Written by Katya Irwin
Cowork's Community Manager and so, so much more.
Why should kids have all the fun? Ask Kim Palmer about her collection of fire truck LEGO. Or maybe about performing in a musical theatre group for adults. Or about her passion for figure skating and that time she crashed Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s 2010 Olympic gold medal party.
As Executive Director of the Okanagan School of the Arts, Kim is always exploring new creative programming – for all ages. She’s also a self-proclaimed adult fan of LEGO, known colloquially as an AFOL, and we get the sense that her LEGO collection may be the envy of most eight-year-olds.
“I’m slightly obsessed with fire trucks,” she confesses. “When I was a kid, my parents got me the LEGO fire station. When I started getting back into it about seven years ago, I dug it out, and then started buying new ones and antique ones. Now every time a new fire truck comes out, I have to get it.”
The process of building LEGO is “weirdly meditative,” she adds. “The whole world can go away and you can just sit there and concentrate on it.”
Kim also helps coordinate the BrickCan convention in Vancouver and is interested in starting up a group here in Penticton: LEGO-pogo, anyone?
As seen at Cowork
Kim runs the office for the Okanagan School of the Arts, now based at Cowork, formerly stationed at the Shatford Centre. She’s also the morning face at the front desk, greeting visitors and managing the tunes.
She speaks with vigour about OSA programming, which includes a life drawing group, painting, sketching, calligraphy classes – “and, eventually, a musical theatre group.” Delivery has adapted amidst the pandemic, with a mix of virtual and in-person classes where participants can spread out.
And she’s revived by the energy at Cowork, surrounded by people who love their work.
“There’s an energy and feeling of enthusiasm because most of the people who are here are doing the work or project that they really want to do. It’s really energizing,” she says.
Back in time
Kim grew up in rural Ontario, surrounded by farmland. The closest town was a 15-minute drive away called Forest. But this didn’t stop her from being busy. She figure skated six days a week, sang in choirs, worked for the school paper, and later taught swimming and coached skating.
She moved to Kingston to attend Queens University, where she completed a degree in English language and literature, “minoring in pipe band,” she jokes. In case you’re wondering, she played tenor drums and symbols.
“Nice and noisy – just the way I like it.”
Kim’s career took some jaunts, starting in retail, bankruptcy and call centres in North Bay. She moved to Vancouver in 2003, with jobs ranging from Canadian Red Cross to environmental consulting and then architecture and mining consulting. She worked briefly as a social media manager for Cherry Velvet, a local fashion brand, before – quite suddenly – moving to Penticton.
Moving to Penticton
One day, during musical theatre group in Vancouver, Kim met Pascal. Together, they performed in musicals and travelled around taking in skating competitions.
It should be said, these weren’t your usual musicals. Picture mashed-up scripts with different performances combined into one colourful, magical show. For example, Priscilla, Queen of the Damned. Or a superhero show with an alien invasion. Each was presented as a full production, complete with choreography, singing and costumes.
A skating competition brought the pair to Penticton one fall. They started coming up each summer, and something about floating down the channel inspired Pascal to file for a work transfer. It came through, and within two months, they arrived in Penticton (February 2019).
“I love a lot about Penticton. It wasn’t just the channel, although that’s a big one. And it wasn’t just the wine. Vancouver, as with any big city, can get very impersonal and we very much felt that from the time we were visiting, there’s an openness and friendliness here that we really appreciate.”
Recently, they started the Broadway Chorus of the Okanagan, which they’ve named Showtime Community Theatre. They’re prepared to remount musical theatre shows here, but COVID has put that on the back burner. She has also joined the Glengarry Skating Club.
What comes next? Whatever it is, you can expect it will be bright, creative and outrageously fun.
Due to COVID-19 our hours have changed. Our front door is open & reception desk available:
M-F: 9am - 11am
Hot Desk booking available here
For access other times, please contact us.
129 Nanaimo Ave W
Penticton BC V2A 1N2
community at coworkpenticton.com