Community People Profiles is a series on the Salt Spring Exchange featuring local personalities on our dynamic Gulf Island. Our People Profiles are short interviews, with one answer questions to share with you a little about what each of the people we will feature are thinking about as they go about their lives living on Salt Spring Island.
This weeks featured local people profile is: James Cowan
Here’s a bit about James:
I'm a small town kid who moved to the city to pursue a music career, which led into a career producing major festivals across Canada. Now I get the best of both worlds by being able to live on Salt Spring with my family and work on festivals and events, doing what I love to do. It's my second year as the Coordinator for the Salt Spring Film Festival which brings both of my worlds together. The Film Fest has a great group of people at the core and it's a shining example of a small town event.
What brought you to Salt Spring Island?
We moved to Salt Spring in 2008 after back and forthing for a couple of years and extracting ourselves from the city jobs. We had grand plans and dreams with a cooperative farming project which didn't work out, but we stayed here as it's now our home. Salt Spring is a great balance of small town community with access to cities across the water. Although our reason for bringing us here is no longer, the reasons for staying are many. I'm a big fan of the outdoors and exploring the island.
What one thing about Salt Spring would you tell someone who has never visited the island?
Come visit! Come see the scenery, breathe the air, hear the silence at night, see the stars, feel the ocean. Meet some of the local characters that keep this place alive. Eat some of the food that is grown and made here. Hear the music that comes out of every cafe, living room, porch, forest and beach. Every person we bring to the island loves it here. The island has its own unique personality that draws people in and appeals to all of their senses.
If you had a magic Salt Spring wand, what island thing would you change?
The Salt Spring of my dreams actively cultivates the arts. There'd be schools and workshops available for all ages for music, theatre, arts, dance, filmmaking... all artistic mediums. There would be performance venues, galleries, theatres and public spaces available to showcase all of the arts. Artists could take risks on new projects knowing they had the support to create and avenues to showcase their creativity. And, festivals would flourish- film, music, theatre, art, choir, dance, food......
Which well known person, living or dead, do you think would be a good addition to the island?
Sonny Rollins. The sax player. I've worked with him a couple of times and have been beyond inspired from his creativity, work ethic, dedication to music and total willingness to engage with people. He practices for hours as a warm up to performing and often for an hour after performing to cool down. The depth of his music and performance is immeasurable. He cares so much for young people, and their talents. To have an artist of his depth and generosity on Salt Spring would add great wealth.
Is there a really good interview question we should have asked you?
What's your favourite part about the Salt Spring Film Festival?
How would you have answered your question?
The people. The group of people at the core of the festival are some of the most hard working and dedicated folks I've ever worked with. It's a small town festival with big time organization and backbone. I also love the people aspect of the festival itself. The festival brings out strong opinions and emotions in those who see the films. And, we get to meet some of the filmmakers and film subjects who take are able to give extra depth to the topics at hand and surrounding conversations.
Here's an interview with ShawTV about the Salt Spring Film Festival featuring James: