It's fitting that the Zuppa Circus team should occupy the cover of this particular issue, our last. In the summer of 2000, the first of eight at this newspaper, we were assigned to cover The Sneetches, a play based on a Dr. Seuss story, being performed on the waterfront by an upstart company whose name we weren't sure how to pronounce (Zupp-a? Zoo-pa?).
In that half-hour, under a setting sun with tourists milling about, we fell in love with the troupe's boundless energy and seemingly limitless innovation. We've never missed a production, and not out of any professional obligation—even when the plays haven't been entirely successful, the company's aim has always been true, and its members humble and approachable, and it's taught us a lot about art in this city. Good people can do good work, often for very little money—the waterfront has been sadly devoid of Zuppa for years now—and by sticking to their vision and their own terms, they can enliven and encourage and inspire the city they call home.
We've been thinking about Zuppa and other inspirations as we pack relics of the past seven years—posters and programs and clippings about plays, gigs, movies and events that we've attended, admired and been moved by. It's hard to live in Halifax sometimes, from a cultural standpoint—this is an all-or-nothing city, where weeks will go by with zero to do and then there will be three amazing events on a lone night.
It's hard to live in Halifax from an artistic standpoint, too—even if you set aside the debacle that was the dissolution of the Nova Scotia Arts Council (and how could you?), funding is hard to come by and often travels to projects that are the safer moneymakers and thematically in line with a more "traditional" Nova Scotia, i.e. more worthy of support from the government. Nobody makes any money and everybody takes shit for leaving—sometimes for staying!—and yet still there is art. Heartfelt, sincere, guts-filled art.
Thanks to this job we've gotten to speak with many bold-faced names. They include a number of people who are important to us as artists—always the most terrifying interview because there's much more at stake than just the story—and one hero, Miranda July. Matthew Good, who has hung up on more than a few journalists, gave us two terrific and candid interviews. We spoke with Jason Jones years before The Daily Show knew his name, back when he was making a series here called The Itch with the moderately more talented Jessica Holmes, currently slumming it on Air Farce. (That was our first cover.) We've got the home phone numbers of directors Catherine Hardwicke (thirteen), Mike Mills (Thumbsucker), Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me), John Carney (Once) and Mary Harron (The Notorious Bettie Page). We've chatted with awesome musicians like Kathleen Edwards, Jose Contreras of By Divine Right, Thom D'Arcy of Small Sins, Todd Clark of Pilate, Oh Susanna, Holly McNarland and Laura Wills of Pony Up!.
Most of those experiences were great—no freak-outs in seven years of interviews!—but nothing compares to the artists who we've been lucky enough to come up with locally. To put a local musician/actor/filmmaker/artist on the cover was probably the greatest duty we had—and just because we didn't write it doesn't mean we didn't fight for it. Personal favourites like Wintersleep, Ruth Minnikin, In-Flight Safety, Jenn Grant, Rose Cousins, Jill Barber and Great Plains. Success stories like Ellen Page, Jason Eisener and Chaz Thorne. Heroes like Steve Murphy—it took six years of pitching for that one. Theatre artists like Jackie Torrens, Josh MacDonald, Mary Vingoe, Gay Hauser, Jest in Time and Sue Leblanc-Crawford.
Yes, this is an artful town. And for all that we won't miss about this space and its associations—whiny phone calls, clueless publicists, low-res photos, attachments, non-existent conspiracies against the rave and metal scenes (no one has that kind of time), the feeling that no matter what you do, you can never do enough—we are sincerely sad to no longer be in the position of first. First to get the email or the package with the news or the record that will add to our lives in some significant way. For some people, being the first to know is a matter of pedigree, of bragging rights. For us, it was part of the job, whether it made us feel superior or not. More importantly, it was a privilege. Thank you.
Arts Editor Tara Thorne is leaving The Coast after seven glorious years. Everybody here wishes her the very best for the future: You’ll be missed, Tara. Taking over the Arts Ed hot seat is current Coast Special Features Editor Sue Carter Flinn. Send messages of welcome and all your arts news to firstname.lastname@example.org