The new executive director for the Blenders Music concert series and the Windscape Kite Festival in Swift Current was intrigued as soon as he saw the job posting.
Terry Bachtis has been in the role since the start of January, and he feels at home in the heart of the prairies.
“I lived on the east coast. I lived in Ontario, then I moved to the west side, and now I’m in the heart of Canada,” he said. “So I’ve been from the one end to the other and now I think that I’m home, right in the heart of Canada.”
The role of executive director at Cultural Festivals in Swift Current became vacant towards the end of last year, and he was immediately interested when he saw the job posting.
“I think Blenders applied for me,” he said. “It was a combination of the professional presenting program and the Windscape Kite Festival. When I’ve seen the posting it sparked my interest. I actually didn’t apply via internet. I called the acting executive director and we coincidently had the same travel plans and ended up in Calgary during the same timeframe. So we met over lunch in Calgary, me coming from Vancouver and her from Swift Current.”
He grew up in Midland, a town on Georgian Bay in central Ontario, and he has already experienced the same hospitality of a smaller community in Swift Current.
“Swift Current is very supportive,” he said. “Everybody goes out of their way and I can tell it’s not a façade, because I meet everyday people and everyone is just so friendly and courteous and helpful. Being born in a small town I remember that feeling and it’s nice to have that feeling again.”
His transition into his new position has been made easier by the support that he has received from various people, including former executive director Shann Gowan.
“I’m trying to learn and people are helping me along the way,” Bachtis said. “The former director has not only been supportive, but giving her time and energy, even though she’s not in a paid position. So it’s been great to have the support not only from the former director, the current family of staff that Blenders and Windscape hold, and just everyday people that have been affiliated for years.”
Any new job will have various surprises, but a noticeable one for him has been the extent of community support and involvement with the hosting of the Blenders concerts.
“I didn’t really know how much community involvement it really took to present a show,” he said. “You have volunteers running the bar. You have volunteers running our front of house. You have volunteers basically doing a lot of the work, where in past positions I had paid staff and I guess that I took that for granted, because it was such a luxury at the time. These volunteers are going out of their way, out of the goodness of their heart.”
This amount of volunteer involvement is something he feels very happy about, because it shows the level of support in the community for these events.
“They’re doing it because they love the arts,” he said. “They’re doing it because they want to grow arts and culture in the community.”
He has been learning a lot about his position and also meeting many people that are involved with Blenders and Windscape. He is also looking forward to become familiar with all the intricacies of organizing and hosting a kite festival.
“It’s very time-consuming, trying to meet everybody that’s involved,” he said. “There are so many people involved. That brings its own challenges, and then just learning about this Windscape marquee kite festival. That’s not just a big festival for the city but it’s a marquee event for the province.”
Bachtis came to Swift Current with a lot of relevant experience in different positions. He felt his experience is very suitable to the varied tasks involved with his role as executive director at Cultural Festivals, which include the Blenders Music concert series, the Long Day's Night music festival, and the Windscape Kite Festival.
“I always had a hybrid of professional presenting in a theatre and being an event producer,” he said. “So I’m very familiar with doing outdoor festivals and concerts. It’s the first kite festival I’m ever going to do, but the skills are transferable there and it’s a learning curve.”
He studies at Durham College in Ontario, where he completed a diploma program in entertainment business management. He worked for nearly 10 years at the City of Brampton, where he was responsible for programming at the Rose Theatre. He was also the supervisor of events in the city, which included outdoor festivals and concerts.
He worked for a year as an event coordinator at Bell Media and he lived in Vancouver for two years, where he was the event manager and programmer for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
“This is a new challenge and a new experience for me,” he said about his new role in Swift Current. “I can have all the qualifications in the world, but it’s always learning and learning the people and understanding the community and the hands-on stuff. … Of course, it’s going to be a learning curve, but I’m coming in with an open mind and very flexible and willing to give the community what they’re expecting.”