Saturday, 22 December 2012

Culture Shift

The embroidered paths of Ukrainian ancestors,
and little chicks ready for liftoff.
The korovai bread for a Ukrainian wedding.  
Calgary's vibrant and active Ukrainian cultural community is awesome. Unless you are out there, you may not have noticed the full calendar of events coming out each season!  Ukrainian Calgary promotes everything that makes our community awesome, from old to new and everything in between. We’re like the human interest piece on the news… only different.

Ukrainian Calgary is dedicated to everything that makes it that way. But except for a handful of people whose service is remunerated, all the community building work in Calgary is volunteer! Only a handful of people are "professional Ukrainians", bravely building careers out of sheer passion for the task! Volunteers are the amazing lifeblood of our community. 

But lack of funding is why a lot of creative aspirations end for many artists. They come up with an amazing idea and are forced to let it die due to the expense needed to make it happen. Luckily for Calgary artists, Ukrainian Calgary is going to poke a few of our generous fundraising groups - an initiative that could breathe life into these new amazing ideas through funding. 

Investing in our grass roots artists could start a whole new cycle of activity here. To give you an example, over the years Tryzub has fostered a relationship with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. The shows have been spectacular! That is a top-down activity. Big, splashy. But are there composers, musicians, producers, choirs, writers or theatre groups that could get a nod of support and recognition for doing something good for the Ukrainian community? 

Here are a few ideas. Commission a local writer of Ukrainian origin.  A local film maker? Commission a performance group to put on a show about something Ukrainian. Sponsor the purchase of new music for a choir in Calgary, or pay for the guest artists so they will perform some expensive Ukrainian repertoire. Reward local young musicians, Ukrainian bands, with visible and active support through their social media sites - invite them to perform for important community gatherings to mark the Holodomor, Shevchenko, Carol Festivals. 

The key here is communication and marketing. Relationships! Aspiring artists need to feel supported. Capturing them early in their career paths creates synergies that always pay back. Investing in them, is investing in us! Funding the business of culture provides more return than money. 

I am promoting a cultural shift that moves our community agenda forward. With such a fast growing population, Calgary's historical cultural stereotypes are falling fast. And though Ukrainians are the roots of Canada's multiculturalism, Canada's cultural identity is still forming, evolving, coalescing and defining itself every day. There is a diversity of talent with lots of confidence, an unconventional mix of traditions and new ways. 

Everything is connected in some way, and Calgary is transforming itself into a more cosmopolitan city. The village ways are full of beautiful scenery, and resources, however there are compelling reasons for Calgary's changes. The city is attracting and keeping big talents. The creative class is developing faster here than in any other city in Canada. It is time to ask Calgary's young people how their Ukrainian roots could give them wings! Check with the very innovative young ones, and ask how their Ukrainian community could help them reach a particular goal. Where is the Ukrainian family power? 

Is the Ukrainian Community part of their roots, or the wind beneath their wings? Looking back or looking forward?

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