Blog / Archives / January 2015

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Kristina Mercs

Behind-the-Scenes with YAC Staff: Kristina Mercs

Over the last five years, the Old Fire Hall has developed into a hub for arts and culture in downtown Whitehorse, providing an intimate venue for a variety of presentations and performances. This unique waterfront site not only offers theatre, music and art offerings through the Yukon Arts Centre, but is also the focal point for a multitude of local festivals and community programming. 

Since YAC’s acquisition of the OFH, Kristina Mercs has captained its day to day operations as venue coordinator, facilitating a vibrant array of events that have enriched both the Yukon Arts Centre and Whitehorse community at large. Through her direction, the OFH has become ‘a place to be’ in downtown Whitehorse.

We talked with Mercs about her eventful occupation in and beyond the Old Fire Hall.

I manage the day-to-day operations at the OFH.

The venue coordinator orients renters to the OFH, our gear, assets and capacities to handle a diverse array of events. I assist them in realizing their goals, in a safe, flexible, beautiful space with technical gear suitable to handle most rentals.

From initial contact where we share the OFH handbook, communication is key.
Following communication, a keen sense of technical ability is important as I need to be able to assist renters in sound, lights, projection and troubleshooting all of the above.
Once we are at event day, I review with the client their setup, tweak any of that, then organize the setup based on order of operations that is most efficient and effective, delegating and instructing them and their volunteers on what and how to do it. Then we have a show or event. Once patrons are departing I work with the renters to take it all apart and put it away in a timely fashion before cleaning up, filing a show report, then I leave.

Seeing the OFH become a de-facto downtown community centre serving many different user groups and welcoming a broad spectrum of patrons is quite fulfilling. And seeing great shows is a bonus!

I helped run a record label, Caribou Records, for 12 years prior to working for the YAC. So, working with artists, on event planning and management (whether albums, tours, or shows) was a huge part of that world. I have that kind of detail-oriented brain and I love to rearrange furniture!

Big skies. Clean water. Large, intact tracks of wild space where the vibration of nature still exists. I love being outnumbered by caribou! People who are real.

Frankenstein! I had no idea it was a musical until the opening scene!!
Margie Gillis! A fantastic, emotionally literate dancer. Made me cry.
Ride the Cyclone! So fun! Dark, but FUN!
Victoria! Great set, great story, great performance, great use of light and shadow.

Legoland! More brilliance from Atomic Vaudeville who brought us Ride the Cyclone.
Dogtown! Even though it was a work-shopped performance, not fully realized, it was hilarious to see our town’s antics and people as interpreted through Roy Ness in this very funny tale.

Adventure traveller/writer/photographer.

Mountain bike and Fat bike riding. Baking. Outside time. Dancing and taking in live music shows.

Pivot Theatre Festival announces 2015 Lineup

Pivot Theatre Festival announces 2015 Lineup

Nakai Theatre, in partnership with the Yukon Arts Centre, is excited to announce the lineup for the 2015 Pivot Festival.

Now in its eighth year, the Pivot festival continues to establish itself as the Yukon’s January oasis of contemporary local, national and international theatre. Between January 17 and 24, the Festival will offer its most accessible and enjoyable program yet, serving up something for everyone in the family.

”From family oriented theatre events, to spoken word, to thematically and stylistically cutting edge drama, we are excited that this Pivot embraces many different Yukon audiences,” said Festival co-curator and Nakai Theatre Artistic Director David Skelton.

This year’s lineup stays true to the origins of the Pivot Theatre Festival and aims to bring accessible and ambitious theatre performance to the Yukon.

“David and I have reviewed dozens of Canadian and international performances to arrive at this wonderfully diverse blend of theatre and performance pieces,” said Festival co-curator and YAC artistic director Eric Epstein. “Programming a festival of this sort in the middle of the Yukon winter makes for certain challenges. We know that people want to see a ray of hope, even in the more challenging work.”

The festival kicks off with a by donation public performance of Mammalian Diving Reflex’s international hit, Haircuts by Children. The show embraces a theatrical style called ‘social acupuncture’ and follows a class of grade five students from Elijah Smith Elementary School who take over one of Whitehorse’s premiere hair salons, Head to Toe, and run it for the day. The students will have received one week’s training to prepare for political and local celebrity clientele. This particular medium challenges conventional roles and power structures. Audiences of all ages can enjoy the results.

This year’s flagship theatre production, presented at the Yukon Arts Centre between January 21 and 23, will feature Edge of the Woods Theatre’s Ralph+Lina. This Toronto-based physical theatre comedy performed by real-life wife-and-husband team Christine Serra and Dan Watson tells the touching and romantic tale of her grandparents. In the vein of early Fellini, it is a rough and tumble romance following the struggles of two Italian lovers in the face of war, immigration and old age. This show is appropriate for guests aged ten years and older.

This year’s cutting edge theatre piece will be the double-bill of My Pregnant Brother and My Playwright Sister. The first play is the international one-woman hit by Johanna Nutter, which describes her very personal and autobiographical tale of her involvement in her transgendered brother’s pregnancy and childbirth. The second play is the response to the first play by her brother, artist/filmmaker James Diamond.

Together, this duet of plays forms a remarkably intimate exploration of family dynamics and relationships. It also serves as an act of healing between the two siblings. The plays will run at the Old Fire Hall between January 22 and 24 with a special Association franco-yukonnaise sponsored performance of Mon frère est enceinte, the French-language counterpart to My Pregnant Brother. These plays are suitable for teens and adults.

On January 20, Pivot will present a special musical performance at the Old Fire Hall by Christine Fellows. With the aid of a pair of cellists, Christine will perform her Jack London-inspired song, Burning Daylight. Ahead of this performance will be a set of northern songs by local favourite Claire Ness.

Pivot Festival is also thrilled to present a solo performance by acclaimed spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan on January 24 at the Yukon Arts Centre. From his early days with T.O.F.U. (Tons of Fun University) to his vital, ground-breaking performance at the 2010 Olympics opening ceremonies, through his animated internet videos on bullying and trolls, to the recent premiere of his opera Stickboy and accompanying book, Shane has thrilled audiences with the power of his spoken art.

Accompanying these marquee events is the presentation of three exciting new theatrical works in progress:

On January 24, Whitehorse’s own Brian Fidler and Ramshackle Theatre present a workshop reading of Tombstone: A SciFi Western, at the Yukon Arts Centre Studio theatre. Tombstone: A Sci-Fi Western is a staged reading of Ramshackle's new cardboard science fiction puppet show that will premiere in 2016. Don't miss this sneak peak at Ramshackle's new groundbreaking exploration in film, puppetry and science fiction. Featuring Claire Ness, Brian Fidler, Genevieve Doyon and Suki Wellman with original music by Jordy Walker.

A reading of Nanay (Mother) A Testimonial Play will be held at the Whitehorse Public Library on January 18. Developed in a multiyear collaboration between geographers, Filipino migrant domestic workers, advocacy organizations, and professional theatre artists. Nanay is a testimonial theatre project, directed by Hazel Venzon, starring a local cast of actors and non-actors and includes a group conversation lead by Geraldine Pratt about Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program.

Author of award winning Syphilis: A Love Story, Peter Jickling will read from a new work at the Whitehorse Public Library on January 25.

The Pivot Theatre Festival will once again be offering the popular Pivot Pass, which includes tickets to Shane Koyczan, Ralph and Lina, and My Pregnant Brother / My Playwright Sister for a special promotional price of $60. Get yours by visiting or calling the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office at 867-667-8574.

For individual tickets or more information about the Festival and its extra events, visit: or

Pivot Festival Sponsorship
Nakai would like to recognize the support of its public sponsors: Government of Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Yukon Arts Operating Fund, Department of Tourism and Culture, Mike Nixon, Minister, with support from the Yukon Lottery Commission. We would also like to recognize the sponsorships from Northern Vision Development, NorthwesTel, Air North, Yukon News and CKRW The Rush.

Artwork Wednesday: Nicole Bauberger

Artwork Wednesday: Nicole Bauberger

‘Grounded and growing’ (2013) Clay and oxides.

A multimedia exhibition with huge emotional resonance, ‘A show called Frances’ is a beautiful ode to a passed companion, and to all deep human-dog relationships.

Nicole Bauberger, talented local painter and sculptor, has created a richly textured series of oil paintings and sculptures based on the memory of her dog, Frances, now on display in the Community Gallery.

The inky black Frances appears in many shapes and sizes through the artwork, from clay and oxides figures, to painted portraits, to a tiny silhouette on a golden locket.  Bauberger is fond of painting black ravens, and she harnessed this skill to paint Frances.

The exhibition nods to the many deep relationships residents of the Yukon, and female Yukoners in particular, have with their pet dogs. Bauberger includes a book with the exhibition for visitors to sign, and share memories of their own pets, or memories of Frances.
‘A show called Frances’ will be on display in the Community Gallery from January 8th until January 31st, 2015.

‘Dean and Frances’ (2014) detail, oil on canvas.

To see more of Bauberger’s work, or to request a commissioned portrait, please visit her personal artist website at

News Release: Artists sought for 2015 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency Program

News Release: Artists sought for 2015 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency Program

Le français suit l'anglais

Combine your Love of the Outdoors and your Artistic Abilities on the Chilkoot Trail

Canadian and American Artists sought for 2015 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency Program


January, 6, 2015    Whitehorse, Yukon    
Parks Canada Agency/Yukon Arts Centre/US National Park Service

Ryan Leef, Member of Parliament for Yukon, today announced that Parks Canada, the Yukon Arts Centre and the US National Park Service have launched the 2015 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency and are seeking three visual artists – one from Canada, one from the United States and one regional (Yukon or Alaska) – to participate in a cross-border creative journey. The program invites artists to hike the famous Chilkoot Trail, passing through Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Alaska) and Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site (northern British Columbia).

Originally used by Tlingit First Nation traders the Chilkoot Trail gained its fame during the Klondike Gold Rush. As news of a major gold discovery along Bonanza Creek spurred thousands of men to the head to the Klondike, the Chilkoot Trail quickly became the primary entry point to the Yukon goldfields. The Chilkoot Trail is now a popular destination for adventurous tourists. Present day hikers take an average of four to five days to complete the trek, whereas these artists will spend two weeks on the Trail interacting with hikers, creating art, and engaging with the site’s heritage. During and following their residencies, artists will present public outreach programs such as talks, workshops and demonstrations.

Last year, Canadian photography duo Jessica Auer and Andreas Rutkauskas, videographer Steve Snell from the United States, and Yukon painter Daphne Mennell were selected for the residency. Very diverse artwork was inspired by their journeys, much of it featured on their respective websites. 2014 US artist-in-residence Steve Snell recently unveiled a short trailer for his forthcoming video work Chilkoot Legends.

Quick Facts
• Daphne Mennell, one of the artists attending the 2014 Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency, described her Chilkoot adventure as “…one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
• In its fifth season, the program grows in popularity each year. In 2014, a record number of 170 applications were submitted. This is a 40% application increase from 2013. This year, organizers expect an even greater response and urge artists of all disciplines to apply early.
• The deadline for applications is February 1st, 2015. Program information and applications are available on the Yukon Arts Centre Website. 

“Our Government is committed to promoting our rich natural and cultural heritage. Through our support, the Chilkoot Trail Artist in Residency program will help connect people to the rich and diverse history and culture that have helped shape our region. This program has the added benefit of supporting our important tourism industry which is vital to the Yukon’s economy.”
Ryan Leef, Member of Parliament, Yukon

“For the Yukon Arts Centre, the residencies are a way of fostering the Yukon’s creative and cultural economy by developing ties with tourism; bringing new and broader audiences into contact with contemporary artists; providing a stimulating working experience for artists; and encouraging art making that explores and even challenges ideas and issues in landscape art.”
Mary Bradshaw, Gallery Director, Yukon Arts Centre

Related Product

Associated Links
Jessica Auer  Andreas Rutkauskas
Steve Snell and his video Chilkoot Legends
Daphne Mennell

Katie Newman,
Marketing Director
Yukon Arts Centre

Stella Patera,
Public Outreach Education Officer
Parks Canada


Combinez votre amour des grands espaces et vos talents artistiques sur la piste Chilkoot

À la recherche d’artistes canadiens et américains souhaitant participer à l’édition 2015 du Programme d’artistes en résidence de la piste Chilkoot


Le 6 janvier 2015    Whitehorse (Yukon)    
Agence Parcs Canada/Centre des arts du Yukon/Service des parcs nationaux des États-Unis

Ryan Leef, député du Yukon, a annoncé aujourd’hui que Parcs Canada, le Centre des arts du Yukon et le Service des parcs nationaux des États-Unis ont lancé l’édition 2015 du Programme d’artistes en résidence de la piste Chilkoot. Ils sont à la recherche de trois artistes visuels – un du Canada, un des États-Unis et un de la région (Yukon ou Alaska) – qui souhaitent participer à ce parcours de création transfrontalière. Le Programme d’artistes en résidence de la piste Chilkoot invite des artistes à parcourir la célèbre piste qui traverse le parc historique national de la Ruée-Vers-l’Or-du-Klondike, en Alaska, et le lieu historique national de la Piste-Chilkoot, dans le nord de la Colombie-Britannique.

Autrefois emprunté par les commerçants de la Première Nation des Tlingits, la piste Chilkoot est devenue célèbre lors de la ruée vers l’or du Klondike. Lorsque la nouvelle de la découverte d’or le long du ruisseau Bonanza a incité des milliers d’hommes à se rendre au Klondike, la piste Chilkoot est rapidement devenue le principal accès aux champs aurifères du Yukon. La piste Chilkoot est aujourd’hui une destination prisée des touristes en quête d’aventure. De nos jours, les randonneurs parcourent généralement la piste en quatre ou cinq jours, tandis que les artistes y passeront deux semaines pour échanger avec les randonneurs, créer des œuvres d’art et s’imprégner du patrimoine des lieux. Pendant leur séjour et après, les artistes offriront des programmes de diffusion externe comme des causeries, des ateliers et des démonstrations.

L’an dernier, les artistes choisis ont été le couple de photographes canadiens Jessica Auer et Andreas Rutkauskas, le vidéaste américain Steve Snell et la peintre yukonnaise Daphne Mennel. Leur parcours leur a inspiré des œuvres d’art diverses dont beaucoup sont affichées sur leurs sites Web respectifs. Steve Snell, artiste en résidence américain pour l’édition 2014, a récemment dévoilé la bande-annonce de sa vidéo Chilkoot Legends, qui prendra bientôt l’affiche.

Les faits en bref
• Daphne Mennel, une des artistes ayant participé au programme en 2014, décrit son aventure sur la piste Chilkoot comme une des plus belles expériences de sa vie.
• Le programme, qui en est à sa cinquième édition, gagne en renommée chaque année. En 2014, un nombre record de 170 dossiers de candidature a été soumis, une hausse de 40 % par rapport à 2013. Cette année, les organisateurs s’attendent à une participation encore plus importante et ils invitent les artistes de toutes les disciplines à poser leur candidature le plus tôt possible.

• La date limite pour présenter une demande est le 1er février 2015. Pour en savoir davantage sur le programme ou présenter votre candidature, consultez le site Web du Centre des arts du Yukon.

« Notre gouvernement s’est engagé à promouvoir notre riche patrimoine naturel et culturel. Grâce à notre appui, le Programme d’artistes en résidence de la piste Chilkoot aidera les gens à tisser des liens avec l’histoire et la culture variées et magnifiques qui ont contribué à façonner notre région. Ce programme permet également de soutenir notre industrie touristique, laquelle est essentielle à l’économie du Yukon. »

Ryan Leef, député du Yukon, Yukon

« Pour le Centre des arts du Yukon, le programme d’artistes en résidence permet de stimuler le milieu créatif et culturel du Yukon en établissant des liens avec le tourisme, en créant des liens entre de nouveaux et vastes publics et des artistes contemporains, en offrant une expérience de travail stimulante aux artistes et en encourageant une création artistique qui explore, voire repense, les idées et les enjeux liés à l’art du paysage. »
Mary Bradshaw, directrice de la galerie, Centre des arts du Yukon

Produit connexe (le français suit l'anglais)

Liens connexes (en anglais seulement)
Jessica Auer et Andreas Rutkauskas
Steve Snell et sa vidéo Chilkoot Legends
Daphne Mennell

Katie Newman
Directrice du marketing
Centre des arts du Yukon

Stella Patera
Agente d’éducation du public et de diffusion externe
Parcs Canada