Top 7 Things I Learned from the Calgary Arts Champion Congress & Ben Cameron

Calgary Arts Champion Congress - Janice Tanton, Calgary Herald
I like to take the time to reflect and let things germinate. I find, even though at times, I want to jump in full force and comment on something, I miss those eventual nuggets of wisdom that come with the time taken to consider possibilities. After all….I’m an artist. That’s what I do. Consider, contextualize and reflect on the culture around me.

Last week, in the middle of a pivotal residency in my career, I took a day off to venture into Calgary to attend the Calgary Arts Champion Congress, connect with fellow artists in all disciplines and to hear keynote speaker Ben Cameron. (Ben heads the Doris Duke Foundation in the US and gave a very inspirational TEDx talk at YYC). What a cool opportunity!  The fine folks there had been working for some time to bring together artists, board members, and all wonderful arts-related supporters in the City of Calgary. Having “done time” in administration, I know the kind of dedication and planning it takes to mount an event such as this, and getting artists together at any time is a feat more difficult than herding cats….even with Calgary’s dubious actual and political history of reining in, rodeo and wild west reputation.

The “arts stampede” was well worth my time and effort.

Getting there was no mean feat, and required the coordination of kids, appointments and rescheduling numerous commitments. As I was ready to leave, I couldn’t find my small purse anywhere. Without it, I was stranded – needed gas – debit card in purse. No purse, no Congress. Panic, panic, panic. Not so much time for reflection here on this one!

After a half hour of frantic searching the house, I found it under the couch. Likely having fallen off the chair and inadvertently kicked under there by exuberant children roughhousing it the evening before. The biproduct was – everything got put away. Ha. Bonus points to the darker side of disorganization.

I really enjoyed the day and learned a lot – about myself, my role in the arts in my larger community, met new friends and colleagues, caught up with old friends and colleagues.

Top Seven Things I Learned at the Calgary Arts Champion Congress

1) Be a positive deviant.

2) Be a change agent, not a guardian of the archaic past.

3) Put the audience at the centre of your practice.

4) Consider all possibilities.

5) Take action towards innovation.

6) Placing the arts fully at the centre of your family and community can create a gentler, resourceful and innovative world.

7) Take every chance to teach others how to overcome fear.

Bonus point: Panic is a waste of energy. Go with the flow and be logical. 😉

And as an added bonus, I was fortunate enough to be featured on the front page of the Entertainment section of the Calgary Herald as the “poster girl” for Arts Champions. Wow, what an honour.

(Extra Bonus Random tip: Don’t forget to love your worst enemy. It’s important.)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Some good tips there, Janice. The extra bonus random tip is a hard one.

    1. It sure is a tough one, Paul. The thing is… the more we actively seek to have those difficult conversations and communicate our differences, we find our “sameness” and a respect to grow from that point. My two cents, anyhow.

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