Submitted by: Carmen Milenkovic, SCC Executive Director
 Carmen Milenkovic, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Craft Council; 
Photo by Ljubisa Spasic
There’s a certain irony regarding my joining the Saskatchewan Craft Council as the Executive Director. I used to be part of the adjudication process, back in the days of PCOs and SaskCulture. I, along with other colleagues, would diligently read the contents of the 4” binder outlining the programs and hopes and dreams for the organization. And now, here I am, in the Executive Director chair, trying to figure it all out.

Daniel J Kirk works on She Dreams of Color at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Daniel J Kirk, Asherah Cinnamon, Katie Green)
Photo by Ian Preston

I must say that when I agreed to a July 2nd start date I thought that meant I would have the summer to immerse myself – at a somewhat leisurely pace – in the nuts and bolts of the organization. I have been immersed, but forget the leisurely pace. In six short weeks, I’ve:
  • Wandered among the booths at Waterfront;
  • Visited the exhibit, Art of the Book, numerous times;
  • Observed an exhibition change over;
  • Witnessed the erection of A Show About Nothing (and continue to visit it daily);
  • Attended a very busy and fun opening reception where I met EMMA artists, members and even some friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time;
  • Had over twenty meetings with stakeholders and supporters;
  • Was apprised of the process of the Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival and the Toronto Gift Show;
  • Met with the SCC Board of Directors;
  • Wandered through the Boutique on numerous occasions;
  • Attended the auction on the final day of the WoodTurners Symposium;
  • Submitted a grant application (on my first day if you can imagine – got the results – it was successful!);
  • Started to learn a new accounting program and get a handle on the financials;
  • Became updated on the direction and strategic initiatives of the Canadian Craft Federation;
  • Had numerous conversations with members and supporters of the SCC; and
  • Tried my hand at blogging.

The highlight to date was my deep water dive into the EMMA International Collaboration 2014. I visited for a couple of days – wandered around the site at Ness Creek, watched the pieces take shape, listened to the interaction between artists; I took advantage of their generosity to answer my questions and give me insight into their process and what EMMA meant to them. I come from the film world, which is always collaborative, and wandering around EMMA reminded me of that spirit, that industriousness and the need to troubleshoot and come up with new ideas when the planned ones don’t work and you’re going to camera in five. I loved that rush, and that building of community, which in real time can be short, but in “feelings” time is forever.

    June Jacobs works on Buoh Doctor at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Te Rangitu Netana, Nadine Jaggi, Michel Boutin, June Jacobs, John Wirth, Katie Green, Cassie Rosteski & Kjelti Anderson); Photo by Ian Preston

The experience was capped by the EMMA Auction. On a hot sultry night in August – probably our hottest day of the summer – we witnessed the transformation from work site to gallery exhibit. It was glorious. Thanks to all who attended and loved the excitement of the purchase. The heat and tight fit couldn’t supplant our euphoria.

   Control Flabula in Wood by Tod Emel at EMMA International Collaboration 2014
Photo by Ian Preston

It makes me wonder what I’ll be able to say after my first year.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council is a treasure, worth savouring, protecting and enriching. 
2015 is a big year for us. We’ll celebrate our 40th Anniversary and are part of a national celebration, Craft Year 2015. At the heart of it all is the impulse that drives the creation of art. It’s beating loudly at the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
Thanks for welcoming me into the thicket. I’m looking forward to finding my way.