Festival Profiles is a new blog series that brings you into the lives of the film festival staff and volunteers that dedicate their time and passion to put this festival on. Whether they've been with us since the beginning or are new to the team, these are the people that work year-round to make the festival happen.
For our first profile, we talk with our new chairD'Arcy Levesque – elected to the Calgary International Film Festival board of directors just last week. With a wealth of experience in the local arts sector, D'Arcy has a passion for the arts. He's served on several boards and councils and is a key figure in connecting Calgary's corporate businesses to locals non-profits. An art collector and frequent festival attendee, when he's not taking in the latest cultural events you can find D'Arcy exploring nature – either the Alberta Rockies or the desert near his home in Palm Springs.
First up: the all-important bio
D’Arcy Levesque is a seasoned communication’s consultant and strategist with more than 30 years experience in both the public and private sectors. He has worked for some of Canada’s largest companies, helping to build and sustain reputational strategies with a focus on brand and corporate social responsibility. Most recently he served as Western Canada Chair for Hill and Knowlton Strategies. Prior to H&K he served as Vice-President, Enterprise Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Enbridge for 14 years. He has also held senior executive roles with True North Energy, Syncrude Canada and served as a Communications Director for a number of Alberta Government Ministers.
An active member of the community and a passionate supporter of the arts in Canada, D’Arcy currently serves as a director for the Governor General’s Foundation for the Performing Arts. He is a trustee for the National Theatre School of Canada; member of the Walrus Foundation National Advisory Council; and a director for the National Arts Centre Foundation. He has previously served on a number of art’s boards in Calgary including, Chair, Alberta College of Art and Design; Board member, Calgary Arts Development (CADA); Calgary Opera and Contemporary Calgary Art Gallery. His work in support of the arts has been recognized by the Canadian Business for the Arts Award and the Glenbow Museum’s Eric Harvie Award.
He currently divides his time between Calgary and his home in Palm Springs, California.
And now for some questions.
Name your favourite film and why it's important to you?
It would be hard to name one favourite film given my eclectic tastes and interests. At the risk of dating myself, I have always enjoyed classic epics like CITIZEN KANE, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DR. ZHIVAGO. More recently, THE GODFATHER, and Robert Altman films like NASHVILLE and THE PLAYER are favourites. I always enjoy Woody Allen films and I watch a lot of documentaries, especially about art, culture and design.
How did you first get involved in the Calgary arts scene?
I have always been involved with the arts, first while growing up in Edmonton where I served as the founding President of the Edmonton Business Council for Visual Arts and a member of the Edmonton Art Gallery Board. When I relocated to Calgary over 17 years ago I joined the Board of Calgary Opera before being transferred to the United States. When I returned to Calgary I continued to serve as a volunteer for a number of arts groups and was instrumental in helping to establish the cash prizes for the Mayor’s Luncheon for Business and the Arts. In addition, while serving as an Executive at Enbridge and other companies I always tried to champion the arts, given that I believe very strongly that they contribute to making our city a more dynamic place to live and work.
What makes Calgary's arts scene unique?
Calgary’s art scene is unique for a variety of reasons. First, we are blessed with some amazing artistic and talented professionals who have helped to shape and guide a number of artistic organizations from dance, theatre and music to the visual arts. Secondly, Calgary’s volunteers are extremely dedicated and passionate, which is so critical to sustaining many of our non-profit art organizations. And finally, Calgary’s artistic community is not afraid to take risks and have created many new works which have helped to make our city an exciting place to live. I have always said that a city without the arts is like a man without a soul.
What's been your best festival moment?
I have been to a number of art festivals both in Calgary and around the world. Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Venice Bianale which was very stimulating. More recently I really enjoyed the 2018 Palm Springs International Film Festival, which was a lot of fun.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy traveling both in Canada and around the world. I love to collect art which has always been a passion of mine. I like to get back to nature whenever possible - hiking is very therapeutic - in the mountains here in Alberta or the desert near Palm Springs. And spending time with my friends, very often at arts or cultural events or going to movies or art galleries is always rewarding.
What are you most looking forward to about joining the Calgary International Film Festival team?
I’m really looking forward to helping support our dedicated Board, the dynamic team and all the volunteers at Calgary International Film Festival and to help grow both the audience experience and the festival itself. The film festival has enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years in terms of both attendance and audience engagement. I’m committed to helping the festival build on this solid reputation given I believe there are still Calgarians and visitors to our city that have not yet been exposed to the festival’s 12 days in September and all the great stories that are shared from around the world.
D'Arcy Levesque has been elected to a two-year term on the Calgary International Film Festival's 14-person volunteer board of directors.