From left to right: Heather Klimchuk, Andrew Mosker, Jason Kenny, Anne Murray, and Naheed Nenshi at the NMC Groundbreaker in February. Credit: Leblond Studio Inc.
I’m eating a candy cane (likely my hundredth) as I listen to my coworker Annie play Christmas carols on the grand piano located in the centre of NMC’s office. As I look around this office I can’t help but reflect on what was surely NMC’s most memorable year so far.
It was a year full of incredible triumphs, like breaking ground on our new building, and hardships, like the damage we suffered, both personally and at work, due to the floods.
I started working at NMC in the spring, joining in the afterglow of our February groundbreaking that showed the world that this is really happening—we ARE building a home for music in Canada!
A table card from our event in February when we broke ground on the new National Music Centre contruction project. Credit: Leblond Studio Inc.
It’s ambitious, exciting and at times, stressful work. But our staff is passionate about what they do, and they also believe in a healthy supply of doughnuts when things get too stressful.
So with the eagerness of a plucky kid, we tackled the first part of the year—sending special exhibits to the JUNOs and inviting acclaimed artists like Goyte to play with our unique collection of musical artifacts.
We were focused on the future, dreaming up exhibitions that invited music lovers of all ages to get up close with our collection, to encourage them to touch, sing, dance and play in our new building. We thought about how great it will be when the King Eddy is restored and we can invite people to catch a show and have a beer at the infamous Eddy once again.
And then the flood hit.
NMC staff and volunteers stop to take a photo during the flood in June. Credit: Chad Schroter-Gillespie.
Our future was temporarily put on hold as our staff and a group of truly exceptional volunteers began pumping out our basement and carrying waterlogged instruments and archives out of our basement. Our collections staff created a sort of piano triage at our current building, while the rest of our staff set up a temporary home in an empty office generously donated by ATB Financial.
There were a lot of doughnuts consumed during this time.
But by the end of it, after countless tears and hugs and muddy boots, we all felt closer. We were also in awe of the help and support the community offered us; muscle power, words of encouragement and donations. To be honest, we didn’t realize you cared so much, but words can’t describe how grateful we are that you do.
When we reopened, we once again began daydreaming about the new NMC, but also not losing sight of what we have already accomplished and promised to take care of each other and you, our visitors, during this transition.
The fall brought a return to business as usual, with NMC hitting the road and travelling to Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal. During our travels we shared our vision, but more importantly asked for input. Whether it was NMC Honouary Patron Anne Murray telling us how important rural music education programs were or having an East Coaster tell us that there’s a lot more to their music story than fiddles, we learned a lot.
In Montreal, in-between bites of fresh bagels, I learned how the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts engages over 75,000 members, while also welcoming about half a million visitors annually.
But while some of us were on the road, NMC was still open and delivering school programs and hosting concerts. One of my favourite sights at NMC is seeing little munchins stomping up our staircase to take part in one of our many school programs. Sometimes we can hear their stomps, songs and the bellow of the theatre organ as they all sign “O Canada.”
I also got the chance to meet another NMC Honourary Patron in November, when Tommy Banks took the stage for a candid interview and performance. His generosity and kindness is only surpassed by his talent.
I must have been full of this goodwill and happiness when I agreed to take part in our Give the Gift of Music fundraising campaign as lead elf. Jingle bell hat notwithstanding, it was a lot of fun to surprise kids and grown-ups with a musician in a box. Trust me, there were lots of airholes.
Dressed as an elf giving the gift of music at Valley View Elementary School.
So as we go into 2014, we’re still raising awareness about our project and raising critical funds—$50 million still to go—to help us achieve our vision. We’ll be opening in 2016, and with our team, our passion and a steady stream of doughnuts I know we’ll get there.