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."