For those who I have not had the pleasure of meeting and since this is my first blog post, a proper introduction is in order. My name is Dylan Jones and I am a recent graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Cultural Studies Graduate Program and the new administrative assistant at Artspace. During my days in university, I spent most of my time buried in books, writing papers, and trying to keep up with deadlines while attending various social events in an attempt to preserve some sense of normalcy in my busy and stressful life. As a result of this scholarly induced mania, movie theaters became a sanctuary from the strains of academia. After graduation, I filled my free time rediscovering the joys of recreational reading (I had a lot of graphic novels to get caught up on), catching up with friends, running, doing yoga, and basically enjoying my apartment in Osborne Village, which I had moved into recently. When this position opened up, a close friend of mine viewed it as the perfect fit for someone who is seeking an opportunity to find a sense of self in the workforce and this is something I was definitely searching for in my post graduate life.
Over the last month, I have had the opportunity to navigate the hallways of the Gault building situated within the heart of the Exchange District. In the process, I have grown to understand the significance that space holds in cultivating an environment that promotes the arts. These explorations or minor excursions have brought me into direct contact with the Gault building’s 116-year history, which historical plaques map out on various walls. It was news to me when I learned that the Artspace organization encompasses the last 30 years of the establishment’s long history. Likewise, I have been fortunate enough to meet so many creative and generous people who have been residing in the building for short or long periods of time while contributing to the establishment’s creative history and, to a larger extent, the surrounding cultural community. Most importantly, these interactions have become integral in creating the sense of comfort I carry with me as I navigate around an exciting new work environment and continue to have as I produce this blog.
As previously stated, this is a pretty diverse building and it just so happens to be rooted in the Exchange District, an area where every building has a story. However, it cannot be stressed enough how the growth and maintenance of this diversity is tied to the people who use this space to create. Situated under one roof resides artists who are involved in a variety of forms of creative expression that includes, but is not limited to, film, print, music, and theatre. Darkrooms, editing bays, green screens, and even a movie theatre call this place home. Furthermore, these cultural contributions extend to the Exchange District’s growing importance as a cultural hub that, to a larger extent, showcases Winnipeg as a space that conveys a remarkable sense of innovation and artistic expression.
While your eyes are nearing the end of this post, you may be thinking, “exactly how does an administrative assistant fit into all of this?” I don’t necessarily create any art, yet. Maybe that will change someday. Instead, I hope to contribute in some capacity to the building’s overall social and cultural energy that strengthens its wellbeing, a wellbeing that is beholden to its creative inhabitants. On that note, I’ll end by sharing a brief story of my first day. I was sitting at my desk, figuring out order forms and whatnot, when a group of people walked in with a request to access the rooftop for photos. Without hesitation, I led them up to the top of the building. When we were up there, they began taking pictures while I stood off to the side and looked out over the city. Immediately, I was overtaken by the scenic view of the rooftops, each covering a different structure with its own historical narrative. Suddenly, the photographer, intinterrupting my moment, joyfully said, “You have a pretty cool job”. In typing these last reflective sentences to close out this blog, I would have to say that I agree, and I hope that in working here, I may contribute to Artspace’s ongoing history.