Nuit Blanche Calgary getting ready for 2014

Artists will get up close and personal at Olympic Plaza in September

Nuit Blanche Calgary is moving ahead with plans for the 2014 event and several artist projects are already in the works. The one-night-only arts extravaganza in downtown Calgary which debuted in 2012 as part of Calgary’s year as a Cultural Capital will take place on Saturday September 20 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

After taking a year off in 2013 founding curator and board member Wayne Baerwaldt says organizers decided to hold the event every other year due to the amount of time and money required to pull it off. “We decided — why are we propelled to do it on an annual basis?” he adds. “We are asking artists to produce original commissioned work…. and that’s very intensive and expensive.”

Baerwaldt expects the 2014 event will have a similar footprint to the original which extended from Olympic Plaza to the municipal building. So far the plans include 10 to 12 new works on platforms throughout the area although it’s possible that number could grow.

The 2014 event will also retain the character of the first Nuit Blanche Calgary with a focus on direct contact between the artists and the audience that in many cases will involve the “intimate transition of sound.”

“We are really trying to stay true to the artists’ vision of what they’d like to do” Baerwaldt says. “It all takes months and months.”

Some of the projects being planned include:

• Three artists from Lethbridge will perform as psychics each occupying a tent where they will meet with people individually or in small groups.

• Toronto artist Diane Borsato is planning to invite about 100 people at a time to join a group meditation in the Olympic Plaza reflecting pond for two-hour periods ultimately involving more than 300 individuals.

• Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan of Winnipeg will be welcoming people into a cabin of an airliner where stewards and stewardesses will perform for 20 to 30 people at a time.

• Wednesday Lupypciw of Calgary will create a call centre staffed with her own look-alikes behind a frosted window and people will be able to phone and talk to them. “So you just see the profile of these figures answering the phone and they will all have a Wednesday look to them” Baerwaldt explains.

• Sal Howell who is better known locally as the owner of River Cafe and Boxwood will perform using food as one of her mediums.

• Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay a former member of the Young Canadians who now lives in Berlin will present a “singing forest” on the south side of city hall using live and recorded voice.

• TouVa a group of artists from Montreal wants to offer a twist on the familiar Stampede breakfast by holding an all-night breakfast instead with a menu of activities as well as food.

Baerwaldt compares the Nuit Blanche Calgary experience to having a cup of tea with someone — it’s the conversation not the type of tea that’s memorable. “I think that’s what our goal is to really have some of the ideas behind each of these projects ring out and resonate with all kinds of people” he explains.

That focus also differentiates Calgary’s event from Nuit Blanche in other cities such as Toronto. Baerwaldt describes Calgary’s event as more intimate and community-based and less corporate and booze-fuelled — not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying a cocktail of course but families should feel welcome. “We wanted a little more integrity” he explains.

He expects the number of people who show up for the 2014 will grow — they anticipated about 300 in 2012 but Baerwaldt says thousands attended. The city won’t extend transit hours for the event — only the Stampede gets that honour — but Nuit Blanche Calgary is working with Car2Go to have a fleet of cars in the area.

More details will be available in coming months at nuitblanchecalgary.ca .