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Heather Blakemore

2008 Staff achievement awards: Heather Blakemore, artistic achievement

February 19, 2009

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There are three sentiments that jump out from the thick stack of letters nominating SFU’s 2009 staff achievement award winner for artistic achievement, Heather Blakemore.

The first is a consensus that she regularly goes well beyond the call of duty, both in her job as SFU’s theatre manager and as a colleague to her fellow SFU Contemporary Arts employees.

"Heather finds, or rather, makes time—on evenings and weekends if necessary—to conceive original art to promote productions…" writes one admirer. She "worked around the clock" to save a production from certain disaster recalls another. She "is personally responsible for the level of culture SFU enjoys," confirms yet another.

Blakemore has been involved with SFU’s performing arts community for more than 30 years. She arrived in the mid-’70s, "during the baby steps of the program, as an English student," she recalls, and as a theatrical Jill-of-all-trades.

After graduation, she came back as a freelance designer in the ’80s. And she returned as a full-time staffer in 1990. But the truth is, she never left. The theatre is part of her DNA.

"What can I say," she sighs. "I love the people and I love my job."

That’s good because most of the close to 100 events per year that SFU Contemporary Arts performs would quite simply not happen without her. She plans programming, scouts for promising productions in the community, manages staff, books studio time and runs the box office. She even oversees security.

She also designs the advertisements and promotional material for almost every production. That’s the second thing everyone mentions about her. Blakemore’s posters promoting SFU productions are works of art. Her theatrical postcards are exquisite, like miniature paintings. Her work creating collages "can hold its own anywhere," writes one nominator.

Blakemore is justifiably proud of her years on Burnaby Mountain and her role in nourishing the level of professionalism and international acclaim SFU Contemporary Arts now enjoys.

Nevertheless, she can hardly wait until the program moves into its new digs, anchoring the Woodward’s redevelopment project in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

"It’s a well-deserved move," she says, "and it’s long overdue." Coincidentally, that’s the third thing everyone says about Blakemore and her staff achievement award.

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Nazmin Bhatia Gordon

Dear Heather,

Congratulations on the staff achievement award! The recognition is well deserved. After more than 10 years I often think of you and SFU Theatre. I really enjoyed my job as usher and later front of house manager and you were a big part of it.

All the best,

Nazmin

Brooklyn NY

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