Building up the scene
One of the many constants in life is the proliferation of haters in every city. It doesn’t seem to matter where you live, there’s going to be people who blame the city for everything that they can’t do and everything they are not.
In my first arts story for The Reflector this year I interviewed former Calgary DJ — The Reverend Reno, Ryan “Reno” Muenz. One half of C’est Dangereux, we talked about the Calgary music/party scene. What Muenz had to say has stuck with me over the past year.
“Everybody thinks it’s so cool somewhere else, man,” said Muenz. “Well, if you keep chasing cool you’re never going to find it because you have to do it yourself. If you’re just looking for a place where things are happening and you need somebody to do it for you you’re never going to find it. And if you do, it’s not going to be that fun. You can do it yourself, you build the scene.”
While not everyone can build the scene, they certainly can support it. The eight festivals profiled on pages 10 and 11 are only a small example of what’s happening in Calgary. The claim that we don’t have culture is pure fiction. We have festivals and events covering every genre of music, festivals and community parties supporting the growing diversity of our city and a strong theatre and arts scene happening year-round.
The challenge facing many independent artists is having the opportunity to show their work. Anywhere. In a city of one million there is a huge potential audience waiting to see what is offered up. Pairing the two together isn’t as simple as it seems.
Of the many grassroots initiatives happening in the city, the Factory Party series is one that has begun recently and grown exponentially. The first Factory Party was held eight months ago at Artlife Gallery and every installation has grown in attendance and submitted art. The idea behind the parties is simple. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory, photographer Randy Gibson invited emerging artists to submit art for a one-night party with live bands and DJs. Tickets were $5, the only advertisements were online and word of mouth built it up.
A pivotal point in the series occurred when the parties moved from the Artlife Gallery to the Uptown Stage & Screen and the Marquee Room. Ticket price went up $2 to accommodate the larger venue costs related to promotion and expansion. The fifth Factory Party is just around the corner, but it’s the sixth installation that is really going to put Calgary’s unknowns next to the established.
Factory Party 6 is slated for June 24, the launch party for the third annual Sled Island Festival. On the arts side of the party, Gibson plans to invite some larger, more established galleries to curate two walls with the artists they represent. The rest of the space will be for the art submitted by the independent artists in the city.
As this is the launch party for Sled Island, it makes sense to have some bigger names headline the party. Gibson hopes that some bands are able to perform as part of FP6 and their regular gig of Sled Island. Much like Sled Island itself, there will also be room for local bands as well.
The events and venues are out there and most importantly so are the people who make it happen. Many of the events are affordable, it’s key to get people to come out so being low-cost works in everyone’s benefit. And if that weekend seems to be devoid of events, remember that you can always make your own fun.