Thursday, May 28, 2009

2 Calls to Artists

Filling Station, Calgary's own unique arts and literary magazine has just announced 2 open calls to artists for their upcoming Independent Press & Arts Fair and their Blow-Out Art Show and Sale!

About the Independent Press & Arts Fair:
The Independent Press & Arts Fair will take place from 10-4 on Saturday July 4 2009. The tables are just $20.00 or $10.00 with the donation of a prize to the Silent Auction. Accommodation to artists producing art 'objects' rather than solely visual work will be given priority. If interested in purchasing a table, please reply to Managing Editor of Filling Station Laurie Fuhr at or 403 999 2566. Space will fill up fast so act now!

About the Blow Out Art Show & Sale:
The Filling Station Blow Out is a festival which celebrates established and upcoming local writers, and also includes performance artists, visual artists, independent music, and Calgary's only Independent Press & Arts Fair. Unlike other local festivals, Blow Out puts clear emphasis on our Calgary literary community and plays a key role in energizing its members. The event also serves as Filling Station Magazine's most crucial annual fundraiser.
Due to restrictions for hanging art in the Arrata Centre (a Heritage building), we challenge artists to find new and interesting means of displaying their art for this show. For visual artists, items can be affixed with wall-friendly materials like white Uhu tack, displayed using traditional free-standing options like easels or stand frames, or use can be made of unexpected solutions like laundry drying racks, planters, bicycles, etc. Interested artists, please send images along with an artist statement including contact information for artwork purchase inquiries and pricing for work to curator Janet Biagioni at Artists may set up their work on Thursday, July 2 from 6-10 PM or on Friday, July 3 from 6-7 PM. Art will be on display July 3 and 4 during other events of the Blow Out including 2 reading and performance events, the Independent Press & Arts Fair and 2 concerts. A reception will take place from 12-4 on Saturday July 4 including music and refreshments.

These events take place in the heart of downtown Calgary in the beautiful Arrata Opera Centre (
1315 7 Street SW, Calgary, AB), a converted cathedral. Just steps from 17th Ave SW, every event is full of passers-by, patrons who've heard of the events through media, postering and word of mouth!

About the Filling Station Magazine & The Blow Out: Filling Station Magazine is an innovative Calgary literary & arts magazine with national distribution. They are a non-profit society registered with the Government of Alberta. This year, Filling Station Magazine's 5th Annual Blow-Out will take place on July 2 at Pages (1135 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, AB)
and July 3-4 at the Arrata Opera Centre.

For more information, check out

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amber Webb-Bowerman's Spirit Shines On

One year ago today, the Alberta magazine publishing industry lost an indefatigable bright light. Writer, journalist, mentor and friend to many, Amber Webb-Bowerman was killed in a murder-suicide where Joshua Lall also took the lives of his wife and two girls.

At a news conference Tuesday, the focus was on moving forward and continuing Amber's spirit. The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation announced that it will offer six annual scholarships per year to students in journalism and arts programs. The foundation has so far been supported through donations from across Canada.

Says Bowerman's widower and foundation president Chris Bowerman, "It's creating something positive out of something devastating and meaningless. It seemed impossible that we could not keep her spirit alive. She had too much spirit, too much life and energy and enjoyment of life for it to just go away."

"I think what we've done is we've transferred some of that energy into positive change," said Bowerman. "The inspiration was, and always will be, Amber. She was an extraordinary person and an exceptional journalist."

More links:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Latest News from Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation

As a board member of the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation, I'm pleased to announce what we've accomplished in Amber's name, one year since we tragically lost her.

We've established six post-secondary scholarships with a value of $1,000 each in Amber’s name:
• The University of Regina, in journalism
• Grant MacEwan College, in professional writing
• University of Calgary, in music
• Mount Royal College, in journalism
• ACAD, in painting
And because Amber was a student at SAIT Polytechnic, and was an editor of the Weal student newspaper, we have partnered with the SAIT Students Association to also offer a journalism scholarship.

We've also partnered with the Western Magazine Awards to establish a student writing award which will be given out on June 19. Through these scholarships and awards, we hope to help students step into careers in areas that were important to Amber.

Chris Bowerman, foundation president, summed things up at this morning's media conference: "With the generous donations of countless Calgarians as well as people from across the country, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation was established to provide journalism and arts scholarships to deserving students. It is truly a testament to Amber’s zest for life that when people heard her story, they were compelled to reach out and do something positive in her memory. The generosity of our donors inspired us, even through our own grief, to create this memorial foundation as a tangible and lasting legacy."

Thank you to all of our donors and supporters, and we hope to see you at our upcoming Sugarbowl fundraiser on August 8th.

Learn more about all of our programs and the fundraiser, and make a donation at: (The foundation is a registered charity that issues tax receipts.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

7th Annual Calgary Book Drive & Sale!

Supported by The Calgary Herald, the Annual Calgary Book Drive and Sale is in its 7th year! This initiative aims to support Servants Anonymous and Raise a Reader Day.

Servants Anonymous is a non-profit organization that assists young women 16-29 who have decided to leave prostitution and life on the streets by providing shelter, life skills, recovery skills, education and job experience so they can maintain healthy lifestyles for themselves and their children.

Raise a Reader Day, The Calgary Herald's annual literary initiative aims to foster the love of reading in young people. This is a Canada-wide event to promote the growth of healthy children through the joy of reading.

By bringing a toonie (only $2 folks) to the Crossroads Market on June 12-14 and June 19-21, you can contribute to both these essential and beneficial initiatives to promote healthy living plus find great books of all kinds!

Crossroads Market, 1235 26 Avenue SE, Calgary, AB
Admission $2
Sale Days Friday June 12 & 19 (12-6)
Saturday June 13 & 20 (9-5)
Sunday 14 & 21 (11-5)

All firehalls accepting books except stations 13 and 25.
Collection is from May 7 to June 4.

Happy reading to all!


Winners of the 2009 Alberta Literary Awards!

On May 23, 2009 the winners of the 2009 Alberta Literary Awards were announced as part of the Limitless Sky Conference put on by The Writers' Union of Canada and The Writers Guild of Alberta in Calgary. With over 140 submissions from talent across Alberta, it surely was no easy task to pick the winners. However, the choices were made and the winners announced...congratulations to all the award winners for there outstanding contributions to making Alberta's literary scene a thriving one!

Hazel Hutchins (Canmore) received the R. Ross Annett Award for Children's Literature for her picture book Mattland.
Jaspreet Singh, recently shortlisted for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, received the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction for his novel Chef.
Caterina Edwards received the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction for Finding Rosa: A Mother with Alzheimer's, a Daughter in Search of the Past. This book was also shortlisted for this year's City of Edmonton Book Prize.
Sharon Pollock, two-time Governor General Award winner was awarded the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama for Kabloona Talk, from Sharon Pollock: Collected Works Volume Three.
Lisa Martin-DeMoor (Edmonton) won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry for her first collection of poetry, One Crow Sorrow.
Leah Bailly received the inaugural Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award for Long Views Across Nothing.
Barb Howard (Bragg Creek) received the Howard O'Hagan Award for Short Story for Mrs. Goodfellow's Dog, published in Grain.

The Writers' Union of Canada also presented the highly anticipated Danuta Gleed Literary Award to Pasha Malla for The Withdrawal Method.

Again, congratulations to all the winners of this years Alberta Literary Awards and to all who submitted. Keep on writing, creating, and contributing your unique voices and perspectives!!!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New MagaScene & Nominated Mags means Spring savings for you!

The May issue of MagaScene is out. In it, find a Q&A with Kris Demeanor, recipient of the National Magazine Awards' Best New Magazine Writer honour. If you haven't signed up to receive the e-newsletter, do so on our homepage so you can receive it automatically.

A number of Alberta magazines have been nominated for either a National Magazine Award, or a Western Magazine Award--further confirmation of the talent and quality of work by creators in this province.

To show our excitement, we are offering 10% off a subscription to any of the nominated mags, PLUS a set of bright magnets created by Calgary artist Paul Abrey.

Consider the following: how economical subscriptions already are; the quality and depth of research in the feature stories; the visually stunning design and photography; the engaging and geographically relevant content--do you really need any more incentive to subscribe to an Alberta mag? Your subscription means bolstering an already robust, and ever-growing regional magazine industry.

To subscribe, send an email to with the code 'AWARD09' and your magazine choices.

Happy spring reading!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Award-winning art director Malcolm Brown joins Avenue Calgary

Highly decorated award-winning art director Malcolm Brown, recipient of 140 awards nationally and internationally and the former art director for Unlimited magazine, has signed a 10-month contract to be art director for Avenue Calgary while current art director Venessa Brewer goes on maternity leave.

Formerly, Brown worked with Avenue editor Kรคthe Lemon at Outpost when it won Magazine of the Year at the National Magazine Awards in 2002.

“We are very excited to work together again,” said Brown who credits their prior relationship for taking on the job. “Lesson 1: don’t burn your bridges,” he advises. For the past year, Brown had been shooting fashion and portraits in Alberta. Welcome back to Alberta Malcolm!

More links:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Places to take your magazines...

Well, the sporadic weather conditions could tell us otherwise, but I do believe the start of summer is just around the corner...and summertime in Calgary provides plenty of smiles, rafting down the Bow and of course a selection of many diverse and wonderful outdoor festivals all around the City! To start things off, the Lilac Festival on 4th, which boasts on being the best free outdoor festival Calgary has to offer is coming up soon. Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 31 from 10 AM to 6 PM and cross your fingers for a bright sunny day...

...and, once you've wandered among the crowds, filled your belly with kettle corn, danced to some great tunes, and checked out the amazing vendors, take that Alberta magazine out from your satchel and enjoy some nice outdoor magazine reading!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Apple in talks to buy Twitter

It was rumoured to have ended John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston's romance. Ashton Kutcher posted a photo of wife Demi Moore's bottom on his. And President Obama has one too.

It's become a verb (tweet), class (twitterati), and attached to the biggest hype since Facebook. In 140 characters or less, anyone can be his own micr0-fiction author. The social messaging application has set big media companies' hearts aflame. According to a post in Gawker, both Microsoft and Google have expressed interest in buying the startup. Facebook offered $500 million in cash and stocks, but it's the reported $700 million offer from Apple that could have the most bite.

AMPA heard about Twitter in early 2008, when the publisher of Beyond magazine suggested it to me to build community. To say she was ahead of the curve is an understatement.

To date, we haven't started a Twitter account yet. Personally, it seems to be a bit too self-indulgent. Plus, it's yet another investment of our time that could be spent on this blog, or administering AMPA's many programs (internships, Pros On the Road, Alberta Magazines Conference, etc).

So I'm putting this out to you. The question is: to tweet or not to tweet? why or why not?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

AMPA talks to Best New Magazine Writer winner Kris Demeanor

I had an interview today with the Best New Magazine Writer recipient. Calgarian Kris Demeanor won the National Magazine Award for his story "Get a Real Job" which appeared in the December 2007 issue of Unlimited.

The very quotable performance artist, singer/songwriter, and former menial job maestro, spoke about what the award means to him; how hard it is to fake good writing; and what he's working on now (note: it's not a job packing pharmaceuticals).

Check out our full interview in the May edition of MagaScene. If you haven't signed up yet for AMPA's monthly e-newsletter full of Alberta magazine news, jobs and people, do so at

More info on Kris Demeanor:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Need a break from the City?

If the hustle and bustle of the City is clogging your thoughts, creative flow and general well being, then perhaps it's a good time to flee for a short while to The Banff Centre. What better way to start off the summer then to spend it in the mountains hanging with other talented groups and individuals...There are numerous residency opportunities for Writers of all kinds with some important deadlines coming up. Be sure to check it out!

The Limitless Sky Conference May 21-24

The Writers Guild of Alberta partner with The Writers' Union of Canada to present The Limitless Sky Conference, a first-of-its-kind conference held in Calgary. How can Small Presses Survive and Thrive in the new Precarious Publishing Economy? Copyrights and Wrongs: Protecting Turf, Relax on April 30: Tax Tips for the Working Artist - gain confidence and answers from these great workshops with industry professionals and inspiring individuals! For more information see the Conference Brochure. It's fast approaching so be sure to register now!

As part of the Conference, don't miss the Alberta Literary Awards! The shortlist has been announced and proves that Alberta is home to many amazingly talented writers. Our member magazines continue to soar with inclusion of nominated writers including Andrea Beca (Edmonton) who received nomination for her short story "The Disappearing Act" in FreeFall, honourable mention for Short Story went to Betty Jane Hegerat (Calgary) for "Pockets" in Alberta Views. As well, Alberta Views is sponsoring the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. The winners will be announced on Saturday, May 23rd during the Awards Gala at Hotel Arts, Calgary (119 - 12th Ave).

See you there!

-stef wong

Friday, May 1, 2009

Web & Print: Profit from Two Platforms, re-cap

Transcontinental Printing recently presented its Smart Seminar Series--sessions featuring magazine experts with the goal to nurture the industry that they do business in.

On April 30th, speaker Martin White presented at the Calgary Italian Club. White specializes in best practices for integrating print and web. He has consulted for major Canadian media organizations including Rogers Media, Harco Publishing and Kontent Media. He has held management positions in publications ranging from Time Canada and Toronto Life to Wedding Bells and Vantage magazine.

As the world of web grows, think: social networking, user-generated content, multi-media, etc., it can admittedly get a bit overwhelming. In the past, while print and web were seen as competing mediums, White says that view has now changed. The two are more like friends, successfully working off of one another’s strengths.

While the death of print is bemoaned in headlines, White quoted famed communications theorist Marshall McLuhan to illustrate that no medium has ever completely replaced its predecessor.

By this blogger’s estimation, the web is to magazine publishers as water is to humans, that is—good and necessary.

Throughout White’s two-hour presentation, he urged attendees (made up of Alberta magazine publishers, designers, and sales people) to recall their personal experiences with websites—were they good or bad? Why? Each magazine needs to gauge what experience its website will provide to a surfer. The first step is to go through every single page and click on every link to know the website inside out. Then the following should be asked: What works? What doesn’t?

Everyone goes online to do one of three things, explains White—to learn, to do, or to buy. It follows then, that a magazine’s website should do one of those three things. The most important question to ask before any website design plans are made is: what is the magazine’s business objective? Does the magazine truly understand its readers?

Is your website meant to promote awareness of the magazine? Is it to be an expert resource for readers? Is it to build community? Surely these may overlap, but it is important to be clear what takes priority. At the end of the day, a magazine needs to know its readers and what satisfies their needs.

In fact, the customer/reader/consumer is the starting basis for any effective website. Planners must ask: How will the website impact readers? How will readers interact with it? The strength of any business-based relationships lie with the customers.

And those same customers are driving huge ad revenues. In 2007, the online realm was worth $1.25 billion in ad revenues. The breakdown is as follows:

Email: 1%

Classifieds: 25%

Display: 35% (banner ads, etc.)

Search: 38%

Video: 1%

The potential for revenue from the web grows exponentially each year. White mentioned Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue as an example. Four years ago, the issue saw 4% in revenue from sources other than print advertising. This year, the swimsuit issue saw that value increase to 40%.

He emphasized again the importance of knowing your own website. What are the three most popular pages? Any webmaster, publisher, or designer absolutely NEEDS to know this. What pages have a high bounce-rate (people who pop in and out in under eight seconds)? If a page has a higher than 50% bounce rate, then it has no traction and drastic changes need to be made.

For regional publishers to tap into national advertisers, it’s important to know what those national advertisers are looking for. The difference is in perspective—what can you do to create demand for your product?

He proposes a revenue checklist—these are all the things a magazine can do to generate revenue online.

It is a bit overwhelming, like going to a restaurant with a 60-page menu. It makes the most sense to start with what you need. Essentially, these are all ways to have a website generate more income.

- Contests

- Database

- Sponsorships

- Newsletters

- Micro-sites

- Licensing

- Communities

- Direct Response

- Digital Editions

White provided specific samples of each of the points on his checklist—it’s too comprehensive to detail each of those here. Essentially, free programs exist to do almost anything you might want to do online. White suggests first checking YouTube for how-to videos.

It’s about marrying print and web so that readers garner additional value and then some. It’s about extending your brand and finding multiple, endless ways to communicate with readers. It's about knowing your metrics. And, in this current economy, let’s face it: it’s about bottom line and generating additional revenue streams.

So, what are you waiting for?

Additional resources:

Digital editions:

Websites of Alberta magazines: