It's her can-do attitude to anything artistic. With everything that she's done, she's boosted confidence and boosted people's willingness to step forward and take roles they never saw themselves in before. It's been a real morale boost for the community.
—George Fontaine, Mayor of Flin Flon
Flin Flon may be celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend, including performances by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but when it comes to the arts Crystal Kolt is the jewel who shines the brightest in that northern community.
Flin Flon has always had a rich artistic environment, including a Glee
Club that thrived four decades ago. What was needed was some leadership
to bring the musical activity back to life.
Enter Crystal Kolt. On any given day you might find her organizing a house concert or helping members of the Flin Flon Community Choir wrap their heads around the intricacies of Mahler's Second Symphony or getting the whole community involved in the latest festival she's concocted.
Kolt's friend and colleague Linda Allen says she has had a tremendous impact on the community. Her energy is astonishing and her enthusiasm is catchy.
"She's certainly put us on the map," says Allen. "She has taken us beyond. She is a huge ambassador for the north -- it's not just Flin Flon,
it's all the north -- and for the arts in general. She's brought the
Crystal Kolt (Julian Kolt)
As Cultural Coordinator of the Flin Flon Arts Council
, Kolt works tirelessly to encourage arts activity in the north. Under the FFAC's purview you'll find a pottery club, the Ham Sandwich Theatre, a quilter's guild, art club, gallery and the Flin Flon Community Choir
which she founded with her husband, Mark Kolt.
Some of the choir's remarkable achievements include a trip to perform in Carnegie Hall in New York CIty in 2002, performances with the Winnipeg and Saskatoon symphonies, and premieres of two musicals, Bombertown
and Three Brides for Kasos
, both composed by Mark Kolt.
It's her fearless attitude that leads the ensemble to such successes.
"I love adventure!" she exclaims. She recalls that their recent experience preparing for Mahler's 2nd with
the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra was "scary."
"You wonder if you can rate," she reveals. In the end "the singers were profoundly moved by the experience.It's gratifying to know we can fit in to something
One of Kolt's biggest supporters is Flin Flon Mayor George Fontaine.
"She's gained the confidence of the community in such a way that no one
could ever imagine," he enthuses.
"It's her can-do attitude to anything artistic. With everything that she's done, she's
boosted confidence and boosted people's willingness to step forward and take
roles they never saw themselves in before. It doesn't matter what she
proposes. It's been a real morale boost for the community."
Aside from getting the community active in the arts, Kolt also believes it's important to make connections with and expose locals to artists working at a professional level.
Her dream of bringing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to the north is finally coming to fruition. After a 40-year absence, they perform in The Pas on May 25, in Flin Flon on May 26 and in Thompson on May 27.
In her quest to bring the dancers north, she insisted on getting the "A list" of dancers.
"I completely feel that excellence breeds excellence," Kolt insists. "You want to expose people to an art form that they have no concept of. If you can see this art form at it's very, very best, you can form an opinion as to whether it's something you enjoy.
"When you allow people to really experience excellence, it's part of them now and they want it. They crave it. And it becomes part of who they are. You can now try to understand what excellence can be in your life."
On May 26 and 27, Flin Flon is celebrating Royal Weekend, marking the Queen's
Diamond Jubilee. The weekend features a whole slate of activities. Aside from the performance by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Saturday's events will include a smudging ceremony, a parade, performances by hoop dancers, drummers, soprano Maria Luz Alvarez and more. Among the dignitaries will be Premier Greg Selinger and Ed and Lily Schreyer.
As well, a new art work made of caribou hair by First Nations artist Theresa Wride has been unveiled. It will move to the Manitoba Legislature soon before making its way across the pond as a gift to the queen.
"People have a lot of faith in Crystal," says Mayor Fontaine. "She has great
dreams of making this place shine. She'd love to see this as the artistic
capital of north-central Canada and I'd sure love to see it happen."