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.

This year's theme 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 create artistic activity that speaks to today’s vital concerns and burning issues.

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.

Top Festival Picks

With more than 100 events scheduled over 12 days at over 40 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside, the 15thAnnual DTES Heart of the City Festival (October 24 – November 4, 2018) has a cornucopia of cultural events and artistic activities to attend, participate in, and enjoy. Here are thirteen exciting Top Festival Picks. 

1.  Songs of Justice, Songs of Hope This evening of stirring sing-along activist songs launches the Festival and this year’s theme Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope. Led by musician, composer, conductor, and 2018 Festival Artist in Residence Earle Peach (2017 Mayor Arts Award), this evening of song features, among others, social justice Solidarity Notes Labour Choir singing about historical and current events and issues; and accordionist-extraordinaire Geoff Berner, whose powerful and biting social satirical songs can make you laugh or weep – often at the same time. Come ready to sing!

Wednesday Oct 24, 7pm.
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free

2. Battle of Ballantyne Pier Experience Vancouver labour history in the making. Join local playwright Sherry MacDonald and composer Earle Peach as they present an excerpt from their new musical in-development Battle of Ballantyne Pier. This musical explores the uniquely Vancouver story of the longshore workers’ strike of 1935 and the bloody confrontation that took place in and around the Downtown Eastside waterfront. Additional music by Lil’wat Nation songwriter Russell Wallace; director Peter Jorgensen.

Thursday Oct 25, 3pm.
Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph. Free
Friday Oct 26, 1pm
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free

3. Hope Matters, An Evening with Lee Maracle and Columpa Bobb Acclaimed, award-winning writer and elder Lee Maracle and award-winning actor, playwright, photographer, poet and teacher Columpa Bobb read from their upcoming book, Hope Matters. Written over a number of years by Lee with her two daughters, Columpa and Tania Carter, Maracle says, “in the end our voices blended into a song of hope and reconciliation.” Lee Maracle is a member of the Stó:lō Nation, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and one of the first Indigenous female authors to be published in Canada. Presented in partnership with Massy Books.

Thursday Oct 25, 7pm
Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia
Reserve your free tickets 

4. A Double Bill - The Real Story of the Talking Freds & Woody Sed

The Real Story of the Talking Freds, features John Black and Downtown Eastside resident Jim Sandsrecollecting their days in the 1980s as a comic satirical music duo who performed at local demonstrations, including against the Expo-related evictions and the fight for CRAB Park.

Woody Sed, performed by Vancouver actor and creator Thomas Jones, explores the life and turbulent times of singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie. With songs and stories, Jones bundles up a cascade of colourful charactersand tells a true to life tale of this legendary singer-songwriter: a man who wrote on his guitar, ‘This machine kills fascists’.

Thursday Oct 25, Friday Oct 26, 8pm
KW Production Studio, 111 W. Hastings
Suggested donation $10, at the door or in advance

5. Material Witness The Festival is honoured 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 United States, and Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous multi-disciplinary-arts company from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. Material Witness brings together three generations of Indigenous women performers, including the legendary actor Muriel Miquel, in a funny, biting and searing production that conveys personal stories of violence, healing and renewal, told with “energy, strength and goodwill” (New York Times).

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

6. Vetta Chamber Music, Seasons of the Sea weaves together contemporary classical music by award-winning Vancouver composer Jeffrey Ryan with a narrative written by Rosemary Georgeson (Sahtu Dene/Coast Salish), recipient of the 2009 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award as Emerging artist/Community-engaged Arts. This original work, performed by Vetta Chamber Music and Rosemary Georgeson, describes the seasons on and by the sea, and is inspired by the thirteen moon season of the Coast Salish peoples who used the tides and seasons of the sea as their calendar. Presented in partnership with Vetta Chamber Music Society.

Sunday Oct 28, 3pm. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. By donation to the Garden

7. Emerging Heritage Fair 1928-2018-2108Celebrate the shared 90thanniversary of the Japanese Hall and of Japan/Canada diplomatic relations; and 15thanniversary of the Downtown Eastside Community Play: In the Heart of a City.

1pm - Opening Ceremony and Education Fair Featuring VancouverOkinawa Taiko, Shoichi Nejime (Tokyo) award-winning writer, Landscapes of Injustice, Kayla Isomuraand The Suitcase Project, Highway Legacy Sign Projectand much more!

7pm - Performances and Family Dance  | Featuring Tasai Artist Collective and Soramaru Takayama with a dramatic and interactive poetry performance; Dalannah Gail Bowen shares songs from the DTES Community Play;  Sawagi Taiko collaborates with Tzo’kam, led by composer/traditional singer Russell Wallace; and jazz vocalist Angela Verbrugge and her band performs classic swing to dance the night away.

Saturday Oct 27, Education Fair 1pm, Performances 7pm
Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, 487 Alexander. Book free tickets HERE 

8. East End Blues & All That Jazz Vancouver Moving Theatre’s soul-stirring evening of gospel and blues, jazz and memories celebrating the life and contributions of Vancouver’s East End historic black residential community and the legendary Gibson family. Written by the late Denis Simpson and Savannah Walling, with a stellar team of artists: Candus Churchill and Tom Pickett, two of Vancouver’s finest gospel and blues singers; emcee and singer Khari Wendell McClelland; musicians Bill Costin (piano) and Tim Stacey (bass); with special guests Dalannah Gail Bowen, and – at selected performances – Thelma Gibson. READ MORE   

Wednesday Oct 31 to Saturday Nov 3, 8pm
matinee Sat Nov 3, 2pm
Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova.
$30/25. Tickets at door or advance sales: 604.689.0926
; boxoffice@firehallartscentre.ca, or www.Firehallartscentre.ca

9. SRO Stars Documentary theatre that sizzles with life from the mental health worldview of five writers: Jaeger Cormack, Ali Khan, Sandra Yuen MacKayLenore Rowntree and Ana Smith. Local actors stage the true stories of the writers with unabashedly honest insights. Developed with the support of Petra Thaddeus (stage manager), the Motivation Power & Achievement Society, and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. Post-show talkback. 

Friday Nov 2, 7:30pm. InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings, entrance on Carrall. Free

10. Carnegie Jazz Band – A Tribute to Al Neil A musical tribute to Al Neil, the late Vancouver jazz man, longtime Downtown Eastside Strathcona resident, and recent recipient of the Mayors’ Award for Lifetime Achievement. Joining the Carnegie Jazz Band, under the tutelage of multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Brad Muirhead, are three of Vancouver’s finest creative musicians: Greg Simpson (drums) and Paul Plimley (piano), and bass man Tommy Babbin. An evening of jazz standards and off the chart improvisation and experimentation.

Friday Nov 2, 7pm. Carnegie Theatre
401 Main. Free

11. Made in Canada Where does our food come from? Who grows it? Who is nourished by it? Join playwright Pedro Chamale and experience words and music from his play-in-progress that brings temporary foreign farm workers centre stage – the unseen people who plant, tend, and harvest. We will share food and stories in a family-friendly event that reveals some hidden links in Canada's food chain. Presented with PTC (Playwrights Theatre Centre).

Saturday Nov 3, 2pm. DTES Neighbourhood House, 573 E. Hastings. Free

12. Call Mr. Robeson – A life, with songs From Liverpool, England, Nigerian-born Tayo Aluko in his award-winning one man play Call Mr. Robeson – A life, with songs. This inspiring piece of biographical musical theatre explores the remarkable life of the legendary Paul Robeson, African-American actor and singer. The play highlights Mr. Robeson’s heroic political activism, and features fiery oratory and famous songs such as Ol’ Man River. Musical accompaniment by local pianist Elaine Joe.  

Saturday Nov 3, 8pm.
St. James’ Anglican Church, 303 E. Cordova.
$20/$15. Tickets at door or advance sales

13. Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper This annual favourite, produced with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, features The Sojourners (Khari McClelland, Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders), Solidarity Notes Labour Choir with conductor Earle Peach, the Barvinok Choir with conductor Beverly Dobrinsky, and the award-winning Dovbush Dancers. The best full meal and concert deal in Vancouver!

Sunday Nov 4, concert 3pm, supper follows
Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender
$25. Advance tickets: 604.254.3436

Click on full screen icon in lower right of the window to view the program guide in a larger format. Click on the icon again to return to the homepage.

Notice of Correction
In the event description for the 2pm Film Screenings on Sat Oct 27, and on page 20 of the printed edition of the Festival Program Guide, the name of Indigenous leader Ron George was incorrectly typed in. Our sincere apologies to Ron George and his family and our audience for this error on our part.

Monday October 29, 7:30pm – reading – Gold Mountain Turtle Island


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.