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Impact In The Arts

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I can think of so many individual stories of people who came to Fort McMurray on one career trajectory and found themselves moving in a completely different and surprising direction.  I’m a good example of this anomaly;  I came north 20 years ago as the natural next step in my broadcasting career; years later I’m working full-time in the social profit sector and growing a painting career in my off hours.  Diana Moser is another fine example.  She shared her career deviation story during an IMPACT interview on December 20th.

Moser finished her training at the University of Toronto in Museum Studies, and found a job way out west in Fort McMurray at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre.  This was about five and a half years ago.  She has always had an interest in history, particularly European and Canadian history, and the way that objects help connect and inform us about the events of the past.

However, in her youth, she put a lot of time and passion into her music.  Diana played flute and piccolo in a variety of different marching bands in Georgia - where she lived for over 6 years - and Hamilton. 

After a couple of years of living in Fort McMurray, she auditioned for the Keyano Theatre Company production of Les Miserables and found herself connecting with the community in a much deeper way.

“I remember feeling like I belonged, again,” she said.  “This is what it feels like to be a part of this community.  It combined all kinds of things that were important to me: being around people, creating something together, being artistic, being musical, and being able to perform.”

Starring roles in Cabaret and A Few Good Men followed, as did a role in Run For Your Wife, which closed just three days before the evacuation of Fort McMurray.

Connection to the creative community, and a desire to integrate the arts into her professional life, led to an opportunity with Arts Council Wood Buffalo. She moved into her new role as Interim Executive Director earlier this fall. Moser looked back on 2016 and acknowledged how much progress has been made in both championing the sector and inspiring a better understanding, internally and externally, about the vibrancy and importance of the arts in Wood Buffalo.

“I think this year has been spectacular in the relationships we have been able to build,” she said.  “The programs we’ve been able to do, the partnerships, the collaborations across sectors, across organizations; it’s been really fantastic. Seeing people recognize the Arts Council but also recognize the arts has been really great.”

As the community continues to recover from the fire, the arts community seems poised to continue growing and exploring in 2017.

“People are trying to express themselves in many different ways through different types of artistic disciplines that they have never tried before,” said Moser.  “Also, established artists are finding their own explorations shifting.”

The role of being an arts champion through her work with Arts Council Wood Buffalo is one that Diana cherishes.

“I get to help them do their work; I get to help them express; I get to help them connect and share. We help create the best community in which they can do their art and share their art.”


Diana and the rest of the Arts Council Wood Buffalo team, Liana Wheeldon and Christina Beckman, can be found out and about in the community and at their offices in The Redpoll Centre at Shell Place.  Check out their website at


IMPACT is a weekly radio show heard on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 on KAOS 91.1.  It is a collaboration with The United Way of Fort McMurray and FuseSocial.


Photo by Cheryl Tang


Russell is a 19 year resident of Wood Buffalo, a community builder, facilitator, social media practitioner, actor, director and artist. He began his Middle Age Bulge blog as a way of capturing his journey to wellness. It has morphed into a daily journal about all aspects of life in the north. Russell works with The United Way of Fort McMurray and co-owns Birdsong Connections with his wife Heather.