An article by Jonathan Shipley in Issue 13 explores how the climate around Seattle has influenced the art community of that city. He links the insular, self-reflective spirit of the arts community there to the famed damp and dreary weather of the Pacific Northwest.
Driving out onto the prairies from my home of Calgary today, I was thinking back on Shipley's piece and contemplating how weather shapes Calgary's arts. It's a question that anyone can ask of their own town. Despite the wet conditions that I was driving through, Calgary boasts itself to be the sunniest city in Canada or North America, depending on who you ask. (Environment Canada lists it has having the most sunny days in Canada, at 333.) The other weather phenomenon that we lay claim to is the similarly cheerful chinook: a foehn wind (you can look it up in your Issue 13 abecedary!) that can warm the chilliest winter days by fifteen or twenty degrees.
When I think about how that shapes Calgary's artistic identity, the one thought I keep coming back to is just how gosh darn hard it is to be a curmudgeon here. The coldest days of the year are bright and clear, and a chinook may be just around the corner. Summer is short, but filled with days so perfect that even the sun lingers long past any civilized bedtime. One can't even become cynical about the sunniness, in the way that one might in more tropical climes. Trying to characterize the spirit of an entire community is always difficult, but I do feel like we have far more optimists than cynics. Within the city as a whole, the cultural community can feel a little bit neglected, but at the same time there's often genuine, heartfelt belief that the city is on the cusp of a sea-change in terms of its awareness of local culture, and thus our role within our city. That's not to say there's no cynicism—about self, about the community, about life in general, but I always feel like there's a bit of an optimist's streak underlying so much of the creative work that's done in the city.
So now I'll put the question out to you: how does the weather of your city affect the artistic community and the work that's done there?