15th Annual
Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival
Wednesday October 24 to Sunday November 4, 2018

Over 100 events at over 40 venues throughout the Downtown Eastside

With a focus on the rich and diverse communities of the Downtown Eastside, the 15thAnnual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival celebrates the creative and committed artists and activists who thrive in the heart of Vancouver. The 2018 Festival features twelve days of music, stories, songs, poetry, cultural celebrations, films, theatre, dance, spoken word, forums, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibits, mixed media, art talks, history talks and history walks.

To acknowledge, honour and support our home community’s longstanding commitment to social justice, the theme of the 2018 Festival is “Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope.” The Downtown Eastside community has an inspiring history of advocacy for human rights and social justice. DTES-involved artists, residents and citizens of Greater Vancouver have much to learn from our community’s history and accomplishments as we move forward to create artistic activity that speaks to today’s vital concerns and burning issues.

This year the Festival is thrilled to present Material Witness, an international co-production between renowned Spiderwoman Theater of New York City, the longest running Native American women’s theatre company in the US, and Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous multi-disciplinary-arts company from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. Material Witness brings together three generations of Indigenous women performers who convey their personal stories of violence, healing and renewal told with “energy, strength and goodwill” (New York Times).

This year’s Festival is very excited to present Vancouver Moving Theatre’s hit production East End Blues & All That Jazz at the Firehall Arts Centre. “true masterpiece” (James Johnstone); this soul-stirring evening of gospel and blues, jazz and memories, celebrates the life and contributions of Vancouver’s East End historic black community. Featuring Candus Churchill and Tom Pickett, two of Vancouver’s finest gospel and blues singers, and the talented Khari Wendell McClelland (The Sojourners/Freedom Singer) as Emcee.

Other exciting Festival highlights include the concert Songs of Justice, Songs of Hope with special guest Geoff BernerMade in Canada, a play-in-progress by Pedro Chamale with PTC (Playwrights Theatre Centre); excerpts of a new musical The Battle of Ballantyne Pier by Sherry MacDonald and Earle Peach; and workshops, guest speakers and visiting poets at the Japanese Hall Heritage Fair.

The mandate of the Festival is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, history, activism, people and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. A flagship event, the festival involves a wide range of professional, community, emerging and student artists and lovers of the arts: over 1,000 artists participated in last year’s Festival.


East End Blues & All That Jazz
Wednesday Oct 31 to Saturday Nov 3, 8pm
matinee Sat Nov 3, 2pm
Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova. $30/25 (inc. s/c & GST).
Tickets at door or advance sales: 604.689.0926 or ONLINE

Material Witness
Friday Oct 26, Saturday Oct 27, 8pm.
Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender.
$20/$15. Tickets at door or advance tickets ONLINE

Call Mr. Robeson - A life, with songs
Saturday Nov 3, 8pm.
St. James’ Anglican Church, 303 E. Cordova.
$20/$15. Tickets at door or advance sales ONLINE

Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper
Sunday Nov 4, concert 3pm, supper follows
Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender.
$25. For advance tickets contact 604.254.3436

Most other Festival events are free or by donation.


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