Lounging in a hammock in South America back in 2001, Jay MacGillivray came to a life-altering conclusion: From that day on, he’d use his sales skills for good, not evil. It wasn’t like MacGillivray was selling uranium to the Iranians. At the time, he worked at an information technology firm. But after it was acquired by AT&T, he decided to traipse around South America. Three weeks turned into six months and the direction of MacGillivray’s life changed.
South America’s rich arts and culture sparked in MacGillivray a desire to use his sales and marketing skills to benefit Calgary’s arts scene, rather than capitalistic corporations. “Small nonprofits get the most out of the Internet,” he says. “An effective website lets them talk to clients, fundraise, sell tickets and promote themselves.”
MacGillivray realized his dream in January with the launch of Structured Abstractions Inc., which builds websites for non-profits, such as Theatre Calgary and the Arts City Festival. Looking back, McGillivray’s gravitation to the arts seems natural. While attending a play at the University of Calgary, he was gripped by the experience of live theatre and music. Art creates a more civil, tolerant, stimulated society, he says. “It’s something that makes Calgary a better city.”
As the board chairman of Calgary’s oft-naked and always-controversial alternative theatre group, One Yellow Rabbit, MacGillivray works to increase the company’s success. Last year, the group had its most renowned season in its 25- year history. Attendance is now at its highest, the company’s coffers at their healthiest.
On his wedding ring, MacGillivray had engraved his favourite lyrics from a tune by the rock band The Pixies: “La la love you.” The quote refers to his wife, Brenda. But listening to MacGillivray, it could, as well, apply to his feelings about art.
One Yellow Rabbit
member, Project 2010,
Epcor Centre for the
Save our Salmon
Director, One Yellow