Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Vicki Stroich graduated in 1999 with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. She is the Executive Director of Alberta Theatre Projects (Calgary) where she is responsible for setting the organizational vision and ensuring the organization is equipped with the resources to support its artistic and community mission. She is also a member of the Faculty of Arts Alumni Advisory Council.
My favourite memories are connected to the productions I was in as a BFA Drama student. I had some great experiences and got to live so many different lives through those characters I played; from an Irish widow, to Velma from Scooby Doo, to a wild visual artist living in New Mexico to Elizabeth I. Working with great director and fellow students to tell stories always built such a great camaraderie and made me value team work and collaboration.
The Drama Undergraduate Society lounge in the basement of Craigie Hall was my favourite hang-out. I was President of the DUS during my final years at UCalgary and that room was a big part of my world.
If you could give one piece of advice to an undergraduate completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?
Enjoy your time at the university but try to see some of the great work happening by alumni at the theatres and arts venues around Calgary. It helps to put the hard work you are doing to develop your craft in context. I didn’t do that as much as I wish I would have.
I thought I was going to be an actor but discovered dramaturgy while I was at University. Dramaturgy is pretty obscure but it is a role that supports the interpretation and development of dramatic text. I loved the combination of academics and creativity it offered and I was fortunate enough to create a career as a dramaturg, working with Canadian playwrights as they develop new work for ATP, the Banff Playwrights Colony and other companies across the country. The passion lead me to become the President of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, an international professional organization for a few years. I evolved again when I took up the organizational leadership of ATP and used the skills I had honed as a dramaturg to devise new ideas for how an arts organization can serve its community better as our world changes.
I get to share my passion for theatre and the role of arts and culture in community building with a range of audiences. I get to be an ambassador for what I believe in.
My degree helped me to learn how to tell stories and how to evoke feelings in others. Both skills are so vital in our increasingly fast paced and abbreviated world. It also taught me to understand new points of view and articulate my own, which has helped me to be a better team member and leader.
I remember a raucous holiday party I planned with the Music and Visual Art Undergrad Societies as a co-fundraiser. We convinced one of our profs to dress up as Santa and throw candy canes. There was a live band. A drama undergrad met a music undergrad at that party and they are now married with kids. I was pretty proud of how that all worked out.