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Calgary has arts chaplains

Brandon Trotter and Val Lieske are stepping into the role of Arts Chaplain for the arts community in Calgary. Both have been active in their local church and in the arts community for years, particularly in the theatre/performing arts.

They will provide pastoral care services stepping in during times of crisis or need, offering support to people when faced with personal tragedy or significant life incidents, referring on to other care providers such as social workers, psychologists or medical personnel when needed. They will be serving the spiritual and emotional needs of those in the arts community.

“We want to meet the need of the moment, to be available to listen,” says Trotter, “Artists walk a difficult path. We often seek to capture the essence of the ephemeral qualities of life. The joys, sorrows, and deep truths about what it means to be human. We explore the dark shadows that others refuse to plumb. But we often do it alone. Our communities come and go as we move from one exhibition to another, from one tour stop to the next.” He goes on to say, “I believe we would all benefit from someone who is willing to walk alongside us as we grapple with some of life’s bigger questions. Someone who doesn’t have an agenda or need to make money from our work. Someone who is available when life gets us down.”

After waiting almost seven years to launch an event inspired by The Broadway Blessing in New York, Val, through Fire Exit Theatre, launched The Blessing of the Artists this past October.

“I think it was that event that truly solidified my desire to, more officially, put myself into a role of Chaplain,” explains Lieske. “For years I have enjoyed drinking coffee and simply listening to artists as they explore their morality and mortality.”

Calgary has counsellors who can help us through emotional or mental trials. We have community associations that can offer like-minded compatriots. But we can use someone who is just willing to listen without judgment and offer advice.

“As I said at The Blessing, over the course of a season so much can go wrong,“ says Lieske. “Marriages fail, addictions flare up, depression seeps in, or a diagnosis is serious. This is often when we can feel the most isolated or when you start asking the big questions of life. We consider it a privilege to be invited into these times.”

You can find Brandon Trotter at 587-327-0939 or Val Lieske is at 403.650.5502 or

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