The decade is drawing to a close, and with it, Quickdraw’s 35th year as an artist-run centre in Calgary. From our Lockdown and Student Screening at cSPACE King Edward—our first time using that space to celebrate our members’ work—to one of the biggest and best years ever for our GIRAF festival of independent animation, it’s been a year full of highlights. But those events aren’t even the half of it.

Our Saturday MASS animation screening series brought some of our all-time favourite films to the Globe Cinema, with family favourites like The Iron Giant and Lady and the Tramp, cult gems like Redline, and Metropolis, rarities like Bruce Bickford’s Prometheus’ Garden, and new classics like Over the Garden Wall. We’re scheming on next year’s lineup, so keep an eye out for the first screening in February.

A generous contribution from the Canada Council for the Arts helped us put together On LGBTQ2S+ Animation, a publication and screening series looking at a sadly unexplored topic in critical animation writing. We were pleased to release the full publication at GIRAF, and we’re in talks with centres around North America for follow-up screenings—it’s great to know the series struck a chord and we’re looking forward to sharing it as widely as we can.

Our Portable Animation Workshops took us to classrooms around the city, including residencies at the Nose Creek School and the Calgary Islamic School, and we were thrilled to partner with the Sunalta Community Association, Two Wheel View and GlobalFest to offer a summer program welcoming immigrant and refugee youth in our community. Our spring and summer camps have also been expanding (have you registered for our Spring Break camps yet?), and we’re thrilled to see what education coordinator Mihaela Slabe has in store for next year.

We also couldn’t talk about education without mentioning Jean-François Côté, our longtime instructor for our QuickKids classes and camps, who moved to northern Quebec this fall. It is honestly impossible to overstate how much JF did for Calgary’s community—how many people he taught and inspired, whether they went on to careers in animation (as many did) or simply had a little more creativity and warmth in their lives from his decades of teaching. If you’re reading this, come back anytime François, we’ll be happy to see you.

Production has been running like gangbusters, too. Even outside in-house efforts like the 10 films produced in our Animation Lockdown, the Endless Space loops created with Beakerhead, and the films being finished as part of our Chris J. Melnychuk scholarship, our producing members have been beyond busy this year. We’re extremely proud to have had a hand in projects like Kassia Ward’s NFB-produced the Collector, installations like the trio of Quickdraw members at EMMEDIA’s Spectral Illuminations, and on going efforts like the Learning Bond Project the Calgary Animated Object Society is leading—we could go on, but we’d still end up leaving out too many folks. Our studios, equipment and resources supported 44 films, installations, apps, music videos and performances this year in various states of completion, and with a half-dozen or so successful AFA grant applications from our membership in the most recent cycle, we’re looking forward to even more activity in the new year.

Our new Hot Desk Lab (supported by the Rozsa Foundation’s experiment grant program) has been used basically non-stop, too, and we’re in the process of setting up a VR workstation for members who want to explore virtual environments. But that’s nothing compared to some of our ideas for new production programs and tools. If all goes according to plan, by the end of 2020 it’ll be more enticing than ever to make a project at Quickdraw.

Then there’s been the one-offs and pleasant surprises, like the invitation to the MONSTRA animation festival in Portugal to spotlight contemporary independent animation in Canada—it was such a privilege to represent that community, and we hope we did it justice. It’s been a busy year, and we couldn’t be more proud of our members, our students, volunteers, staff and board. Here’s looking forward to another stellar year in 2020.

PS: As a charitable organization, a big part of how we can do all that we do and keep it affordable and accessible is through support from our community. There are a lot of great causes out there, but if you value what Quickdraw does, one of the best ways to support it is through a tax-deductible donation.

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