Weird name good night

First PechaKucha Night in Calgary examines creative spaces in the city

The National Music Centre Pumphouse Theatre Mount Royal University’s Conservatory and Festival Hall are all cultural spaces on the horizon in Calgary. In addition to these arts spaces interesting designs including The Bow and Santiago Calatrava’s much-maligned Peace Bridge are springing up in our usually uninspiring architectural landscape.

So it seems like good timing for Calgary Arts Development (CADA) to introduce a new series to the city’s cultural milieu. PechaKucha Night is a discussion of architecture and how it affects our sense of place. Started in Tokyo this gathering now occurs in over 200 cities around the world. The premise is simple: Each speaker is allowed to use 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide to get their point across.

The topic of the first PechaKucha Night in Calgary is cultural spaces and will feature architects artists and a few guests from Toronto who have been creating innovative arts spaces.

Speakers include Andrew Mosker from Cantos Paul Dornian from The Conservatory Scott McTavish from Pumphouse and David Scott the lead architect on the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s new hall.

Coming from Toronto will be Tim Jones CEO of Artscape an organization that has been building innovative live-work and creative spaces in derelict heritage buildings. Billie Bridgman who founded Artscape and Joe Lobko the lead architect on several of Artscapes projects will also discuss their ideas and projects.

Local artist Eric Olson who opened the now-defunct Ideal art space will speak as well as Mark Lawes executive artistic director of Theatre Junction Grand.

“For a long time Calgary Arts Development has been really interested in having as much community conversation as possible around the agenda of creative space what we want our city to look like and how the arts play a leading role in that” says Karen Bell director of community investment at CADA.

The night is intended to be a casual affair she says with attendees encouraged to come and go grab a beer at the bar or if they so choose sit and listen to every word from every speaker.

Jeremy Sturgess a prominent local architect will also be presenting. “I’m going to be talking about how all of our projects are about place-making…. That’s always been really important to me whether we’re designing a house or something like the Water Centre or the [LRT] stations on Seventh Ave. or even The Bridges master plan” says Sturgess. “All of those things are about making place and I’ve always felt buildings have kind of a responsibility to do that. That’s sort of their integral contribution to the city to make a place out of something that isn’t there or if there is something remarkable there then to enhance that and serve it.”

With increased interest in architecture and with a recession under way which Sturgess feels leads to better attention to costs and therefore architecture it’s important to have public discussions about what’s going on.

“I think that as people understand that architecture is something that is worthy or necessarily requiring to have public comment I think people start to get more involved” says Sturgess. “So I think something like this is fantastic and to have it in The Grand is a great way to do it. Because The Grand I think is intended to be kind of a public forum.”