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Creative Manitoba is celebrating our 20th anniversary! To highlight our history and excitement about continuing to support Manitoba’s arts community, we spoke with community members who have made a particularly special mark throughout our past twenty years. These are their stories.

Alan Wong

Seeing staff bond in-person was a beautiful thing for Gimli International Film Festival (GIFF) executive director Alan Wong. 

“They’re young, they’re new, they’re learning their roles for the first time, and I’m working very closely with them to train and show them the ropes.”

After working remotely the past few years, Creative Manitoba provided co-working space for this year’s festival. 

“Now they have a group chat, they talk all the time, they hang out. And we did that, we brought those people together,” said Wong.

Nearly ten years ago, Wong learned about Creative Manitoba when he was looking for guidance as an artist and wanted to learn more about arts administration.

“I was a performer, a singer, an actor and I really wanted to take a little bit more control over my career and also branch out into working in the arts. Not only to support myself, but also support others in the community.” 

Wong spent the next five years working in film while taking evening courses for his Manitoba Arts & Cultural Management Certificate. Creative Manitoba partnered with the University of Winnipeg Professional, Applied & Continuing Education (UWPACE), providing a bursary program to support students like Wong. 

At a time when money was tight, he says the financial support was fantastic. Through the course, Wong gained practical skills and a comprehensive view of arts and culture that prepared him for running GIFF. 

“It’s exactly what that program trained me for. Not only are you managing finances and communicating at the executive level, you’re constantly advocating for the arts. Having that context and knowing the history of the arts and why it’s important is pretty essential to anyone in this career.”

As an arts administrator, Wong says he’s also enjoyed going to meetings and reconnecting with Creative Manitoba and other arts organizations over the past year.

“It’s a bit of an interesting discovery that’s taken quite a few years to figure out. But I definitely noticed that when your work and your energy is focused outwardly, and you’re building the community, you end up helping yourself a lot more too.”

Amanda Emms is a freelance writer and activist living in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 territory. Her work includes collaborations with art organizations, non-profits, public health and media outlets. The library is her favourite space.

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