14th Annual
Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival
Wednesday October 25 to Sunday November 5, 2017

Over 100 events at over 50 venues throughout the Downtown Eastside

The Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival serves as a high impact, bridge building force that gives voice to the Downtown Eastside and its low income residents, cultural communities and neighbourhoods.  

The theme of the 2017 Festival, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, pays tribute to women from all walks of life in the Downtown Eastside past and present.




Three events produced with DECA: The Feminine Touch, an exhibit of visual art by Downtown Eastside women artists; In Visible Colours, a performing arts showcase featuring local women of colour; and Women in the Round, an evening featuring Vancouver’s Blues Queen Dalannah Gail Bowen (Blues Hall of Fame) and special guests singing traditional and contemporary songs.


MISSING, a new chamber opera (City Opera Vancouver/Pacific Opera Victoria) with libretto by Marie Clements, gives voice to the story of Canada's missing and murdered indigenous women and is set in the Downtown Eastside and the Highway of Tears.


Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone (Crow’s Nest Collective): Blue (Olivia Davies) and Rose (Rosemary Georgeson) are friends who have always been there for each other. Now it’s time for Blue to move to the other side, and Rose is here to tell the story of Blue’s life at the edge of society. Contemporary choreography and storytelling through an Indigenous lens.

Festival Program Guide:  Posted by Wednesday October 11, 2017. Available on the street by Friday October 13, 2017. Looking forward to seeing you at the Festival!

Top Festival Picks
With more than 100 events scheduled over 12 days at over 50 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside, the 14th Annual DTES Heart of the City Festival (October 25 – November 5) has a cornucopia of cultural events and artistic activities to attend, participate in, and enjoy. Here are the Festival dozen exciting Top Festival Picks. DOWNLOAD WORD FILE

Women in the Round
Wednesday Oct 25, 7:30pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free
In recognition of the 2017 Festival theme, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, the Festival is thrilled to kick off the first evening of the festival with this special evening of extraordinary women’s voices. The Downtown Eastside’s own award-winning Dalannah Gail Bowen has been music-making for over fifty years and she has been an integral part of the DTES Heart of the City Festival since day one. The Festival is honoured to present Dalannah and her truly unique and powerful voice in this featured evening of traditional and contemporary songs. Joining Dalannah are three highly accomplished singers Renae Morriseau, Helen Duguay and Sara Cadeau, accompanied by Grammy-nominated pianist Michael Creber. Not to be missed!

Summoning (No Words)
Thursday Oct 26, opening 7:30pm; Friday Oct 27, Saturday Oct 28, drop-in 1pm-5pm, (pre-event to Crow’s Nest 7pm-7:30pm)
KW Production Studio, 111 W. Hastings. By donation

An interactive sound installation, Summoning is a response to the unsolved murders of Aboriginal and other women on the Highway of Tears in BC, and other incidents of violence against women across continents. Through community collaboration across race, nation and culture, Summoning includes recorded original sung compositions contributed by Allison Girvan, Bessie Wapp, Tanya Tagaq, Vandana Vishwas, Sandy Scofield, Andrea Menard, and Mutya Macatumpag. The original compositions are activated by the movement of audience members. Conceived and designed by Nicola Harwood, with composer/programmer Simon Lysander Overstall.

Sawagi Taiko & Tzo’kam
Friday Oct 27, 7pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Woodwards, 149 W. Hastings. Free
The festival is excited to present this unique collaboration of singing and drumming between the all-women Japanese drum group Sawagi Taiko and the First Nations performance group Tzo’kam. Led by composer, producer and traditional singer Russell Wallace, Tzo’kam is a Lil-wat family group who offer traditional and contemporary songs including drumming and dancing. The combination of these songs with the exploratory nature of Sawagi Taiko’s approach to the taiko art form makes for a fascinating evening of world culture and indigenous rhythms. Presented in partnership with SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone
Friday Oct 27, Saturday Oct 28, 7:45pm (pre-event Summoning 7pm)
KW Production Studio, 111 W. Hastings. Suggested donation $10
Crow’s Nest tells the story of Blue and Rose, friends who have always been there for each other. Now it’s time for Blue to move to the other side, and her lifetime friend, Rose, is here to tell the story of Blue’s life at the edge of society. Weaving contemporary choreography and storytelling through an Indigenous lens, Crow’s Nest features storyteller Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Dene) and dance artists Olivia C. Davies (Welsh/Metis-Anishnawbe) and Emily Long.

Sounds Global Ensemble
Sunday Oct 29, 3pm
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. By donation to the Garden
An ensemble that sounds like Vancouver looks, its diverse repertoire is drawn from Jewish, Persian, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese music. Comprised of some of Vancouver's most active musicians in the world music scene with a variable instrumentation, the ensemble will perform as a quartet at this year’s Festival: Lan Tung on erhu (Chinese violin), Bic Hoang on danbau (Vietnamese zither), Moshe Denburg on guitar, and Jonathan Bernard on percussion. Sounds Global Ensemble is established with the support of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO). 

True Voice Theatre Project
Monday Oct 30, 8:00pm
Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova. Pay what you can
The True Voice Theatre Project weaves together newly-created material responding to, exploring and inspired by the Festival theme Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside. The show is the third creation by the community-engaged theatre group led by Luisa Jojic and Creativa International. The ensemble, made up of individuals who live and work in the Downtown Eastside, is dedicated to using theatre to explore the themes of community, diversity and homelessness in Vancouver.

Public performances Nov 3, 7, 9, 11, 8pm; Nov 5, 2pm
York Theatre, 639 Commercial Dr. Tickets: thecultch.com
Missing tells a story everybody knows, about a woman no one remembers. Set in Vancouver and along the Highway of Tears, this music drama gives voice to the story of Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, and honours every one of these missing people. The libretto is by the distinguished First Nations playwright Marie Clements and the composer is Juno-award winner Brian Current. Missing is co-produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria. The premiere, co-produced with Vancouver Moving Theatre and the DTES Heart of the City Festival, is on Nov 1 before an invited audience of families, friends and the DTES community of the missing; guided by an advisory group of DTES-involved aboriginal women and elders.

Illicit: The Heart of a Movement
Thursday Nov 2, 6:30pm. KW Production Studio, 111 W. Hastings. By donation to the project
Illicit is a community-engaged artistic research project developed by members of Vancouver's the harm reduction movement. Created in response to the 2016 closing of DURC (Drug Users Resource Centre), Illicit explores the lived realities of the opioid overdose crisis, the effects of drug policy, the stigma faced by those who use illicit drugs, and the courage of community to act in the face of continuing loss. The artistic team includes Kelty McKerracherDavid MendesRenae MorriseauDevon Martin and an active group of co-researchers. Presented in partnership with SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Friday Nov 3, 6pm; Saturday Nov 4, 2pm. KW Atrium Studio, 111 W. Hastings. Free
Theatre Terrific presents Breath-Ahhh, a rhythmically explosive performance, comprised of dance, imagistic gestures, self-expressed soundscape and variations of emotion that explore the universal truth…that breath is something we all share. Created by Artistic Director Susanna Uchatius in collaboration with the all-inclusive cast.

Jazz Confluence
Friday Nov 3, 7pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free
The Festival is thrilled to invite music lovers to this jam-packed evening of jazz featuring the Downtown Eastside’s own Carnegie Jazz Band playing alongside some of Vancouver’s most highly accomplished jazz musicians. Under the tutelage of multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Brad Muirhead, the Carnegie Jazz Band is made-up of music lovers and semi-pro musicians. Joining the Carnegie Jazz Band is the professional Brad Muirhead Quartet with Jared Burrows (guitar), Brent Gubbels (bass), Buff Allen (drums) and Brad Muirhead (bass trombone). In spirit with the 2017 Festival theme, Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside, the evening also features four exceptional female jazz musicians: Downtown Eastside’s own singer and Blues Queen Dalannah Gail Bowen (Blues Hall of Fame), Lorae Farrell (trumpet), Ellen Marple (trombone) and Tegan Ceschi-Smith (violin). A not to be missed evening of originals and jazz standards.

Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper
Sunday Nov 5, concert 3pm, supper follows
Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. $25. For advance tickets contact 604-254-3436
The festival ends on a high note at the east-end’s historic Ukrainian Hall with lively music, invigorating dance and colourful costumes at Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper. This annual favourite, produced with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, features the Barvinok Choir and the award-winning Dovbush Dancers. To celebrate the Festival theme Honouring Women of the Downtown Eastside we have invited special guests: the all-women Japanese drum group Sawagi Taiko; a performance of “Frost Exploding Trees Moon” performed by Michelle Olson of Raven Spirit Dance; the audience favourite “The Perogy Scene” from Vancouver Moving Theatre’s production Bread & Salt; and a multi-media tribute to the women of the Ukrainian Hall created by Tatyana Beck and Libby Griffin. Immediately following the concert is the always-delicious traditional Ukrainian Supper. A full meal and concert deal!

Walking Tours

Women at Work in the Home and the Neighbourhood: Chinatown/Strathcona 1917-1960
Sunday Oct 29, 11am. Meet at Ovaltine Cafe, 251 E. Hastings. $10, pay what you can for local residents
The Festival is pleased to present a new walking tour with Marcia Toms to shed light on the vital work of women in the home and the Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods. Marcia draws stories of women from many different cultures and marginalized backgrounds who most often worked outside of the realm of organized labour. Born and raised in Vancouver, Marcia is a retired educator, advocate for public education and has a passion for local social history.

Sneak Peek into Chinatown
Saturday Nov 4, 11am. Meet at Sai Woo, 158 E. Pender. $10, pay what you can for local residents
Join hosts Judy Lam Maxwell and Steven Wong for a glimpse of Chinatown. The tour begins at a heritage restaurant space, climbs flights of stairs to a heritage clan association, explores a Chinese herbal medicine store and ends the walk at Modernize Tailors, the last Chinatown tailor shop celebrating 104 years. Both Judy and Steven have active ties to the people and businesses in Chinatown; Judy leads Historical Chinatown Tours and Steven is third generation ‘man about town’ in Vancouver’s Chinatown.


The Heart of the City Festival gratefully acknowledges the financial and in-kind support of our 2016 Festival partners and sponsors.