Event Logistics class host latest Collage Party exhibition

An experiential social art and music gathering supported by the Bass Coast Festival

Participants individually created collage art pieces in a communal atmosphere to be displayed as a mural when completed. Artist Paul Butler has been helping host Collage Parties for over 20 years. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

As part of the IDays Social, TRU’s Tourism Management Event Logistics (EVNT 3800) class, with support from the Bass Coast Music and Art Festival, held the latest Collage Party exhibition last Thursday featuring electronic artists Slynk and Fort Knox Five. Participants would individually create collage art pieces in a communal atmosphere that would be displayed as a mural when completed. Billy Collins, the instructor of the course, used this opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in organizing a music event.

“This is the major project of a course I teach called EVNT 3800, Event Logistics, in the tourism management program and it’s the penultimate course of the event management stream within tourism management,” he said. “It’s completely hands-on, real-time, real deliverables, there are almost zero lectures, it’s completely collaborative teamwork.”

The Bass Coast Festival and Tourism Management program share a symbiotic relationship as many of the program’s graduates proceed to become valuable employees for them. Despite not explicitly being partners of the event, they are avid supporters of the students and the event management department. The Collage Party according to Collins is part of Bass Coast’s winter promotional tour in anticipation for their festival in July.

“Bass Coast have been long supporters of ours, the event management program in Tourism Management; I met the women who run the festival and we collaborated on a few things, I invited them on campus last year to do an educational presentation and they have recruited our students as volunteers and staff,” Collins said. “My hope is that more of my students from TRU can work for these festivals across the province.”

Paul Butler, the Winnipeg-based contemporary artist behind the premise of the event, came up with the collage inspiration during his time studying drawing at the Alberta College of Art (now known as the Alberta College of Art and Design). Since childhood, Butler would make collages as a form of therapy and would decorate his bedroom with his artwork. Through social gatherings with peers, the term ‘Collage Party’ arose. 

“I’ve done this project for over 20 years now, I was doing it and then people started referring to it as the Collage Party,” he said. “I graduated from the Alberta College of Art in 1997 and went back to Winnipeg, I did a Collage Party and this curator came and saw it and he ended up putting me in a show about drawing called ‘Draw, Stranger’ and he thought that my cutting of paper was like drawing.”

Through past connections, Butler has managed to exhibit at venues like the Arts Gallery of Ontario, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and La Maison Rouge in Paris, among many other art galleries internationally.

“Through word of mouth, I got invited to Goldsmiths College in London and that was the start of it,” he said. “From that, I got invited to Norway to do one and it sort of took off.”

Collins and Butler had met around 30 years ago when studying at the University of Manitoba. Collins says the collage idea has resonated with him ever since.

“I’ve known Paul since the late 1980s, [we met] at the University of Manitoba where he was a fine arts student and I worked for the Students’ Union,” he said. “We have friends in the arts community in Winnipeg and I think I was at his very first Collage Party; the idea has always stuck with me and so when I got back into teaching on a campus I thought, I’ve got to hold a Collage Party.”

Given Kamloops’ last-minute buyer behaviour, the majority of the event’s tickets were sold on the last two days. Collins was verging on pulling the pin on the event. 

“Kamloops is a very last-minute town; if you do an event in this town you’ll know that no one buys a ticket until the last day and it’s completely stressful,” he said. “We had sold 62 tickets on Monday night, we sold 125 yesterday (Wednesday) and 125 today (Thursday); I was ready to pull the pin.”