Q&A with new Moose Jaw Cultural Centre manager

The Moose Jaw Cultural Centre announced their new management team this week — Derik Cronan, general manager, Eric La France, production manager, and Mike Nickel, front of house manager.
“I think the challenges we have experienced in the past, myself having been a board member through a lot of those challenges, I think I add a different perspective of what exactly we were going through. A large part of it is we felt the facility was very closed off, not very welcoming to the community,” said Cronan. “We are looking at ways of inviting people into the facility and encouraging people to make use of it as a city facility.”
Board chairperson Colleen Patterson called the new team a fresh start for the centre.
“We have a new emphasis on what this cultural centre can bring to Moose Jaw,” she said. “We hope with this young team that we can bring in some things that are going to appeal to the 30- and 40-year-olds, who haven’t been users of the place.”
The Times-Herald asked new general manager Cronan a few questions.

1) Why do you think people should support the arts in Moose Jaw?
The arts are a vital part of any community and they serve as a gateway that can allow people to see things from many different viewpoints. The arts exist to enrich and sometimes challenge people and, as a result, they help Moose Jaw grow as a community. The Moose Jaw Cultural Centre was founded with the idea of providing an outlet for artists to showcase their work and has been and will continue to be an important part of Moose Jaw.

2) What’s your vision for the Cultural Centre?
As someone who grew up in Moose Jaw, some of my favourite memories of the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre are of the days when it was the Capitol Theatre. Over the years I have been able to see it grow into a facility that now encompasses all aspects of the arts. My vision for is a facility that not only provides a home for artists, but also serves to educate the community through art workshops and classes, paving the way for future generations. I would also like to see a dedicated space to allow the artists in the centre to showcase and potentially sell their work.

3) What’s your background in the arts?
I have a strong passion and appreciation for all forms of art including music, poetry, visual and performing arts. I believe that all art has a
place and all artistic views are important and my job is to provide a wide variety of art and cultural experiences to Moose Jaw.

4) The centre has been going through a rocky period. How do you plan to turn things around?
I believe the changes made over the past year were done in the best interests of the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre and the City of Moose Jaw. With the addition of RuBarb moving into the facility we have seen increased traffic and interest in the building and I am looking forward to strengthening our relationship with them in a way that is both beneficial to the facility and the arts community in Moose Jaw.

5) What would be your dream show/act/exhibition you would like to bring to the Centre?
This is one of my favourite questions yet; at the same time, I struggle with it. There are so many artists and musicians I love, the key is to
find a balance between what I enjoy, what would be financially feasible and appeal to the city of Moose Jaw and surrounding area. In terms of musicians, if budget wasn’t a concern, I would definitely say Frank Ocean, Kanye West or Arcade Fire! Keeping things more realistic, I would love to bring the Barenaked Ladies, Burton Cummings, Jeffrey Straker or Dean Brody to Moose Jaw. I would also love to see Ian Keteku return to the Mae Wilson Theatre. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at a poetry event the Festival of Words hosted and his performance really resonated with me. In terms of visual art I would love to display a collection of work from Karli Jessup, a Regina-born artist whose work feels so relevant in today’s political climate.