Top Festival Picks – 10th Annual DTES Heart of the City Festival


With more than 80 events at over 25 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside scheduled over twelve days in this year’s Festival (October 23 – November 3 & Special post-Festival events November 8 – 10), choosing what to see and hear becomes a delightful challenge. Here is a baker’s dozen: thirteen thrilling Top Festival Picks for 2013!

1. Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show – Park-a-Palooza! – Fun & Play: The sixth annual community favourite kicks off at Oppenheimer Park with a sidewalk procession, led by Brad Muirhead and the Hastings Street Band, jiving down Hastings Street all the way to the opening reception at Gallery Gachet. Park-a-Palooza! features self-taught, new and emerging local artists from the creative community of Oppenheimer Park. This exhibition offers an incredible range of accomplished visual art, and the Festival is thrilled to share their works.
Oppenheimer Park, 488 Powell. Thurs Oct 24, 5pm. Free
Click for photos and video coverage of this event.

2. Hot Jazz at the Carnegie: Finger snappin’, toe tappin’, head boppin’ hot music with the Carnegie Jazz Band, comprised of enthusiastic amateur jazz musicians and premiere vocalist Dalannah Gail Bowen, under the wonderful tutelage of multi-instrumentalist and composer Brad Muirhead. Join the band for an evening of original music from the community with arrangements by Brad, with special guest, veteran jazz trombonist Dennis Esson.
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Fri Oct 25, 8pm. Free
Click for photos and video coverage of this event.

3. Iskwew Singers: (pronounced Is-kway-yo) is a trio of Canadian Aboriginal women who create and perform songs in the plains tradition. The soaring vocal harmonies of Fara Palmer, Krystle Pederson and Sandy Scofield will soothe and uplift your spirit. The heartbeat of mother earth is heard through their drums, underscoring a message of culture from a people who have survived the impacts of colonization; each song is a story.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. Sat Oct 26, 2pm.
By donation to the Garden

4. Listening to Truth, Seeking Reconciliation: Following BC Reconciliation Week we ask “what does reconciliation mean to you?” Join Angela White of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society for a “talkumentary” evening with documentaries, guest speakers and discussion on how to move forward to reconciliation. One of the short films being shown is The Language of Love, directed by Marie Clements, featuring DTES artist and activist Stephen Lytton. Musical guests Iskwew Singers will perform songs that tell stories of our connection to the earth, the Creator and one another.
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Sat Oct 26, 6pm. Free

5. Women In Fish: The Festival is proud to partner with urban ink productions to present Women In Fish, a stunningly beautiful and evocative multi-media production. Women in Fish shares the powerful personal histories and memories of women who lived and worked in the West Coast fishing industry. The heart of Women in Fish is a tough and touching survival story of the 1962 sinking of the fishing packer Loretta B. Originally conceived and directed by Marie Clements and Kathleen Flaherty this version features First Nation collaborator Rosemary Georgeson, with Mary Galloway as an on-stage witness who listens and remembers.
Carnegie Gymnasium, 401 Main. Sun Oct 27, 3pm & 7pm. Free

6. Creating Pauline: City Opera Vancouver offers an informal presentation about the creation of the new opera Pauline (by Margaret Atwood and Tobin Stokes) to premiere in May 2014, and an introduction to the life of Canadian poet and performer Pauline Johnson (1861-1913). Guests include composer Tobin Stokes, director Norman Armour, singer Rose-Ellen Nichols, pianist David Boothroyd, and conductor and artistic director Charles Barber. Discussion welcome.
Chinese Cultural Centre Museum, 555 Columbia. Tues Oct 29, 8pm. Free
Click for photos and video coverage of this event. 

7. DTES Front and Centre: Love on the Piano: DTES Front and Centre presents a selection of the many incredible performing artists from the neighbourhood. This year we have invited singers and musicians whose work springs from the keyboard, with the music of love. The line-up features mezzo-soprano A.S. Naomi Narvey with Chansons d’Amour: Edith Piaf, accompanied by pianist Elaine Joe; extraordinary pianist and local favourite Stan Hudac; in her first Festival appearance pianist and Carnegie regular Joyce Morgan; and special guest Dalannah Gail Bowen accompanied by the awe-inspiring Michael Creber on piano.
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Wed Oct 30, 7:30pm. Free
Click for photos and video coverage of this event.

8. Barrio Flamenco: Flamenco for the People: Celebrate the spirit of the Downtown Eastside with an unforgettable evening of live flamenco music and dance! Flamenco is an art form by and for the people, danced and played with spirit, ferocity, joy, laughter and tears. Hosted by flamenco dancer Kelty McKerracher, Barrio Flamenco features some of the most compelling flamenco artists in the city. An annual theatre-packed favourite!
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Fri Nov 1, 7:30pm. Free

9. Taiko Roots: in the heart of the city: Inspired by a taiko performance at the 1979 Powell Street Festival, members of Vancouver’s Asian community came together to form their own taiko group as a means of exploring and celebrating their heritage through the Japanese drum. One of those members was John Endo Greenaway, long time Vancouver Moving Theatre designer and artistic associate. As a tribute to Vancouver as the birthplace of taiko in Canada and in recognition of John’s immense contribution to the taiko community, the Festival presents an evening of taiko. Immerse yourself in the beats, in the rhythms, in the excitement of Sansho Daiko, Vancouver’s newest taiko group, of which John is a founding member. Other groups include Uzume Taiko and LOUD in an exciting collaboration, Sawagi Taiko, Katari Taiko and Chibi Taiko. Bar sales.
Vancouver Ballroom, 456 Prior. Fri Nov 1, 8pm. Suggested donation $10
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10. Out on a Limb: The Only Animal, in association with PHS Community Services, presents Out On A Limb, an intergenerational digital storytelling project about growing up and growing older. Twelve Downtown Eastside involved youth and elders, in collaboration with six artists, crafted animated video stories that will be projected on the outside wall of the Portland Hotel. Directed by Eric Rhys Miller, facilitated by storyteller David Roche and choral director Vanessa Richards, designed by Keith Murray.
Hastings Urban Farm, 58 W. Hastings. Sat Nov 2 & Sun Nov 3, 7:30pm & 8:30pm. Free
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11. Modernize Tailors: 100 Years of Dressing the Modern Man: Modernize Tailors is the last Chinese tailor shop in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Brothers Bill Wong and Jack Wong, whose father first opened the shop in 1913, have run this legendary local business for sixty-five years. In tribute to their achievement, from November 1 to 30 the Garden hosts an exhibition of pictures, words, suits and other artifacts. The opening reception on November 3 features the first public reading of excerpts from Bill’s journal; a diary of daily life in a Chinese village seen through the eyes of a fourteen year of boy.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. Sun Nov 3, 1:30pm.
By donation to the Garden
Click for photos and videos from this event.

12. CONNECT, Karen Jamieson Dance: Performers from the Carnegie Dance Troupe perform CONNECT, a processional dance performance inspired by personal and traditional music, led by dancer and choreographer Karen Jamieson. This is the completed work of a two year project featuring live music, poetry, First Nations drumming and cultural dances. Procession begins at Carnegie and leads down Hastings Street to SFU Woodwards where the performance concludes.
Meet at steps of Carnegie, 401 Main; procession ends at SFU Woodwards World Art Centre, 149 W. Hastings. Sun Nov 3, 3pm-4pm. Free
Click for photos and videos from this event.

PLUS Special post-Festival Anniversary Event
13. Bread and Salt: Vancouver Moving Theatre in partnership with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians presents Bread and Salt, a multi-disciplinary production that tells the story of the Ukrainian experience in Vancouver’s East End. This 85th Anniversary tribute weaves oral history with live theatre and music, haunting choral singing and the driving rhythms of Ukrainian dance. Bread and Salt features a multigenerational cast of professional and community actors, singers, dancers and musicians. Two performances only: Friday evening November 8 (performance only) and Sunday matinee November 10 (performance and Ukrainian dinner).
Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. Fri Nov 8, 8pm, $15; & Sun Nov 10, 3pm, $25.
Dinner follows the Sunday performance. For advance sales contact (604) 254-3436.

Most events are free or by suggested donation.

Program guides will be distributed throughout Downtown Eastside and along Main Street and Commercial Drive between Friday Oct 11 and Sunday October 13.

The 2013 Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival has been made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, BC Arts Council, BC Gaming, City of Vancouver Cultural Services and Great Beginnings Program, Friends of the Downtown Eastside, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BCGEU, program guide sponsor Port Metro Vancouver, and media sponsors Georgia Straight and CTV.

For information about the Festival events or to set up any interviews, please contact Festival Publicist Jodi Smith, JLS Entertainment. Tel: (604) 736.4939. Email:

City of Vancouver Proclamation

The City of Vancouver proclaimed Tuesday, October 30, 2012, City of Vancouver Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival Day.

(l-r) Terry Hunter (Executive Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre/Artistic Producer, DTES Heart of the City Festival), Mayor Gregor Robertson and Gena Thompson (President, Carnegie Community Centre Association)

Welcome to the 2012 Heart of the City Festival

The Downtown Eastside is our home, a home we share with thousands of other diverse people who deeply love this community. The poet Muriel Marjorie (Williams), who graces the cover of this year’s program guide, shouts it out so eloquently: “I love the Downtown Eastside because of its beauty and its strength, its refusal to SHUT UP and its insistence upon justice.”

This line of fiery poetry exemplifies the theme of this year’s festival: Voices from the Heart.

Here you will hear voices that inform, raise awareness and educate about the stories, concerns, values, heritage, art forms, community plans and exciting art generated in Vancouver’s founding community.

Voices that speak to the wisdom and power of our community and the challenges it faces. And voices that celebrate the neighbourhood’s indigenous stories so that old and new community members can draw strength from the community’s heritage, feel pride in its residents and values and understand its roots.

Thank you to our community partners and all those in the community who have helped realize this year’s event, our ninth annual festival. Thank you to our festival team who have worked with such dedication to produce, promote and present the many events throughout our neighbourhood at this year’s festival. And a special heartfelt thank you to Teresa Vandertuin (Associate Artistic Producer) for the passion, commitment, care, thoroughness and sense of humour she pours into the festival.

See you at the Festival everyone! Enjoy!

Terry Hunter
Executive Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre
Artistic Producer, DTES Heart of the City Festival

Savannah Walling
Artistic Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre
Associate Artistic Director, DTES Heart of the City Festival