “what do you do for a living” at a party, Minister Faust suggests asking “what do you do for fun?” He touched on the etymology of “conversation”, explaining that is all about “living together” and the way you treat people. He told the audience to “ask people questions that will connect you for life.” Minister Faust’s talk ran slightly over time, and after he left the stage our hosts had to skip through another thirty slides or so that he didn’t get to – he could have talked all afternoon!


While some of the day’s presentations were definitely better than others, all succeeded at inspiring and sparking a dialogue. The entire day was streamed online for free, and while some technical glitches made it difficult to watch during session one, many people tuned in for the rest of the day. Twitter was active all day long using the hashtag #TEDxEdmonton and the discussions are still ongoing!

TEDxEdmonton 2011

Before the day was finished, Ken Bautista took the stage to make some announcements:

  • TEDxEdmonton 2012 will take place next spring. The larger Maclab Theatre, which seats 500-600 people, has already been booked as the venue. Tickets will go on sale for 2011 attendees in the next few weeks.
  • The TEDxEdmonton Salon Series will be launching in 2012, a series of smaller scale TED-like events.
  • A new event is being planned for fall 2012 – TEDxEdmonton Education, focused on building and inspiring a learning revolution.

Stay tuned to the TEDxEdmonton website and Twitter for updates.

I think it’s safe to say that TEDxEdmonton 2011 was a big success. The organizing committee deserves a ton of credit for making such a world-class event happen here in Edmonton. Well done everyone!

TEDxEdmonton 2011 TEDxEdmonton 2011 Organizing Committee

You can see the rest of my photos from TEDxEdmonton here. Watch for video and other updates to be posted on the TEDxEdmonton website over the next few weeks.

City of Champions 2.0: The Edmonton Champions Project

Last night we held a launch event for The Edmonton Champions Project in the wonderful Tucker Amphitheatre at the The Citadel downtown. Over 150 community & business leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives, and other friends attended to find out more about the project. Our goal is to invest in 500 creative entrepreneurs over the next 5 years, with a focus on amplifying creative innovation in Edmonton, to help our amazing young creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs connect, do, and win in the new economy.

Edmonton Champions LaunchEdmonton Champions Launch

The reaction to last night’s presentation was everything we could have hoped for. Inspiring, exciting, necessary, motivational – those were some of the words people used when I asked them what they thought. It was a great opportunity to share some of the things we’ve been working on. Here are a few of the things Ken Bautista talked about.

Creative Entrepreneurs: The Future of Edmonton

Edmonton needs entrepreneurs. Tech entrepreneurs. Creative entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs bring vision, create solutions to problems, and transform new ideas into bold new companies, new approaches in established organizations, new products, and new jobs in every industry, in every sector, profit and non-profit.

This is about building an ecosystem that attracts and empowers creative entrepreneurs. Edmonton has most of the pieces, but to date, our ecosystem has been fragmented. We need a bottom-up approach to cultivating this ecosystem, fueled by entrepreneurs who will create the kind of competitive deal flow that attracts investment and capital.

He showed a great diagram of some of the things this ecosystem needs to thrive:

Our initial strike is focused on four of those things: networks, spaces, accelerators, and seed funds.

Four Initial Strategies

  1. Networks: Connecting young creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs with experienced mentors.
  2. Accelerators: Intensive development programs where ideas are transformed into market-ready products.
  3. Spaces: Creative/entrepreneurial hubs where the collision between great ideas and people can happen.
  4. Seed Funds: Pooled, leveraged funding invested at the earliest seed stage of creative development.

There are some exciting things happening here. We have been very successful at cultivating networks, with Startup Edmonton and artsScene Edmonton, and that will continue. We’re close to securing our space downtown, a creative hub for Edmonton entrepreneurs that will enable the collision between great ideas and people. And later this year, Edmonton’s first startup accelerator will officially launch – we call it Flightpath. Created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Flightpath will invest in 30 startups in the software and digital media space over three years at a cost of $1 million. An important part of that funding will come from private investors.

Edmonton Champions Launch

Edmonton Champions Launch

We’re really excited to have Chris LaBossiere and Don Riep from Yardstick Software on board as our first vision sponsors and investors. Additionally, Mayor Stephen Mandel announced last night that he too will join us as an initial investor in Flightpath!

City of Champions 2.0

This is about mobilizing our best – a new community of champions who are visionary, relentless, and unstoppable, and who together, will define Edmonton’s place in the new global economy.

  • More entrepreneurs in Edmonton: Amplifying creative innovation and empowering more Edmontonians to create and build, anchored by a central creative/tech hub located in the downtown core.
  • Job creation across new industries: Startups generate job creation that will build the new industries of the 21st century and solve some of our toughest global challenges.
  • Improved deal flow: We collaborate with existing Angel/VC networks to ensure investor readiness for companies coming out of the accelerator. Private equity is then deployed more effectively into stronger startups in order to grow and scale.
  • Stronger entrepreneurial culture: The wider community is invited to participate in larger events, creating further opportunities for high-impact entrepreneurship education.

Another thing Ken said really resonated with me. One of the first slides he showed said: “Go. Win. And stay connected. Edmonton is homebase.” It’s important to see what’s out there, to get connected with other creative, entrepeneurial people. But let’s connect that back to Edmonton.

We Need Your Help!

Tegan Martin-Drysdale, the new community co-chair of Edmonton Next Gen, spoke for a few minutes in support of the initiative. It was important to have her there because obviously we’re not the only ones pushing this transformation forward. Next Gen, interVivos, JCI, and dozens of other organizations are helping to make our vision a reality. And that’s really important, because we need to work together. There are four key ways you can help us take The Edmonton Champions Project forward:

  1. Champion: Help us share this vision!
  2. Sponsor: We’re volunteers and we need resources to keep moving. Thanks to Yardstick and Capital Power for making the launch event a success.
  3. Invest: We’re seeking investors for our first Flightpath fund. Help us get in front of the right people and consider investing yourself.
  4. Start Something: Everything we’re doing will be for naught if you aren’t out there starting companies and acting on your ideas!

Edmonton Champions Launch

Thank you to everyone who attended the launch event last night. As I wrote back in November when we first introduced The Edmonton Champions Project, I’m very excited about the direction we’re heading and consider myself lucky to be a part of it! Stay tuned to our website for more information.

You can see more photos from the launch event here. We’ll have video up at some point too.

Edmonton Champions: Connect. Do. Win.

Today I’m very excited to help launch The Edmonton Champions Project:

The Edmonton Champions Project is a new network dedicated to continually identifying and celebrating the work of visionary individuals wherever they are, in our city and around the world. Led by a group of young Edmontonians and grassroots nonprofits artsScene Edmonton and Startup Edmonton, it’s part of a plan to transform Edmonton into a creative and entrepreneurial hub that connects us with each other and the world. Because together, we will shape Edmonton as a formidable community of champions, built to connect, do, and win in the entrepreneur economy of the future.

This is about mobilizing our best – a new community of champions who are visionary, relentless, and unstoppable, and who together, will define Edmonton’s place in the new global economy.

The project’s three pillars – Connect, Do, Win – are key to making our vision a reality.

We do a lot of connecting already, but there’s always room for improvement. artsScene Edmonton is an excellent way for young creative and business professionals to connect with each other, and with our city’s established arts organizations, through events like Behind the Scenes and TEDxEdmonton. Startup Edmonton is connecting designers, programmers, tech entrepreneurs, and investors, through events like Startup Drinks and DemoCamp. And there are so many other organizations doing a great job of connecting – Edmonton Next Gen with Pecha Kucha, Emerging Business Leaders, interVivos, JCI Edmonton, M.A.D.E. in Edmonton, to name just a few. We connect over coffee, we connect at tweetups, and we connect online. Great things happen when we get connected and work together.

Entrepreneurs are doers, they get things done. Entrepreneurship is something all of us can embrace, whether we’re artists, engineers, or MBA’s. Ideas are useless unless you can execute them, and that’s the mentality we need to fully embrace here in Edmonton. With so many intelligent, creative people, we’re bound to have some amazing ideas. If we can also put those ideas into action, with mentorship, investment, and other supports, we’re going to be very competitive in the new global economy.

As we say on the website:

Edmonton has always been a city of winners – a city of champions. We believe that being a champion extends beyond the realm of sport. Champions achieve excellence, overcome adversity, and have the will to win and succeed.

We need not be shy about our successes! Instead, let’s tell Edmontonians and the world about all of the people and organizations that make our city great. This is what The Edmonton Champions Project is all about.

I’ve put a lot of thought into how we can take Edmonton forward, and there’s no doubt in my mind that The Edmonton Champions Project is going to help.

If Edmonton is going to make its mark in this new global economy, the time to act is now. This is why we’re asking you as young leaders to stand with us. To connect, do, and win. Be an Edmonton Champion.

Stay tuned for more on The Edmonton Champions Project in 2011. If you’re interested, let’s get connected! Fill out our simple form here, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Recap: artsScene Edmonton boardLink

Tonight was the first ever boardLink event in Edmonton, hosted by artsScene Edmonton with partners Emerging Business Leaders, InterVivos, and JCI Edmonton and held in the Shoctor Lobby at The Citadel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend, but I’m glad I did. Here’s what it was all about:

boardLink is a national program that was created by Business for the Arts in 2002. Since its start, boardLink has connected hundreds of young professionals with volunteer opportunities in various arts and culture communities throughout Canada with boardLink Online and boardLink Live events.

You can think of it like speed dating for local arts organizations and potential volunteers. The organizations on hand tonight included: The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton Opera Association, Mile Zero Dance, Edmonton Jazz Festival Society, The Works International Visual Arts Society, The Art Gallery of Alberta, LitFest: Edmonton International Literary Festival, Fringe Theatre Adventures, Latitude 53, and Alberta Foundation for the Arts. There were roughly 50 potential volunteers in attendance.

artsScene Edmonton boardLinkartsScene Edmonton boardLink

At the beginning of the event, everyone was given five small post-it notes to paste on the agenda BarCamp-style, indicating which organization they wanted to check out in each rotation. The rotations themselves were 15 minutes each, so you had to be quick meeting an arts organization and introducing yourself. It wasn’t one-on-one, instead each arts organization had at least two volunteers and there were three or more potential volunteers in each group.

I did three rotations: Fringe Theatre Adventures, The Art Gallery of Alberta, and Latitude 53. The three could not have been more different! No one really knew what to do (so I guess it really was like speed dating in that way) but Sam and Thomas from FTA did a good job of giving an overview of the organization and the opportunities available. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to chat. In stark contrast to them, Allan and Priscilla from the AGA relied on us to prompt them with questions. It was a little awkward, but they were definitely excited about their new building. Finally, Todd and Vieri were very casual, funny, and off-topic. I enjoyed chatting with all of them.

It became clear to me as the evening unfolded that there’s a big disconnect between young people such as myself, and the arts organizations that were in attendance. We don’t know how to communicate with one another.

It was even evident during the opening remarks – EBL, InterVivos, and JCI were all well-spoken and informal human-sounding, talking about the great things they wanted to accomplish together. Penny from The Citadel congratulated everyone for coming and showing an interest, and ended by announcing a two-for-one offer for attendees. It just seemed tacky and out of place.

artsScene Edmonton boardLinkartsScene Edmonton boardLink

I’d say the event was a successful one, but it’s the follow-up that will truly determine the outcome. Everyone filled out a “volunteer profile” that will be circulated to the arts organizations so they will contact individuals who might be a good fit. More importantly, I hope artsScene puts on additional boardLink events in the future so that we can work on that communication disconnect!

Be sure to check out the artsScene Edmonton blog and Twitter for updates. You can see the rest of my photos from tonight here.

artsScene Edmonton Summer Party – August 20th

Back in May I attended the launch party for artsScene Edmonton – a fantastic event at Planet Ze Design Centre in Old Strathcona. I had a great time, and suggested that artsScene events could become “must attend” events for local creatives. The first test of that is coming up next week:

On August 20, we’re ready to bring you our second party – a “Jekyll & Hyde” themed summer party that promises to be bigger and better, with two venues, more featured artists, DJs, and live music acts!

They have since announced the performers, and they include: Kerri-Lenn Zwicker, Jay Sparrow, Field + Stream, The Outdoor Miners, and guest DJs The Cake Eaters and Roland Pemberton III.

The “Jekyll” part of the event starts at 6pm at Latitude 53 (10248 106th Street), while the “Hyde” part gets underway at 9pm at Prohibition (11026 Jasper Avenue). Tickets are just $15 online or $20 at the door and include access to both venues. You can pickup your tickets here.

Don’t forget artsScene Edmonton is on Twitter, Facebook, and they have a mailing list. They also recently joined LinkedIn, so get connected!

Hope to see you on the 20th!

artsScene Edmonton Launch Party

Tonight I attended the artsScene Edmonton Launch Party at Planet Ze Design Center in Old Strathcona. I was quite excited when I heard back in April that the initiative was coming to Edmonton, because I think it’s a great idea. From the press release:

artsScene is a new initiative that brings together young business and creative professionals (ages 18-40) to grow the arts, culture and creative industries in our community. artsScene is an initiative of Business for the Arts, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting business leadership in the arts, facilitating funding relationships and connecting business volunteers to the arts. artsScene has been established in Toronto, Halifax and Montreal, and now Edmonton and Calgary.

Tonight’s event was a party, one of five different types of events that artScene will be hosting. Others include BoardLink (speed networking), Roundtables (breakfast sessions), Behind the Scenes (engage with artists), and a Creative Summit (two-day conference). The next event will be a BoardLink in June, followed by a summer party in August.

artsScene EdmontonartsScene EdmontonartsScene EdmontonSharon & MackMichael & KenCadence Weapon

Featured artists this evening included Denise Lefebvre, Patrick Higgins, and Shelby Wallace. Other special guests were Edmonton’s newest poet laureate Roland Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon), and DJ Marc it Fresh (Marcus Coldeway). CBC Radio3 was also in attendance. Organizers said over 100 tickets were sold ahead of time, and there was strong interest at the door. I’d say there was easily 125 people there by the time I left. It was a good mix of people too! SmibsTV was recording some interviews, so keep an eye on their site for video.

I think artsScene events could quickly become “must attend” events for creative professionals in Edmonton. Check out the website, and stay connected – artsScene Edmonton is on Twitter, Facebook, and has a mailing list. You can see my photos from this evening here.