A Creative New Spark in Perth - theHumm December 2021
A Creative New Spark in Perth - theHumm December 2021
By Kris Riendeau
One of the best parts of running an arts paper in these parts is getting to know the creative movers and shakers in our community. Over the years, theHumm has written about several different initiatives undertaken by Heidi Stepanek and Peter Dixon — including the Orion Theatre Company (whose production of The Rocky Horror Show blew our minds and made us life-long fans) and the Perth Academy of Musical Theatre (PAMT — more recently known as the Academy for Musical Theatre). So we were delighted to hear that they have landed back in Perth, this time in the building that formerly housed The Book Worm. We caught up with them to learn more about their latest endeavour: Spark books & curios.
theHumm: After years of swimming in musical and theatrical waters, what made you decide to open a physical store?
Heidi and Peter: We thought we’d come back to dry land… It’s been a few years since we’ve been rooted in one location, and with the loss of live theatre this past couple of years, we’ve been yearning to be around people again, and the timing seemed appropriate while the Academy is waiting for a post-Covid resurgence (next summer!).
When the opportunity to purchase The Bookworm building came along, it “sparked” a couple of things for us. We have often played with the idea of having a bookstore — all three of us being avid readers and book collectors — and, also, we’ve wanted to create some kind of space that would inspire people, spark their imaginations, help them remember the joys of childhood play. Walt Disney started out with a similar mission, and we have learned a lot from his example. He believed that children shouldn’t have all the fun.
Spark seems to be a real family undertaking. How are each of you contributing to the vibe?
Great question! We haven’t worked together on a creative project since the halcyon days of Orion Theatre, and we’ve rediscovered how well we work together as a team – naturally falling into complementary roles that best suit the two of us. Having Skye’s creative energy and ideas in the mix has made us an even stronger team. We “three peas in a pod” have traveled, homeschooled, and creatively inspired each other for the past 13 years.
Skye’s love of books, of stories, and her own writing makes this a perfect fit. She loves helping adults and children discover new works. All three of us are loving curating the store, and each has diverse creative interests to add to each section.
I understand that you will be continuing The Book Worm’s legacy by selling gently-perused books, but you’re also bringing in more new titles and some other intriguing products. What is your overall philosophy for Spark?
We want people to walk in the door and immediately feel welcome, have their interests piqued and their curiosities stimulated, have an adventure, and leave with a smile on their faces and a warm feeling in their hearts. Sound like a lot? Well, we’ve always been in the experience business, and we bring the same intentions to Spark. We love people, love hearing their stories, sharing experiences, interests, creating connections, and making new friends.
As we mentioned earlier, we hope to be able spark the imaginations of everyone, and to promote a sense of adventure and play — particularly for us poor adults who often seem to be left out of the fun picture when it comes to gift giving. Which is why we’ve brought in things like the marvelous build-it-yourself wooden mechanical models and tiny rooms, and graphic novels for older youth and adults. And new books — lots of them — carefully curated to excite, inspire and educate (adding in exciting new fiction, more philosophy, poetry, inspirational works, French titles, etc.).
How has the reception been so far?
The reception has been incredible — welcoming, supportive, encouraging. We couldn’t ask to be in a better community, and we love being part of the downtown core energy. Our aim is to carefully position ourselves in the business community as partners more than as competitors.
We’ve had nothing but glowing reviews from patrons — both long-time Bookworm customers who are relieved that their much-loved bookstore is still operating, and new patrons who’ve discovered that we are now much more than a “used books” store and are excited about the new things we’ve brought into the shop.
After you make it through the holiday rush, do you have any plans to expand your mandate?
Yes, we have lots of possibilities whirling about in our brains — readings, workshops, small house concerts and other in-house events, and we would love to help in eventually developing Perth’s very own Writer’s Festival. One thing that can be depended on is that we will never stop recreating ourselves.
By Kris and Rob Riendeau
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Peggy Schenk — She’s A Sketch! - theHumm December 2021
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
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A Creative New Spark in Perth - theHumm December 2021
By Kris Riendeau
One of the best parts of running an arts paper in these parts is getting to know the creative movers and shakers in our community. Over the years, theHumm has written about several different initiatives undertaken by Heidi Stepanek and Peter Dixon — including the Orion Theatre Company (whose production of The Rocky Horror Show blew our minds and made us life-long fans) and the Perth Academy of Musical Theatre (PAMT — more recently known as the Academy for Musical Theatre). So we were delighted to hea......
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May 1 - 31 Exhibition: Jeweller Anne-Marie Chagnon
May 2 - Jun 20 Exhibition: Visible Mending
May 22 - Sep 5 Head Over Heels
May 23 The Co-conspirators
May 24 - Sep 6 Eric Uren
May 26 Greg Ball
May 27 - 28 Carole King/James Taylor Tribute Dinner+Show
May 27 Rag Bag Cabaret
May 30 Matt Dickson
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