Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April-May 2024 • Circulation 5000


Mike Tulley: “In the arts community the rewards are other than money.”

Mike Tulley. Paula E. Kirman

Mike Tulley and I sat down for coffee and a chat at Spinelli’s in Little Italy.

“I’ve been doing sound and helping with production for Heart of the City since the beginning,” he says. “I came in right from the start as a sound technician [with] my previous company, which we named after my initials, MKT Systems. We were cheap but it was not volunteer work.”

He continues: “Heart of the City is a great little festival for introducing new performers to the world. Every year there are performers for whom Heart of the City is their first time on stage in front of an audience and they are terribly nervous but sometimes it’s still a great performance.”

When I asked Mike what has kept him going all these years, he responded: “Partly the fun, partly because I live in the neighbourhood. I’ve recently moved north to Alberta Avenue, but for most of the time of the Heart of the City Festival I lived in either Boyle Street or McCauley.”

Mike has officially retired but you can still catch him occasionally doing sound with Listen Louder Productions. He also mentors emerging sound techs.“The CO*LAB inner city venue is a place not only for emerging artists to perform, but for emerging techs to improve their skills and so we are getting young techs coming from MacEwan University helping us and improving their real world skills by working in a real world venue,” Mike says.

Mike shared the good news that “CO*LAB, as a venue, is going to pull through.” He said that many people made calls to the City and that our City councillor, Anne Stevenson, has been very helpful in saving the inner city venue.

Mike has been living in Edmonton, aside from one year in Toronto, since April Fools’ Day (April 1st) of 1970. “I didn’t actually pick that day consciously, but I needed to get out of the United States in a hurry because the U.S. Army had found out where I was living.”

Mike is an American citizen who fled to Canada so that he would not be sent to war in Vietnam. I asked him if we could keep this on the record and he said, “At my age I don’t think they want me back.”

He explains that he chooses to live in the inner city mostly for financial reasons. “Let’s face it: this is the least expensive place to rent a home in the city. When you’re supporting the arts, the paycheque is not great.” 

However, Mike also adds that, “In the arts community the rewards are other than money. The artists have always found cheaper places to live. What’s right about this [area] is that we have a lot of artistic and creative people here. I think that among people who are poor there is a better sense of mutual support.” 

Mike wanted to give a special shout out of thanks to McCauley-based musician AV (Ann Vriend) for her porch concert series during the pandemic. He said that it was a bright spot for those dark days. 

Corine Demas lives in McCauley where she is the President of the McCauley Community League and a board member with Heart of the City.

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