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Centre St-Ambroise's Dave Cool: Kings of beer, patrons of arts

Kings of beer, patrons of arts

Cool: His work at McAuslan is its own reward

McAuslan's Dave Cool has Montreal's cultural communities meeting over beer

Dave Cool has, if anything, the name for the job, easily one of the coolest gigs in town, the rare one wherein the rewards are often commensurate to the responsibility. And then, of course, there’s all the beer, easily some of the best this province has to offer.

Cool is the program director at the Centre St-Ambroise, a cultural space founded by McAuslan Brewery and located within a cozy historical building at their Lachine Canal location in St-Henri. It’s a position he earned on the basis of his… documentary film skills?

"Peter McAuslan, the founder and president of the brewery, had seen my movie What Is Indie? way back when," says Cool, "and had related to it in terms of indie music artists going up against major labels since he was a micro-brewer going up against the major breweries. So when they decided to turn the old building into a cultural centre, he thought of me to get it going."

Cool’s primary responsibility is to make sure the centre is busy with a variety of cultural events. "Two or three times a week we do music shows, and in order to give back to the arts community, every musician that performs there has a chance to access $5,000 in bursaries that we give away every year. We also do film screenings, visual arts, vernissages and workshops for artists and filmmakers."

He has another official hat he wears at McAuslan, that of director of sponsorships, i.e., he holds the keys to the free beer. "It’s a lot of fun for an arts guy like me because most of the sponsorships that McAuslan does are in the arts and cultural sector. So our main sponsorships would be the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, Pop Montreal, the World Film Festival, the Fantasia film festival and so on…

"These are some of the best in the city so it’s a nice portfolio to manage and it’s fun because I get to work with a lot of people I’ve known for years in those scenes."

Cool acknowledges that these kinds of sponsorships are critical to the survival of many of these festivals. It’s important work.

"It really is," Cool concurs. "People think, ‘Oh, it’s just free beer,’ but you can turn some free beer into quite a bit of money for your event or your festival. And a lot of these festivals, if they didn’t have our support, might not survive."

Seriously, how much do you love your job?

"I get to combine music and film and world-quality beer," he laughs. "I’m not going to lie – it’s a lot of fun."

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  • by Eric Mallette - November 18, 2010, 9:32 am

    Anyone that knows Dave, can attest to his class and great personality.
    Just an all around nice guy that works his butt off in everything he does, so he deserves all the “fun” he gets!
    Oh and please Buy “What is Indie?”
    Great film!

  • by David St Pierre - November 18, 2010, 1:31 pm

    Ok, if this isn’t a dream gig, I don’t know what is! After all, his job entails being in the midst of micro-brewed ale and sublime music and film pretty much all day and night long. ‘Course it helps when your boss is a kindred spirit – someone who’s “fought the man” as opposed to being one and, in that fateful kinship was borne the Centre St-Ambroise and reborn, in the process, as “kings of beer, patrons of arts”, Peter McAuslan and his right hand man/program director – Dave Cool. Talk about coming full circle. Cool went from being an indie documentary filmmaker plodding in the underground arts scene to being a purveyor, supporter and ultimately beer-fuelling/funding catalyst for all things indie and artistic. It doesn’t get more karmically rewarding than that!

  • by Dave Cool - November 19, 2010, 10:08 am

    First of all, thank you David and Eric for the kind words, I really appreciate it! Didn’t expect to see that when I came to read the article online.

    I just wanted to give a shout-out to Ian Graham, the photographer who took the picture used for the article. Ian was the cameraman for “What is INDIE?” and is one of the most talented freelance cameramen around.

    Also, one part of the story that didn’t make it in was that it was local visual artist Scott MacLeod who originally proposed the idea of a cultural centre at the brewery, and actually made the initial introductions to all involved. So he was instrumental in the Centre St-Ambroise being created.



    Dave Cool
    “What is INDIE? A Look into the World of Independent Musicians”

    Twitter: @dave_cool

  • by Lisa Lefebvre - November 22, 2010, 1:49 pm

    Yeah, I have to hand it to Dave Cool. Being the down-to-earth guy with his ear to the ground, he definitely has a facility with booking acts, films screenings and a myriad of other cultural events. Seeing Dave Martel and Rob Szabo way back remains one of my most cherished music memories. After all, it doesn’t get more intimate than the cozy confines of the center what with it’s turn of the century old world charm. Couple that with sublime singer songwriter showmanship and songcraft and the city’s (world’s?) greatest beer and you have a truly Cool Combination! Thanks a bunch Dave!!!

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