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The Isabel celebrated for design excellence

  • The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts gleams in the morning light. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
    The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts gleams in the morning light. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
  • The Isabel overlooks Lake Ontario. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
    The Isabel overlooks Lake Ontario. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
  • The Isabel's bright interior welcomes guests to a performance. (Photo: Corey Forster, ArtSci’17 and MSc’19)
    The Isabel's bright interior welcomes guests to a performance. (Photo: Corey Forster, ArtSci’17 and MSc’19)
  • The 566-seat performance hall offers world-renowned acoustics. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
    The 566-seat performance hall offers world-renowned acoustics. (Photo: Doublespace photography)
  • Large windows and open space give the Isabel an impressive feeling of grandeur. (Photo: Physical Plant Services)
    Large windows and open space give the Isabel an impressive feeling of grandeur. (Photo: Physical Plant Services)

The 2017 Livable City Design Awards celebrated buildings across Kingston, including the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, which won an Award of Excellence for its building project design.

“Queen’s is honoured to receive this award from the City of Kingston. Given the strong field of great projects that were nominated, the recognition is particularly exciting,” said John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities). “In addition to being one of the premier buildings on campus for our staff and students, The Isabel has become a wonderful local venue for world-class performing arts. Our facilities team is very proud of the role we played in helping to create it.”

The Isabel was judged by a jury of professionals, based on criteria including significance to the city and community, innovation, context, execution, sustainable design, and accessibility.

To learn more about The Isabel, and about their upcoming programming, visit The Isabel’s website.

New lecture series to celebrate John Meisel

The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies to hold its inaugural event on Thursday, Nov. 23.

  • The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies was announced during his 94th birthday party at the University Club. Helping unveil the poster were, from left: Keith Banting (Political Studies, Smith School of Business); Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science; Zsuzsa Csergő, Head, Department of Political Studies; and Tom Hewitt Chief Development Officer, Advancement.
    The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies was announced during his 94th birthday party at the University Club. Helping unveil the poster were, from left: Keith Banting (Political Studies, Smith School of Business); Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science; Zsuzsa Csergő, Head, Department of Political Studies; and Tom Hewitt Chief Development Officer, Advancement.
  • Professor Emeritus John Meisel reacts to the announcement of The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies. The inaugural visiting scholar, Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon, will host a lecture Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
    Professor Emeritus John Meisel reacts to the announcement of The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies. The inaugural visiting scholar, Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon, will host a lecture Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
  • The Queen's community celebrated the 94th birthday of Professor Emeritus John Meisel with a special event Oct. 20 at the University Club.
    The Queen's community celebrated the 94th birthday of Professor Emeritus John Meisel with a special event Oct. 20 at the University Club.

A lot has changed across this country since John Meisel first took up residence here at Queen’s in 1949 as a lecturer in Political Studies. But one thing that remains a constant is the existence of political controversy and the need for scholars, policy makers, and the public to explore and address it.

This is where a new annual lecture series at Queen’s will come in. The John Meisel Scholar Series in Contemporary Political Controversies is set for Thursday, Nov. 23 from 4 to 5:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. The inaugural visiting scholar will be Debra Thompson from the University of Oregon and the title of her lecture is “Trump, Race, and Time”.

“This scholar series is an ideal way for the university to celebrate John’s incredible career and the contributions he has made to Queen’s and Canada in his roles as a professor, public servant, and public intellectual,” says Zsuzsa Csergő, Political Studies Department Head. “He was an important voice in many of this country’s most important debates over many decades, including discussions over the future of Canadian culture and arts, and battles over the constitution, to name a few.”

Professor Meisel was also a pioneer in research into political behavior and he wrote widely on Canadian elections, political parties, Quebec politics, science policy, and cultural policy. He was the founding editor of two prestigious academic journals, the Canadian Journal of Political Science and the International Political Science Review. From 1980 to 1983 he was Chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and later served as president of the Royal Society of Canada.

Recently he celebrated his 94th birthday at the Queen’s University Club where members of the Political Studies department unveiled the scholar series founded in his honour. The event will also highlight the important contributions of Queen’s Political Studies to scholarship and public engagement both nationally and internationally.

The lecture is open to the public and is being sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Science with support from alumni.

For more information visit the Queen’s Political Studies website

Art galleries on campus to be transformed

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Union Gallery will be transformed on Wednesday, Oct. 25 for a day-long series of installations, workshops and participatory performances to challenge acts of anti-blackness on Canadian university campuses and provide a space for healing and community.

(Poster for Arts Against PostRacialism)
Arts Against PostRacialism is a full-day art exhibition project at The Agnes and the Union Gallery that will dive deep into the sentiments of postracialism on university campuses.(Quentin VerCetty, Water No Get Enemy 3017, 2017, computer generated image.)

The SSHRC-funded Arts Against PostRacialism project tackles the challenges faced by black communities due to acts of anti-blackness, and offers a diverse group of artists the chance to contribute to a larger conversation about postracialist sentiment in Canada.

The project’s eight events, spanning from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., feature projects including; video and sculpture installations, the Afronautics research lab, workshops, interactive activities, keynote speech, talkback session, and panel discussion.

"We are excited that the Arts Against PostRacialism partners chose Queen’s as one of the stops on its cross-university tour,” says Stephanie Simpson, Director of the Human Rights Office at Queen’s. “The timing for this is perfect, given the recently released report and recommendations from our own Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI).  The exhibitions and lecture will provide an excellent opportunity for us to continue discussion around the creation of racially just and inclusive institutional climates.”

Philip Howard, the keynote speaker of the event and assistant professor at McGill University, researches critical race pedagogies in Canadian culture. He sees the project as the perfect format to respond to expressions of anti-blackness, such as blackface.

“The installations and events involved in this project are meant to evoke a response and to assert blackness in new ways in university campuses, where they’re often excluded,” says Dr. Howard. “It’s a call upon people to make the connections that are often hidden between this practice of blackface and other structural practice of anti-blackness that surround us.”

Artists featured include Camille Turner, Nadine Valcin, Esmaa Mahomoud, Quentin VerCetty, and Anique Jordan. Many of these artists have created immersive experiences that will transform The Agnes and the Union Gallery into conversation pieces in their own right.

“As I was working on this research, it occurred to me that blackface is quite performative, and visually evocative, and a resistance response to it would be to be similarly evocative and visual,” explains Dr. Howard. “Our focus in this project has been strengthening the communities affected by blackface, and similar expressions of anti-blackness that still occur on university campuses.”

Make sure to check out the project’s eight events and installations at The Agnes and the Union Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Agnes thriving at 60

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is in a celebratory mood as it marks its 60th anniversary with a suite of special events starting Thursday, Oct. 12.

André Biéler and art students at the entrance of the new Agnes Etherington Art Centre, summer 1958
Art professor André Biéler and his students stand at the entrance of the new Agnes Etherington Art Centre in the summer of 1958. (Queen's University Archives) 

From bringing six decades of history to life to highlighting the gallery’s role in the community, while at the same time having a good bit of fun, the celebrations kick off with the “Shaken, Not Stirred: 60th Anniversary Gala,” a semi-formal reception that harkens back to 1957 when the Agnes opened. Organized by the Queen’s Art History Departmental Student Council, the “elegant jazz-inflected” event will bring together the Queen’s and Kingston communities for a celebration of the visual arts.

There will be a number of VIPs attending as well as a special guest or two at the event, according to Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes.

“It’s been fun for us to plan for this celebration, in part because we are proud of the Agnes’ history but also because the gallery is really thriving. It’s a great moment to look back at our history,” she says. “We’ve made a slate of events that we hope will appeal to all the different facets of our audiences, the various communities that we serve.”

The gala is followed by “Make Art Like It’s 1957” – featuring hands-on art-making activities in the André Biéler Studio – on Friday, Oct. 13, as well as guided tours throughout Homecoming Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15.

Also on Saturday, Oct. 14 is “A Tale of Two Houses,” a pair of talks featuring historians Joan Delaney and Bob Butcher and Alicia Boutilier, Chief Curator of the Agnes, that will take a closer look at the history of two residences that once belonged to founder Agnes Etherington and her family: Fettercairn in Chaffey’s Lock and Etherington House here on campus.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, the Agnes and the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre will co-host “100 Years of Art,” a retrospective series of 10 very short talks about the histories of the two art centres, which happen to share a birthday on Oct. 12. While the Agnes is marking 60 years, Modern Fuel is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Wrapping up the celebrations is Distinguished Lecturer Eric Jan Sluijter, who will speak on “Rembrandt, Value and the Market for Paintings in the Dutch Golden Age,” on Thursday, Oct. 19 in the Ellis Hall  Auditorium. The event will shine a light on The Bader Collection as it also marks its 50th anniversary this year.

Apart from the events, the Agnes is also launching an online chronology of the art centre over its six decades. Put together by a team led by curator Boutilier, with much assistance by Queen’s Archives staff, the project has created an online illustrated history of the gallery.

“That’s a big breakthrough for us because, until now, we’ve only had a couple of paragraphs online to capture our rich history,” Ms. Allen says. “We are now able to enlarge that account with fascinating images that reflect the change that has occurred across six decades. The gallery has grown exponentially. We hope that Agnes Etherington would be happy with the gallery today, to see that her vision has taken root and flourished in the way it has.”

For further information about the celebrations, visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre website.

Queen’s Remembers initiative launches

The Indigenous Plinth will be unveiled on McGibbon Walk on October 16. (University Communications)
The first Queen's Remembers plinth, dedicated to the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee peoples upon whose traditional lands Queen’s was built, will be unveiled on McGibbon Walk on October 16. (University Communications)

Following the university's 175th Anniversary, Queen’s is reflecting upon its history in a project to commemorate those who have made a significant and noteworthy contribution to the university. A series of informative plinths will be unveiled across campus over the coming months, as part of the new “Queen’s Remembers” initiative.

“On the conclusion of a successful year of celebrating our legacy, we have a chance to reflect on those whose contributions have helped to shape that history and, in so doing, to raise awareness in our community of these groups and individuals,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

The planning for the Queen’s Remembers initiative was led by Principal Woolf in collaboration with the facilities and campus planning teams, University Relations, and those with specific ties to the topics being commemorated.

The first of the plinths will honour the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee peoples, upon whose traditional lands Queen’s was built. The plinth will feature a six-page weatherproof book, in both English and French, which highlights the history and the culture of the indigenous community of Queen’s, includes some information about Indigenous initiatives at Queen’s University, and celebrates some of Queen’s most prominent Indigenous graduates. It also includes a recognition, written in English, French, Mohawk, and Ojibway, that Queen’s sits on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee.

This first plinth will be unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 16 beginning at 2 pm. All are welcome to attend. More information can be found on the university events calendar.

Information about future plinths will be shared as they are installed.

Indigenous art to appear in Law atrium

The Faculty of Law.

The call has gone out seeking a piece of Indigenous artwork to reside in the Faculty of Law which will be used to welcome students, instructors, guests, and community members visiting the Faculty of Law.

“Queen’s University is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory,” says Dean Bill Flanagan. “By honouring this traditional territory, we acknowledge the territory’s significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived, and continue to live, upon it. Having a work of art that reflects Indigenous culture and values in the entrance to our school will be one of many ways we honour this traditional territory and embrace Indigenous engagement in all that we do the Faculty of Law.”

Indigenous artists are being invited to apply to design, fabricate, and install a permanent artwork for the Gowling WLG Atrium of the Faculty of Law. The aim of this project is to create a welcoming space for Indigenous peoples in the Faculty of Law, and to help promote awareness around historical and contemporary issues relevant to Indigenous peoples and law.

The school’s atrium is a high-traffic hub visible from all floors of the building as well as the street. “The location is very exciting for us,” says Chantal Rousseau, Manager of International Programs and the project’s coordinator. “All students go through here, all faculty go through here, as well as visitors. It is a crossroads for the law school and will have a lot of meaning and resonance.”

The project is part of a greater initiative to increase the visibility of Indigenous art and culture and the recognition of Indigenous territory in spaces across the Queen’s University campus. The installation of this piece of art will represent part of the Faculty’s response to Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the final report of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force – specifically the recommendation to ‘increase the presence of Indigenous cultures on campus’. A 12-person committee, representing all the Faculty’s major stakeholders and including seven Indigenous members, is overseeing the project.

“I am very pleased with the Indigenous art project initiative coming out of the Dean's office,” says committee member Jason Mercredi (Law’18), a Student Senator for the law school, and a member of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force. “This is a small but meaningful gesture of good faith towards reconciliation. This project also confirms Indigenous belonging within the law school community, which is particularly important in the study of colonial law.”

Interested artists can view the public art call. The artwork selected will be installed for unveiling in Fall 2018.

Queen’s National Scholar wins prestigious Trudeau Fellowship

Norman Vorano giving a lecture.
Dr. Vorano discusses the North Baffin Drawings with guests at Queen's Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

Queen’s National Scholar Norman Vorano has been named as one of only five recipients of a prestigious Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellowship – one of the most competitive awards available to humanities and social science scholars in Canada.

Dr. Vorano, assistant professor in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation and curator of Indigenous art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, was recognized for his work with Indigenous communities in the Canadian Arctic to record, understand, and share Inuit art history. Through innovative public outreach, his career-long efforts have sought to transcend cultural and generational boundaries so Indigenous voices are central in shaping how their history is shared.

Dr. Norman Vorano
Dr. Norman Vorano

“I am truly honoured to receive this fellowship from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation,” says Dr. Vorano. “I am also humbled by the task ahead, to continue to build a collaborative research network of individuals and communities across the North who share in the belief that our public museums, schools, and universities can do more to promote cross-cultural understanding, empathy, reconciliation, and community health.”

This unique recognition speaks to the nationally important collections curated by Dr. Vorano and heightens awareness of Indigenous art in Canada.

“I want to congratulate Dr. Vorano on being named a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellow,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “This major award speaks to the quality and significance of his contributions to arts and culture in our country. His collaborative work with Northern communities to preserve and share these collections stands as a shining example of how history can and should be written to reflect the experiences of all Canadians.”

In 2017, Dr. Vorano debuted a travelling exhibition of Inuit sketches originally collected by Terry Ryan, an arts advisor in Cape Dorset who journeyed to three North Baffin communities in 1964 and invited people to use pencil and paper to record their traditional knowledge before encroaching Southern influences transformed their way of life.

The exhibition featured a selection of sketches created around Clyde River, Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet alongside video and audio commentary that Dr. Vorano collected from some of those very same artists, their descendants and communities more than 50 years after the drawings were made.

Dr. Vorano in Clyde River, Nunavut. (Aug. 2015)

“Showcasing this collection, particularly in Northern venues, has been a vital first step in reconnecting communities in Nunavut with this vast and profoundly important record of their heritage,” says Dr. Vorano, who will use the $225,000 Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Fellowship to fund the second phase of the project. “The next step is to work with the communities to build a culturally-appropriate reciprocal network that links this collection, and possibly other Arctic collections from museums around the world, to their communities of origin.

The creation of this ‘Arctic Cultural Heritage Research Network’ (ACHRN) is premised on the understanding that access to cultural heritage promotes health and well-being. The ultimate goal of this digital platform is to provide all Inuit, including educators and heritage workers in Nunavut, access to heritage collections stored in southern museums – collections from which they are largely alienated.

Every year, the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation awards up to five fellowships to individuals recognized for their productivity, their commitment to communicating their findings to the public and their ability to devise innovative solutions to some of the major issues facing Canada and the world.

A musical tribute to Canada

[Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, painted by Maxwell Newhouse]
Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, painted by Maxwell Newhouse.

Over the years, John Burge, composer and professor of composition and theory at the Dan School of Drama and Music, has created several pieces that bring various aspects of the Canadian experience to life.

His latest work pays tribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation and is a joint commission by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and The Kingston Symphony Orchestra. It is called Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, and it’s based upon four paintings of the same name created by Maxwell Newhouse in 1975 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Canadian flag.

The original artwork focuses attention on the iconic maple leaf in the centre of the Canadian flag as it progresses through the four seasons: beginning in full summer splendor with the normal rending of the flag; the leaf falling in the autumn canvas; absent in winter; and returning anew in spring as a small sprig.

Not a complex painting perhaps, but the impact is clear.

IN HIS OWN WORDS
For more on the creative process and inspiration behind John Burge’s composition Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, read his first-hand reflection published in The Conversation.

“It’s such a simple concept,” Dr. Burge says, “but one that resonates deeply with many people who view it for the first time.”

Dr. Burge was tasked with writing two versions of the piece – one for a large Romantic orchestra and another for a smaller orchestra. Written together, Dr. Burge has spent much time over the past two and a half years creating the piece to reflect the artwork and meet the requirements of the commissioners.

Mr. Newhouse has shown complete support for Burge’s musical interpretation of his artwork and even painted two new smaller versions of Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag for Dr. Burge, including one that currently adorns the wall of his office in Harrison-LeCaine Hall. Throughout the music-writing process, actually having the artwork at hand provided many points of inspiration as well as a reminder of the task ahead.

“I don’t think Max intended this, but the subconscious effect of having his artwork in my home and university office meant that every time I looked at the painting, I was reminded that I had to get composing the music even if I really didn’t have time on that particular day to work it,” he says. 

The smaller orchestra piece premiered on May 13 in Saskatoon, while the Kingston performance is set for October 22 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. The NYOC will perform the larger scoring of the piece three times during its summer tour: July 20 in Stratford; July 23 in Montreal (which will be recorded by CBC for broadcast on a later date); and August 13 in Nanaimo. 

After taking in the premiere performance in Saskatchewan, Dr. Burge feels confident that the message that he found in the painting comes through in the music as well.

“Canada is a big country with lots of nationalities, ethnicities, and Indigenous peoples, and yet in composing this work I was struck with the thought that there are perhaps two things underlying the music that most Canadians can agree upon," he says. "First, there is a strong sense of pride in the maple leaf as a beautiful emblem for our country. Secondly, we seem preoccupied with the weather and, by extension, the changing seasons. Dealing with the environment and making the most of what can be both a harsh and nurturing climate seems a particularly Canadian trait. To have a piece of music that combines the flag with the seasons is, I think, a perfect pairing.”

Dr. John Burge

And while it was a labor of love there were challenges along the way.

Foremost, Dr. Burge explains, is that the piece could not be longer than 20 minutes in order to fit the NYOC’s programming demands. With four movements in the range of five minutes each, he struggled to meet the target and with the deadline just months away he still had too much music. 

Then he had a breakthrough.

“It was around Christmas time, and I still had all the sketches spread out on my piano. I had been playing through the piece for six months, basically finished, and I still had a minute and a half to two minutes extra,” he says. “I just knew that I had to go back and make cuts – an often painstaking process for any artist. The 'eureka' moment occurred when I realized that since summer is the most precious and shortest time that we experience, I had to make it the shortest movement as well. Instead of making little cuts to all four movements I took a big pair of scissors to summer which now clocks in at three minutes and 30 seconds, or even shorter if the conductor and players are really inspired to play quickly. As a result, I could keep the slightly longer movements that remained intact and the entire piece takes just under 20 minutes. If I’m proud of anything it’s that I was able to make the piece stay within the 20-minute goal.”

For more information about the musical creation of Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, visit John Burge’s website. 

The July 23 Montreal performance at Maison Symphonique will be streamed live and later archived on CBC.

Chipped Off returns to the stage

Local theatre group brings unique production to the Isabel.

For the fourth year in a row, Chipped Off Performance Collective is welcoming the community to another unique production at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Opening this week, the local theatre group, headed by Kim Renders, a professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music, presents Rhinoceros or What’s Different About Me? The play revolves around the 1959 avant-garde play penned by Eugene Ionesco, in which each of a town’s residents is replaced, one by one, by a rhinoceros.

Joining the production of Rhinoceros are (l to r): Amie Bello, Kim Renders and Hannah Smith.

The collective first took shape five years ago, when Queen’s student Dan Vena approached Renders about directing a play he wrote.

“He said he was tired of not seeing himself or his community represented on Kingston’s stages,” Renders explains about staging How to Bake a Pie in Ten Steps or less: A Transgender Fairytale in 2013.

This year, Renders decided to mount an adaptation of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, shortly after the election in the United States.

“The play provides the skeleton for the production but it’s the community pieces that actually fill it out,” she says . “It’s going to be a very eclectic show with many different components including multi-media, monologues and poems among other performance pieces.”

While the production brings together community members from 14 to 80-years-old, Renders says this isn’t just a local talent show.

“There are about 50 community members involved in the show, including a significant numbers of professionals providing the artistic support,” she says. “The show is also all about creating a voice for individuals from all corners of the community and bringing them together through artistic expression, to be a part of something bigger.”

The show runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 14-16, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, June 18, at 2 p.m. Admission is $15.

Chipped Off Performance Collective believes in the power of art and performance to surprise, enlighten, provoke, astonish, challenge and change. We are committed to presenting work that speaks to the needs and concerns of underrepresented or marginalized communities in Kingston. Embracing a feminist and queer perspective at all times, Chipped Off Performance Collective works to grow and diversify the range of local artistic, cultural, and theatrical production available to Kingston audiences.

Film student lands Cannes internship

Queen's in the World

Among the gossip and celebrities and champagne on the French Riviera, Diana Zhao might catch herself to smile into the flash of a paparazzo’s camera when she’s not busy at work this month.

“It’s a great networking opportunity, especially compared to other festivals because it’s more exclusive – Cannes is by invitation only,” says Ms. Zhao (Artsci’17), a political science and film and media student who is participating in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern for the two weeks of its run in May.

The annual festival is held in the city of Cannes, in the south of France, and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It’s an important showcase for international, but especially European, films, and draws hundreds of celebrities associated with cinema, including famous actors and directors.

Diana Zhao (Artsci'17), a political science and film and media student, is working at the Cannes Film Festival as a marketing intern. (Supplied photo)

Asked whether she’s excited to meet such Academy Award-winning luminaries as Sofia Coppola and Leonardo DiCaprio, who are expected at the event this year, Ms. Zhao humbly concedes, “It’s a great opportunity to meet people in the industry.”

Ms. Zhao has been interested in film since high school, when she attended an arts intensive school, but she also thought about going into journalism. Fortunately, her time at Queen’s allowed her the opportunity to explore different avenues of education and career development.

“Queen’s lets you try out different courses in first year, so I felt like I had an extra year to decide what to do,” she says. Ms. Zhao says she was more inclined to journalism and writing than acting, but was unsure whether the film industry offered such opportunities for people like her. “Before being exposed to the industry, I thought if you want to be in film you have to be either an actor or director. I didn’t know there were actually so many career options.”

In particular, FILM450, a special topics course designed this year by instructor Alex Jansen around “The Business of Media,” was a formative experience for Ms. Zhao and opened her eyes to the many ways she could get involved in the film industry, as well as to how she could apply her skills.

Among the course’s many lessons, Ms. Zhao says “it taught me how to network, how to break into the industry, how to contact someone from the industry, and how to write a profile.” One beneficial assignment required tapping into the Queen’s alumni network and contacting two recent graduates of the film program, both of whom had a similar educational background to hers and are now successfully working in advertising and PR companies.

Leaping into festival work

The jump from FILM450 to the Cannes Film Festival is shorter than might be expected. Ms. Zhao’s résumé already includes an internship as a marketing assistant with the Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2016, in which position she designed promotional material, managed social media platforms, and handled communications with sponsors and film producers.

While still enrolled in the course, she heard about opportunities to get involved with major film festivals from a few other former Queen’s film students, and filed an early application to the Creative Mind Group, a U.S.-based foundation that is dedicated to developing the next generation of film and television professionals and building their networks. They connect students and young professionals like Ms. Zhao to entertainment festivals and markets all over the world. At Cannes, she has been assigned a variety of administrative duties, which will include greeting clients as they arrive and running such errands as delivering premier tickets to clients before shows begin.

Ms. Zhao, who spent a semester studying at Tsinghua University in China during her degree, is also gearing up for her involvement with an entrepreneurial start-up this summer through the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) program and is also preparing for her master’s of management degree at UBC, which she will begin in September.

“I’m interested in working in PR, marketing, and working with distribution companies. After talking to industry professionals for FILM450, it’s definitely an industry I’m interested in. Once I get my MA in management, I’ll be ready to enter.”

 

 

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