ArtsUNITE’s Essential Worker of the Month is a monthly feature that recognizes essential staff who keep cultural hubs safe while they are closed during these uncertain times. These individuals are working diligently behind the scenes navigating the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, all while staying safe and balancing time for their personal life. This month we are speaking with Adam Turgeon, Building Operator at Artscape Youngplace and Artscape Sandbox.
What do you like most about your role?
It has been really nice to be a presence at the building for the few people who have continued to come into the space, letting them know that we’re still here keeping the building safe and clean and at least slightly animated during the shut-down.
What is it like being a Building Operator during this time?
Being a building operator during this time is very solitary. Although Artscape Youngplace isn’t completely empty most days, you still only see a few masked others passing by on the other side of the glass office door.
What’s been an update that has improved your day-to-day?
I’ve been coming in to the building and using public transit during this time, so the gradual updates and loosening of lockdown measures have not really been improvements for me, instead increasing the potential for exposure as the streets and buses get busier. Of course I’m looking forward to seeing friends and being social without the use of a webcam, I just hope we’re not moving too quickly and that people can stay responsible.
Do you have any examples of the resiliency of your community during this time?
Quite a few of the tenants and owners at AYP have been able to use their spaces in the building almost as normal during the pandemic. In some cases this has led to new collaborations between artists who have connected in the quiet hallways of the AYP ghost town, collaborations that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
What are the highs and lows of keeping the lights on during these strange times?
Highs have been being able to come into work and maintain a somewhat normal routine during this trying time and the always excellent teamwork with the other building operators. Lows have been the lack of life in the building and the irony of having all the time and space in the world to finish up various pet projects, but just sitting on them instead out of budget restraint.
When you are not keeping Artscape Youngplace and Artscape Sandbox safe, what do you like to do in your personal time that helps you get through these uncertain times?
I love board games, which are not generally very pandemic friendly, but some friends and I have been able to play our favourite card game using elaborate web-cam rigs and a Zoom room. Other than that lots of vegging out and helping the sourdough starter army slowly take over the world.
Any other advice to essential workers?
Keep yourself safe and don’t be afraid to say “No”.