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.
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO AT THE YUKON ARTS CENTRE IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS.
I manage the day-to-day operations at the OFH.
WHAT IS A VENUE COORDINATOR AT THE OLD FIRE HALL?
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.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?
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.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
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!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS CAREER?
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!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE YUKON?
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.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE SHOW AT YAC?
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.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE SHOW AT THE OLD FIRE HALL?
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.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE NOT A VENUE COORDINATOR?
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
Mountain bike and Fat bike riding. Baking. Outside time. Dancing and taking in live music shows.