Job Title: President, Metro Cinema; Policy and Communications Advisor, Edmonton Mayor’s Office
Why He’s Top 40: He continues to evolve a hallmark of Edmonton’s arts and culture scene with diverse, community-minded programming.
Dan Nielsen knows that you can watch a movie anywhere, but, as president of Metro Cinema (a volunteer position), he works to ensure the non-profit arts organization engages patrons in a local, diverse, community-oriented experience, complete with popcorn and beer.
“Edmonton is a city where cinema culture is thriving during a time of change in the movie industry,” Nielsen says. “The programming at Metro Cinema is an opportunity to connect with community members for unique and meaningful content, with arts organizations for talks and presentations, and with local filmmakers who might not have had an opportunity to show their stuff on the big screen. There’s something very different about when you’re sitting in a historic theatre watching something you might not have had access to anywhere else.”
Nielsen has been president for two years, but has been involved with Metro Cinema for over 10 since joining the organization as front of-house staff.
“It was a good opportunity because I’d seen what Metro Cinema had gone through and what we were becoming, and still maintain what Metro always wanted to be.”
Nielsen’s also been part of Edmonton’s overall transformation for the past decade, working on projects like the Change for Climate Mayors Summit and Energy Transition Strategy in his work alongside Mayor Don Iveson, first as his director of research and now as his policy and communications advisor.
Ultimately, Nielsen thinks the people are what makes Edmonton a special place to get involved. “Whatever I do, I do it because it’s something interesting with cool people. I’ve seen how much the community takes ownership of things [like Fringe, Folk Fest, Metro Cinema] and how it’s important to them and important to Edmonton, and it’s important to be involved in that. It’s a really cool thing to witness when people love something so much.”