When David Shepherd was elected MLA for Edmonton-Centre, I was excited we’d have someone in office who not only supported the arts but was an artist himself.
Here is MLA Shepherd’s bio:
David Shepherd is a first-generation Canadian and life-long resident of Edmonton. His mother arrived from the Netherlands in 1948 and his father from Trinidad in 1967.
Prior to being elected as Member for Edmonton-Centre, he held positions in municipal, provincial and the federal public service, most recently serving with the City of Edmonton Transit department as a communications officer.
MLA Shepherd’s first love was music and he spent many years as a professional musician and studio engineer. He holds diplomas in music performance and studio recording from MacEwan University and a BA in professional communications from Royal Rhodes University.
In addition to his work as MLA for Edmonton-Centre he chairs the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices and is a member of the Standing Committee on Families and Communities.
It may be no surprise to you that David Shepherd is a champion of Edmonton’s arts scene but you may not know that he spent three years working with the North Edge Business Association to promote businesses in Central McDougall and Queen Mary Park. He is also an avid cyclist working with community groups to improve safety and accessibility on Edmonton’s streets and supporting children to walk or bike to school. As a proponent of community engagement he has been a tireless advocate for diversity – in housing that is both inclusive and affordable and in expanding access to services to immigrants and newcomers. He is also well- known for his honest approach in disclosing his Mental Health struggles and his journey to recovery providing hope to many that Mental Health issues can be overcome.
Through this work, he has developed a reputation as a powerful communicator and thoughtful commentator on politics and public policy.
And here’s how MLA Shepherd fringes:
How long have you been Fringing? What is your favourite Fringe memory?
The first time I went down to the Fringe grounds was in high school or just after. My favourite memory was in the summer of 1997 when I was starting to pursue a career in music and in Fringe ’97 went and got myself a busker’s pass and did some busking at the fringe. I’m a keyboard player and I sing so I was restricted to the electric busking circle between the library and the church. I had a lot of fun busking. It was really interesting learning about the dynamics and politics of busking at that particular circle. We were left to police it ourselves and there was a bit of a competition over who got there first, but it was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun and it was a great chance to see another side of the Fringe.
How do you choose the shows you’re going to see at Fringe?
I’ve had the honour to get to know a lot of people in Edmonton’s arts community, of course I know a lot of people in the music scene but I’ve also met people in the theatre community. So, a lot of it is looking around and seeing what the people I know are doing or what they’re recommending.
What advice would you give to a first-time Fringe-er for the best way to enjoy the festival?
The best way to enjoy the festival is to not be afraid to take some risks. A first-time goer to the festival might not have a lot of time to plan or it might be hard for them to get into some of the bigger show. It’s worth just looking for something that interests you and taking a chance on it. Spend some time hanging out on the fringe grounds, it’s always a great vibe there and you can see buskers and performers on the street and of course sample some of the food.
Has something you’ve seen or experienced at the Fringe had an impact on your life? How did it change you?
I can’t speak to a specific show, but generally, the experience of seeing shows at the fringe and having been there as a busker and the general atmosphere was very influential on me as an aspiring artist and musician. I really enjoy seeing that we have an incredible community of people in Edmonton who are willing to take chances and risks and put in an incredible amount of work to put together something that they dreamed up – their own vision or creation. I found that very inspiring both for myself as I started pursuing a career as a musician and even later on as I went back to school and started working in politics: remembering what you can achieve when you put your mind to work on something that you’re passionate about and how that passion can reach out and draw in other people and sometimes accomplish some pretty incredible things.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
MLA Shepherd’s profile is part of my 2018 How to Fringe series highlighting some of the folks I look up to in Edmonton who have generously agreed to share a bit about themselves and how they Fringe. If YOU want to Fringe, tickets for the 37th annual Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival go on sale August 7.