When I created Eventful Capital in November 2011, I essentially had one objective in mind: to help change the way people perceive the National Capital Region. It was important for me to let the world know that fun things abound around here and that exciting stuff happens on the regular in our nation’s capital. I wanted to create a simple tool that people could turn to, to find out about the numerous events being held in and around Ottawa-Gatineau. I hoped this blog could act as a reliable source of information and paint an accurate picture of the local cultural scene. Five years deep, I thought I’d look back and reflect on the then and now.
Looking back, I can’t help but feel sad and nostalgic when I think of the various venues that we’ve had to say goodbye to through the years. Places like Mugshots, Raw Sugar Cafe, the Daily Grind, and Ritual (RIP) come to mind. These cherished culture hubs were gathering places for those who support local arts and certainly played an instrumental role in helping our city’s scene grow. They are truly missed and I’ll always have fond memories of the times I spent there. Thankfully, the gaps they left were filled by new welcomed venues like Bar Robo, Live on Elgin, House of Targ, Le Temporaire and the Minotaure who host a variety of events on a weekly basis, supporting musicians and visual artists alike.
Between 2011 and 2016, our region also gave birth to new organizations that work towards improving our local cultural scene, namely the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, Megaphono, Babely Shades, l’Ambassade Culturelle, Nuit Blanche Ottawa-Gatineau and Ottawa Beat, just to name a few.
There have been some milestone anniversaries as well, for example the legendary Mercury Lounge, which just turned 20 years old, Bluesfest, which also marked its 20th anniversary in 2014, and the Timekode movement, that just celebrated 11 years of soul moving soles.
Ottawa-Gatineau being the capital of festivals, you’d think there are enough existing ones already. Yet, they keep popping up left and right to the delight of festival-goers. I’m thinking Arboretum, Glowfair, Megaphono, the Ottawa Grassroots Festival and Marvest, among others.
There has also been more and more municipal support for culture and arts initiatives (the #OttMusik program for example), which is generally encouraging and certainly appreciated by our community.
It also wouldn’t be right to publish this post without giving a big shout-out to all the other blogs and influencers, who, like Eventful Capital, work towards supporting the Ottawa-Gatineau artistic scene. I see you Ottawa Showbox, Couch Assassin, Apt613, Sous-Sol 819, Spotlight Ottawa, Sometimes Always, our community radio stations CKCU, CHUO and RÉÉL-Radio. Thank you, for doing what you do, your work is truly important and our community needs you.
At times, I’ve asked myself why I bother with this blog, wondering if it’s really worth all the time, energy and effort I pour into it week after week. And then, I remember all of the emails I receive from artists, movers and shakers who call on my help to spread the good word, and all of the wonderful people I have met along the way who make this place so special, and I shake that feeling off because in the end, I know that if I’ve helped just a handful of people fall in love with our nation’s capital, I’ve done my part, and that’s all that matters.
And what have I learned over the course of the past five years? I’ve learned that working together and helping each other out makes us stronger, and that we have a better scene for it. So thank you, lovely people of Ottawa-Gatineau who believe in our local cultural scene and support it in one way or another. Let’s keep building this great little region of ours. Here’s to another five! *heart emoji*