Art Advocates, Past and Present

Break a Leg
May’s Unsung Heroes comes in the form of a building, filled to the brim with committees, guilds, creators and a leading dynamic force. The building in question is the Fernie Arts Station and the contents speak (loudly and dramatically) for themselves. It’s a place of arts, crafts, drama, music, performance, galleries and workshops. This month, I popped in to speak with Brian Dorscht, the newest addition to the Arts Station, who has recently taken over from the enigmatic Oz Parsons, as Executive Director. Although Brian, two days into the role, perhaps can’t quite yet be termed a Fernie Unsung Hero, we believe he may soon be. After all he has some mighty big and artsy shoes to fill.

How’s the new role?

Brian laughs and puts his hand to his face, wondering how best to phrase his answer. Here’s a man who’s come from working in theatre in the busy city of Calgary, yet is seemingly overwhelmed at the comparatively small community of Fernie. “It’s way busier and more diverse than I imagined. Fernie has a very active arts community and I’m astounded by the volume of talent.” This surely is a good sign of what’s to come. The arts community in Fernie is a strong force and Brian is quick to realize it. It’s fairly apparent that the home of the artistic Unsung Heroes can expect more performing arts, whilst Brian already gushes with excitement at the extensive “enthusiasm and happiness” he’s encountered in Fernie and can’t wait to get going towards trying to fill those big shoes.

What’s your background?
Lengthy and varied, with a predominantly performing arts and arts administration background, Brian has a number of new qualities that we’re excited to see unfold. In short, he’s here to “boost performing arts”. Brian has set up and run youth theatre in Calgary ranging from 30 - 1,500 students! With three major productions a year as well as the Story Theatre Troop taking on a libraries tour, he’s certainly got a wealth of experience that he can’t wait to share. Furthermore, he has experience in securing grants from the Community Basin Trust – a part of the role which Oz would quickly explain the importance of in a small town like this. He’s also worked as an Arts Coordinator in Calgary and taught theatre at the University.

Any tricks up your sleeve?
It seems he has a few visions that will help him gain some unforgettable recognition and artistic fan base. “I see a choir on the steps of the Arts Station performing the train whistle on Summer Solstice.” Well that should do it. If you never saw the Honda Civic Commercials featuring the choir, check it out on You Tube to get you in the mood. Alternatively, if that doesn’t do the trick, how do you fancy a Fernie Yodeling Festival? Brian has devotedly taken the time to complete his online yodeling course at yodelcourse.org and, if you’ve a spare few moments on your hands, I suggest you do to. It’s appears quite invigorating. And of course, if you haven’t seen Maria and the Von Trapp children yodeling their way through the fields of Austria, I suggest you watch The Sound of Music too. Different and exciting Brian certainly is.

Big shoes filled? We believe they will be. It’s for sure that Oz Parsons set the arts community standard at high. As Brian says, Oz is all about “the history of the Arts Station…he’s put it in great financial shape…has great respect from people and has shown great developments.” I couldn’t agree more. And it seems he’s not done quite yet, as a friend and ex-colleague of Oz’s, I know his passion lies in opera and I’ve been assured he’ll still be singing the arias of Fernie, as well as following his passion for new research and writing projects.

So we welcome Brian. We thank the committees, guilds and array of volunteers who make things happen at the Arts Station, who in Brian’s surprising words are “enthusiastic” to say the least – you are all Unsung Heroes. And of course, we say thanks and good luck to Oz, who’ll be sadly missed in Fernie’s Unsung Heroes artistic abode. But watch this space for more Oz’isms coming your way, you’ll hear him before you see him…