Moving on... a farewell note from Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Cory
Posted on May 5th, 2022
by Lindsay Ann Cory

Being part of Nocturne is a huge part of who I am. It lives deep, entangled even, with nearly every relationship I have in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), it’s an incredible source of pride. So it’s with a lot of feelings that I share some big news with you. After five years of being the Executive Director of the Nocturne: Art at Night Society, and another four and a half years before that on the board of directors, I am leaving the organization later this month to take on the Community Developer, Public Art position within HRM. Making this decision has been bittersweet, filled with excitement for the future of Nocturne and major FOMO too, but I am grateful for my time with this organization. It has shaped me, my ethos and experience of this city and community in tremendous ways.

From left to right: Nicole Doiron, Lindsay Cory, Amy Lorencz, Dary Jessome at Magnetic North on The Commons in 2014

When I first joined the board of Nocturne in 2013, I was fairly new to this city and was looking for ways to engage with the interdependent and resilient art community of Kjipuktuk (Halifax). I attended my first board meeting at the old Hub co-working space on Barrington Street. We crammed into a small board room (not sure you could even call it a board room) to discuss plans for the upcoming festival and review our most recent one, our first with a curator and theme. Myself, Dary Jessome, Wynne VanThielen, Amy Lorencz and Yalitsa Riden joined current board members Kim Farmer, Lorraine Plourde, Nicole Doiron and Sam Parent. They were succeeding founding board members and volunteers Rose Zack, Laura Carmicheal and also Jamie MacLellan (whose massive sneakers at HRM I’m about to fill) and a host of others who championed the organization from the early days.

It felt like a very pivotal moment to join a well-structured and experienced team—I was in awe. Everyone had so much to contribute. I was inspired (and still am) by the work ethic of these volunteers. Everyone did their job with such dedication and pride, infused by the original goals of the festival. I joined as “Director at Large,” which was as undefined a role as they come, but I quickly found my place contributing to events and programming and sponsorship in any way I could.

2019 Nocturne Board of Directors with curator Tori Fleming

As the years progressed and the team ebbed and flowed, as boards often do, I learned from new perspectives and experiences on how to shape the organization into what it is today. Those team members became peers and those peers have been a supportive mechanism and creative inspiration for me both personally and professionally ever since. I shifted roles from Director at Large to Programming Director where I worked more closely with artists, to Vice-Chair and, eventually, to Chair where I focused on building funding relationships and programming models to grow beyond the October festival that now includes artist talks, workshops, advocacy, mentorship and more.

When Nocturne turned 10 years young in 2017, I became its first Executive Director. I have been the leader of an arts organization with a board of directors that deeply believes in the work we do together, committed to using our platform to build connections in the arts. It was (and still is) a dream job. After five incredible years, even through difficult times, it has continued to deliver opportunities that center artists, kindle lasting relationships, and amplify this place and the creative people who live and work here every single day. It’s been a total thrill.

2016 Nocturne Board of Directors and Programming Committee members with curator Michael McCormack

Thriving behind the scenes as the person who rejoiced in the creative endeavors of others, I watched a ferris wheel unveil itself on Citadel Hill at 5am, brought a giant Pong game to the Sands At Salter, witnessed a BIPOC powered party bus circle the public gardens, spoke with a giant francophone puppet scaling the Dartmouth waterfront, participated in a comedic bicycle race to nowhere, laughed at a factory, attended an art exhibition for dogs, had my face on a fake Coast cover, knocked at the door of a dim sum party that never was, sang in an online whale-song workshop and so many other fantastical ideas that I got to be privy to before they were experienced by everyone. Thanks to all the brilliant supporters and collaborators, I know of every projector, generator, 10x10 tent, power hookup and alleyway or parking garage with perfect lighting. Infusing this city with art in every corner and finding more ways to fund artists to imagine and will ideas into fruition has been the thing that kept me going year after year. I worked in collaboration with so many artists and groups to acknowledge difficult but important histories and create memories to places that long last the ephemerality of the festival.

Lindsay and curator Rose Zack at The Ferris Wheel by anna sprague in 2015

I aimed to inspire connection, uplift and prioritize the role of artists as leaders and record keepers, to hold space for diverse and under-represented voices in every room I am in and learn how to do that better each day. Through this work I consider this place and Nocturne’s soft interventions into it as an active collaboration and opportunity to creatively engage with the lands and waters cared for since time immemorial by L’nu (the Mi’kmaq) and greatly impacted and indebted to the contributions of the African Nova Scotian community.

Working with and learning from artists, curators, educators, wisdom holders, community leaders, cultural organizers, administrators, businesses, volunteers, government liaisons, partners, other festivals, attendees and everyone in between has informed my own mandate as a director to remain responsive and open. That mandate was key to my perseverance over the last two years where unprecedented change, upheaval, challenge, shifts and pivots impacted the work each and every day. But this mandate will remain a constant.

From left to right: I'thandi Munro, Drew Ritchie, curator Liliona Quarmyne, Yeha Ahn, Lindsay Cory, Alex Cherry, Jenna Harvie at kick off party in 2021

For nearly 10 years Nocturne has been a steady pulse in my life. It wasn’t always a job (and honestly never really felt like one even when it was) and despite change and challenge it was my steadfast calling card, my Rolodex, my wayfinder, my calendar, the ultimate connector, my built-in support system. Using art and the platform I have been so grateful to lead as a way to have difficult yet meaningful conversations and create points of entry and access for folks has been deeply impactful both to this city but also to me personally. Even though I am heading off to take on my next big gig, I know Nocturne is in the best place I could have left it—in flux yet strongly positioned as a platform for creation with fewer barriers than there was before, poised for new ideas and directions and ready for deeper impacts.

A call for a new Executive Director will go live tomorrow. I hope you will apply. There are lots of other ways to be involved with Nocturne to learn more and get involved with the city and the artists that make it run, ask me about it. My last day is officially May 13 but I’m never far away. Feel free to swing by Stillwell Freehouse (in the back room) on Tuesday May 10 after 7pm if you want to say hi/bye! — Lindsay Cory

Lindsay Cory taking in the work of Mike MacDonald curated by Lindsay Dobbin in 2020