How to be Halifamous

Halifame is different from other celebrity: it means you do things to make Halifax cooler, not just yourself. And it’s ok if nobody outside the city knows. We’ll show you the inside track.

Haliwood celebrities are your baristas by day, musicians by night. Due to an overwhelming urge to celebrate our community, Haligonians crown any talented about-town figure "Halifamous", unnecessarily defined by Urban Dictionary as "a person who is considered famous within Halifax." Plenty of the Halifamous aren't even from here.

If you're creative but lack the posse, you can still earn the title. First embrace Halifax; once you love this city the rest comes easy. Next make a lasting impression in the arts scene with these proven strategies.

Promote your sound

"Oh wow, I mean, just about anyone you can think of really," executive director Scott Long says when asked how many artists Music Nova Scotia (5516 Spring Garden Road, Suite 302, has supported locally. "Jill Barber, Meaghan Smith, Classified, Joel Plaskett, Wintersleep, In-Flight Safety, Jimmy Rankin, I mean it just goes on and on."

Want to learn about the music biz? Membership costs $40 per individual, $50 per band annually. You can become a member on their website, over the phone or at their office. Once you're a member you can invade their meeting space, tear through their massive album collection, rip up books in the resource centre, design show posters and use all their paper to print them off. You can even milk them for an affordable health plan.

Sign up for the Music NS newsletter and stay in the loop for upcoming shows and a Battle of the Bands this fall.

Meanwhile you've got to practice. Head to Coburg Coffee House (6085 Coburg Road, 429-2326) for its open mic on Tuesday evenings. If you're feeling ambitious, book your band or solo act the same night for New Music Tuesdays at the Seahorse hosted by Music Nova Scotia.

If all else fails, pick up your instrument of choice --- banjo, guitar, pan flute --- and head to the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market. Dammien Alexander and Crissi Cochrane have both played for pedestrians.

Make a movie

Andrea Dorfman's whimsical animations caught on in Halifax thanks to her time spent experimenting at the Atlantic Filmmakers' Co-operative (CBC Radio Building, 5600 Sackville Street, 420-4572).

"It was a really supportive and nurturing environment for anyone who had any interest in film but didn't necessarily have experience," Dorfman says over the phone while on the bus, the relentless chatter of 5pm commuters echoing in the background. "There were so many people and resources. It was a great place to make mistakes."

While at AFCOOP her films grew longer and more ambitious until finally she found herself making a feature-length film. After her experimental phase at the co-op she landed a job as a camera assistant and made her own films on the side.

Once you pay the $40 to $70 membership fee and fill out an application form, a world of equipment and support will open up to you. Check for more information.

"There are so many workshops that provide an entry-level experience to the co-operative," Dorfman says. "I've known lots of people who have come to the city and it's one of the first places they've gone to either to make a film or to meet people or just see what the scene is like." Make 'em laugh

Get noticed on stage at Yuk Yuk's (The Westin Hotel, 1181 Hollis Street) like internet and stand-up sensations Picnicface. Ring up 429-9857 to reserve your spot at Yuk's emerging talent night beginning in September. Joker's Comedy Club (5680 Spring Garden Road) offers a professional-meets-amateur night called The Launching Pad on Tuesdays. Call

421-JOKE to sign up.

If you're more actor than comedian, Neptune Theatre (1593 Argyle Street, 429-3750) offers improv classes starting this fall, and the Zuppa Theatre Company ( has an acting class coming up during spring break.

Show your art

When Pete Diamond first moved to Halifax to study fine arts at NSCAD, no one knew he would launch his career here. While in high school he illustrated posters for punk rock shows. In Halifax, Diamond continued designing posters for the music scene.

It paid off. Commissions trickled in for album art and t-shirts, and after years of hard work his illustrations began showing in local galleries. You won't see him around town anymore; he's exported his talent to Vienna, Austria, where his grandmother learned to draw.

Want to take the same track as Diamond? Start by offering free poster art to local bands ---you'll find them at Gus' Pub (2605 Agricola Street, 423-7786). In your spare time, network with up-and-coming artists at Anna Leonowens Gallery (1891 Granville Street, 444-9600). Offer your services at 161 Gallon Gallery (6014 Cunard Street, 423-2706)---they take student work. The Upstairs Apartment Gallery Collective (find them on Facebook) offers free wall space and doesn't take commission. They'll likely sell your art too, with hundreds swarming their live art and music shows once every few months.

Fight for what's right

If you have an activist edge you can get noticed while promoting a cause. Haligonian activist Muriel Duckworth earned recognition by advocating for peace, famously declaring over and over again: "War is stupid! Only love can save the world." The Quebec native died last year after a century-long, full life of advocating for the equal rights of women. Locally she was involved with the Raging Grannies, Voice of Women (Nova Scotia), and other peaceful groups.

Make your social-justice mark and continue Muriel's legacy by volunteering for the Halifax Peace Coalition (call Chris Maxwell, 496-9209). If the ecology movement is more your forte, offer a hand at the Ecology Action Centre (2705 Fern Lane, 429-2202). NSPIRG (Dalhousie Student Union, 6136 University Avenue, Room 314, 494-6662) which combines the best of both with a radical edge.

Get heard

A radio show can do wonders for your dream of becoming a household name. Radio hosts Mat and Dave can attest to that; last names no longer matter after five seasons of "Let's Get Baked with Mat and Dave," cooking with various musicians ---including locals Dog Day and Jenn Grant ---on CKDU (Dalhousie Student Union, 6136 University Avenue, fourth floor, 494-6479).

Dalhousie's community radio station, adored by the wider Halifax community, is always looking for contributors and volunteers. Drop by and sign up for a training session. Or read your fiction and poetry to a throng of listeners sitting cross-legged in the living room of The Allan Street Reading Series (Facebook) and have your voice on a CBC Radio podcast.

Meet important people

The Dawgfather (outside 6136 University Avenue) will tell you it's all about who you know, you know what I'm sayin'? Rarely known by his real name, Jerry Reddick is a major super-connector in Halifax. He'll remember your name and introduce you to important people as if it were his job to make you famous.

Mayor Peter Kelly's social networking strategy is the next best thing: Add every Haligonian on Facebook, even if you've never met them.

Creep your local music idols in person at The Paragon Theatre (2037 Gottingen Street), Halifamous artists at The Khyber ICA (1588 Barrington Street), or cool professors at The Grad House (1252 LeMarchant Street).

Brand yourself

Rebekah Higgs wouldn't be caught dead out of her uniform of body suits, high-waisted skirts and piles of blonde hair. Ghettosocks would look downright normal without his empty-frame glasses and locally-designed hoodies.

Create your own look at one of the oodles of vintage stores Halifax has to offer including Dressed in Time (5670 Spring Garden Road, 488-7116), Elsie's (1530 Queen Street, 425-2599) and Lost and Found (2383 Agricola Street, 446-5986), which sells Higgs' hand-made necklaces and earrings.

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