Meet Grow­ing Room’s first fes­ti­val di­rec­tor, Arielle Spence

Room Magazine - - CONTENTS - —Jes­sica Johns

Meet Arielle Spence, a queer, non­bi­nary as­pir­ing writer and arts ad­min­is­tra­tor orig­i­nally from Cold­stream, B.C. (un­ceded Okana­gan Ter­ri­tory). In 2017, they were the fes­ti­val di­rec­tor of Grow­ing Room, Room’s in­au­gu­ral fem­i­nist lit­er­ary fes­ti­val.

You’ve worked in var­i­ous roles at lit­er­ary events, in­clud­ing be­ing the fes­ti­val di­rec­tor of the 2017 Grow­ing Room Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val. What pulls you to­ward roles ex­ist­ing at the in­ter­sec­tion of art and com­mu­nity? As the re­searcher Brené Brown says, “[hu­mans] are hard­wired to con­nect with oth­ers.” I truly be­lieve that. Since I was lit­tle, I’ve been en­deav­our­ing to fa­cil­i­tate con­nec­tions through art. Writ­ing and art mean so much to me, and it is such a priv­i­lege to help bring peo­ple to­gether by high­light­ing the works of tal­ented cre­ators.

What do you think are im­por­tant qual­i­ties for event or­ga­niz­ers and co­or­di­na­tors? I’ve learned that event or­ga­niz­ers need flex­i­bil­ity and an open heart. I am a Type A per­son­al­ity, so be­ing hyper-or­ga­nized and dead­line driven come nat­u­rally. How­ever, this will only take you so far. Be­com­ing an ef­fec­tive lis­tener, trust­ing oth­ers, and ac­cept­ing crit­i­cism have been dif­fi­cult les­sons to learn, but I think they’re key to pre­sent­ing events that are well run and ful­fill the needs of a com­mu­nity.

What are your favourite works with bi­sex­ual and/or gen­derqueer char­ac­ters? Be­cause there is a scarcity of bi and/or gen­derqueer char­ac­ters in most me­dia, I tend to imagine most char­ac­ters as bi. How­ever, in the past year, I re­ally en­joyed Shadow Scale by Rachel Hart­man and the an­i­mated se­ries Leg­end of Korra, and I cheered out loud when it was re­vealed that Rosa Diaz was bi on Brook­lyn Nine-Nine. I’m ex­cited to read Mask of Shad­ows, a YA fan­tasy novel by Lin­sey Miller, which fea­tures a bi­sex­ual, gen­der fluid pro­tag­o­nist. I fully ex­pect to cry with joy the en­tire time I read it.

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