Getting creative with Winnipeg venues

New events in familiar, but unconventional, spaces

Jordan Leigh-Miller curates a space at Nott Autocorp on Waverly Street, pairing artwork with luxury cars.

Supplied Photo

When it comes to events, Winnipeg is home to many beautiful spaces, and some locals are finding innovative ways to showcase them.

As an event planner, it’s Allison Girardin’s job to scout locations her clients will love.

“I think people are just accustomed to going for the same old thing,” she says. “I always encourage my clients to be open to ideas.”

Girardin finds that having too many specific expectations on the venue can really close people off to some great options. 

In Winnipeg, where there aren’t as many event spaces as in larger cities, she says event planners have to be innovative.

“If my client wants to get married this year at the Fort Garry ... it’s not happening. They get booked up like two years in advance,” she says. “I have to think about like ‘Hmm, I wonder if the Pantages Playhouse is open.’”

Meanwhile, Cory Wojcik is taking his original play Joe Job out of traditional theatre venues and into a more immersive space.

The show will make its debut at Fools + Horses for the 2017 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

Wojcik is currently writing the play based on his own ideas and improv with the cast. It follows a teacher who quits his job to work in a coffee shop and ends up working with one of his ex-students.

“The original idea was to have this character delivering pizzas,” he says. 

Kendra Magnus-Johnston, part-owner of the café, told Wojcik she was interested in turning Fools + Horses into a Fringe venue. Wojcik adjusted his concept to suit the coffee shop.

“From the audience perspective, it’s like walking onto a film set,” he says. “It’s really cool ’cause we’re going to use the stuff in there too ... Hopefully we can serve a coffee in the middle of the show to some lucky person.”

With the true-to-life setting, it is Wojcik’s goal to create an intimate atmosphere.

“I hope the audiences will feel this sort of people-watching experience. Like, you know, when you’re at coffee shops and you sort of people watch, as intrusive as that sounds,” he says.

And art is making it’s way into unconventional spaces all over Winnipeg.

Nott Autocorp on Waverly Street has become the first combined luxury car dealership and art gallery in Canada.

Jordan Leigh-Miller was approached in mid-October by the company and became the curator for their art gallery. 

As for what will sell to a luxury car customer, Leigh-Miller is still figuring that out.

“Some of the work that I had picked by my favourite artists, it was overly conceptual, so it was hard for people who are not normally art gallery-goers to view the art without kind of wondering ‘Oh, what am I going to be buying here?’” she says.

This time around, Leigh-Miller chose landscapes and cityscapes at a lower price point than she had originally chosen.

Though the space may seem unconventional, Leigh-Miller says, with art, all it takes is the right person to see it, regardless of venue.

Published in Volume 71, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 16, 2017)

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