Meet Hazel Venzon, Programming Associate at the Yukon Arts Centre. From a background in acting and producing theatre productions, Hazel brings energy, creativity and much humor to the mix. She grew up the youngest of three in a bilingual household in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and confesses to having been the butt of many jokes amongst her siblings. Read on to see how Hazel answered six questions,  giving us a glimpse ‘behind-the-scenes’ at her dynamic role here at the Yukon Arts Centre.

DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTE IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.
Work  inside a spinning kaleidoscope.

WHAT IS A PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATE?

The connective tissue between the vision of the Artistic Director, and the rest of the production, box office, accounting, and marketing staff at the Yukon Arts Centre and the Old Fire Hall.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

I administrate, manage, and produce every performing artist contract that comes through the Yukon Arts Centre– for theatre, music and dance, sometimes hypnotists and magicians, too! In a day, I will interface with hotel managers, caterers, agents, assistants, assistants’ assistants, arts administrators, artists, internal YAC staff; working on Mainstage and Old Firehall shows at present, in a few weeks time and then months from now. I also help assist the marketing and promotion of each performance, as well. Whenever there’s a chance to build a relationship between a visiting artist and those outside of Whitehorse, I help organize this too. It’s a big job. Most importantly, it’s a creative job.  I also get to hang out with the visitors while they’re here, a lot can happen between the time I pick them up at the airport and drop them off at their hotel – enough time for Dr. Gabor Mate to psychoanalyze me, that’s for sure!

WHAT IS A POPULAR MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR JOB?
That I am an assistant. It gets me fired up inside because that word is nowhere to be found in my title. My role certainly feels assistive, but it’s not my sole responsibility. There are so many details that go into making each show at the Yukon Arts Centre – it’s imperative we all assist one another.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CAREER?
I kept on a winding path and found myself here. By winding path, I literally mean cross-country, touching north and going back down south, on and off islands, hauling totes on and off the Greyhound, bike on shoulder, chasing gigs through big cities, running out of money, etc. I began with theatre training at Studio 58 (Vancouver). I chose this school over the others because it had a prerequisite to produce, write and direct a solo-show by graduation. By mid program, I found myself an agent, and by graduation, I had been working full-time as an actress. I remained working in the theatre as opposed to film or TV because I felt most alive on stage. For a woman, and a woman of colour, traditional theatre roles remained limiting, which caused me to write and produce my own stuff, co-collaborate with independent theatre companies across Canada, always creating new work. I started producing more and more. Remembering something Norman Armour said when I produced for the PuSh Festival (Vancouver) “that a good producer is hard to find”; I knew then, that that was a role that was needed in the performing arts. So, here I am. Learning and being challenged while exercising what I know. I still carry a flame for acting, but it’s not as fulfilling as what I do today.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE EXPERIENCE AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE SO FAR?
To date, nothing has ever topped the time when Bruce McCullough asked me to play a small part in his show ‘Young Drunk Punk’. I remember picking him up at the airport, making small talk, and then all things became a blurry wash of slow motion until I said the words “I’m your gal”. In a blink I was back in real time, thinking “oh my god, oh my god, what is happening? What? What just happened? I don’t have a red dress.. I lied.. ahhhh…holy s_it !!!!!” I was given the role of “Crazy Chick”. I had to memorize an 80’s song, enter the stage singing it badly, then turn to Bruce and get really really mad and run off stage. It was a cameo, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever have foreseen him giving me blocking and stage direction!  It was a real treat for the adrenaline junkie that I am.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?
I have yet to reveal this publically because I’m not quite sure yet…it’s like knowing what I want to be when I grow up - feels impossible to know when one is fully grown.