Top Festival Picks – 9th Annual DTES Heart of the City Festival



With more than 80 events at over 20 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside scheduled over twelve days in this year’s Festival (October 24 – November 4), choosing what to see and hear becomes a delightful challenge. Here is our thrilling Top 14 Festival Picks for 2012!

  1. Singing History: An evening of songs to celebrate the history of the Downtown Eastside community and its fight for human rights. Hear the uplifting voices and harmonies of Songtree, Quatro, The Diggers, Gathering Place Choir, Solidarity Notes Labour Choir and more! Led by Musical Director Earle Peach.
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Wed Oct 24, 7:30pm. Free
    Click for photo and video coverage of this event.
  2. Howling Comedy: The Heart of the City Festival is tickled silly to present an evening of clowning and stand up comedy that celebrates the resilience and diversity of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The lineup features comics from Stand Up for Mental Health and founder David Granirer, along with the wild and hilarious Sam Bob, Canadian comedy legend Gina Bastone, and local favourite Muriel Williams. What’s so funny about mental health? Let’s find out!
    Gallery Gachet, 88 E. Cordova. Thurs Oct 25, 7pm. Free
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  3. Festival Art Stroll: In the tradition of gallery crawls, the Festival presents its’ first Art Stroll to community galleries. This special event starts with a sidewalk procession led by Brad Muirhead and the Hastings Street Band and travels to Gallery Gachet for the opening reception of the Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show, and then from 6pm to 9pm, six more community focused galleries in the neighbourhood open their doors.
    Oppenheimer Park, 488 Powell. Fri Oct 26, Procession starts 5:30pm. Free
    Click here for photo and video coverage of the Procession
    Click here for photo and video coverage of the Art Show
  4. Barrio Flamenco: Flamenco for the People: Celebrate the spirit of the Downtown Eastside with an unforgettable night 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. The evening features some of the most compelling flamenco artists in the city, hosted by Kelty McKerracher.
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Fri Oct 26, 7:30pm. Free
    Click here for photo and video coverage of this event.
  5. Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside: A short film by Alejandro Zuluaga and Harsha Walia, based on a concept by the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group. Join the filmmakers and participants for a screening of a film that focuses on the voices of women who live, love, and work in the Downtown Eastside, and celebrates the complex and diverse realities of women organizing for justice.
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Sat Oct 27, 4pm. Free
  6. Film, Talk, Unplugged: Joe Keithley and Bloodied But Unbowed: Vancouver filmmaker Susanne Tabata’s documentary Bloodied But Unbowed tells a tale of rebellion and music – a chronicle of the late 1970s/early 1980s Vancouver punk rock scene. Following the screening, Joe Keithley, Canada’s godfather of punk and founder and lead guitarist of Vancouver punk band D.O.A., will participate in a Q & A and perform solo unplugged. A fabulous evening, as Joe says, to talk “about the good days in the future.”
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Sat Oct 27, Film 7:45pm, Performance 9pm. Free
    Click here for photo and video coverage of this event.
  7. The Festival is thrilled to feature Evelyn Lau, City of Vancouver Poet Laureate at two festival events:
    1. Dream of Words: Poetry and Music: In the charmed setting of the Classical Chinese Garden, the Festival is delighted to present a jewel of an afternoon concert with Evelyn Lau, poet and historian Jim Wong-Chu, and Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault of Silk Road Music.
      Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. Sun Oct 28, 2pm. By donation to the Garden
      Click for photo and video coverage of this event.
    2. Eat Rice, Talk Story: Local Chinese Canadian writers including Bob Sung, Larry Wong, Steven Wong and Evelyn Lau share food and stories that celebrate the sharing of food and the nurturing of community. “The best medicine is socializing with family and friends.”
      Chinese Cultural Centre Museum, 555 Columbia. Tues Oct 30, 7:30pm. Free
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  8. The Wayne Lavallee Band: The unique fusion of Wayne Lavallee’s folk/rock acoustic style with traditional Cree chanting has made this West Coast artist an in demand performer whose work is fresh and innovative. A Juno nominee and award-winning musician, this is a great opportunity for Vancouver audiences to hear Wayne with his full band.
    InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings. Sun Oct 28, 7:30pm. Free
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  9. TinPan Chef: A Cooking Competition and Food Forum: Six chefs, three teams, six hotplates, three boxes from the FoodBank, one hour! TinPan Chef is a cooking competition and food forum that uses sealed food boxes from the FoodBank to draw attention to the challenges of maintaining a healthy diet on a limited income. Diane Brown of the One Pot Cookbook leads the team, with judges from the community scoring the dishes for taste, appearance and creativity.
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Mon Oct 29, 12:30pm. Free
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  10. Building: a Social Writing Evening: Join the Downtown Eastside’s exciting Thursdays Writing Collective directed by Elee Kraljii Gardiner for a raucous social writing session of creative writing prompts based on architectural and poetic space. Geist magazine has said the Thursdays Writing Collective is “the biggest, boldest, and by far the most vital conspiracy of writers operating in Vancouver at present.” Participants will have the opportunity to share what they’ve written.
    Dunlevy Snackbar, 433 Dunlevy. Thurs Nov 1, 7pm. Free
  11. DTES Front and Centre: Ballads, Blues & Rock ‘n Roll: An exciting evening of original ballads and blues, and favourite rock ‘n roll tunes; featuring members of the Downtown Eastside community and regulars of the Carnegie Music program including Patrick Foley, Mike Richter, Corinthian Clark, Darren Morgan, Stan Hudac, and Dalannah Gail Bowen.
    Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Fri Nov 2, 7:30pm. Free
  12. Kutz & Dawgs, a new Hip Hop Musical: Inspired by the story lines of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, culturally and socially diverse youth cast members in collaboration with professional artists created an original hip hop musical. In this thought-provoking work, the young performers portray rivalling Kutz (alley cats) and Dawgs (junkyard dogs) in a cautionary tale that explores the destructive force of gang violence. Artistic Director Elaine Carol directed and co-wrote the script with original music by composers Paul BrayNdidi Cascade and Cris Derkson, choreography by Dianna David and fight choreography by David Bloom.
    Russian Hall, 600 Campbell, Friday November 2, 8pm. Sliding scale $5 – $20
  13. Dal Richards Combo & Carnegie Jazz Band with special guests: The legendary Dal Richards Combo kicks of this evening of hot jazz; followed by the Carnegie Jazz Band, the Downtown Eastside’s enthusiastic amateur jazz band under the wonderful tutelage of multi-instrumentalist and composer Brad Muirhead. Joining the Carnegie Jazz Band is special guest vocalist Dalannah Gail Bowen and Juno award winning trombonist Hugh Fraser. Bring your dancing shoes!
    Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. Sat Nov 3, 8pm. Sliding scale $2 – $20
    Click for photos and video coverage of this event.
  14. Ukrainian Hall’s Community Concert, Supper & Community Dance: The festival ends on a high note with three special events on one day at the Ukrainian Hall. Start your afternoon with the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians Community Concert, featuring the Barvinok Choir, the Vancouver Folk Orchestra and the Dovbush Dancers. Lively music, invigorating dance and colourful costumes beckon us. Special guests include Axe Capoeira with dynamic Brazilian dances and percussion; brilliant spoken word artist Zaccheus Jackson; and a thrilling aural treat of gamelan, bagpipes and Ukrainian singing with Mearingstone and guests. Immediately after the concert is a delicious traditional Ukrainian Supper, followed by the Community Dance with the musical fun of Russell Shumsky (marimba, percussion), Bud Kurz (guitar), Kathleen Nisbet (fiddle) and dance caller Marlin Prowell. Grab your friends, neighbours, the whole family, and head on down to this toe-tappin’ heartwarming event.
    Click for photos and video coverage of this event.
    Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. Sun Nov 4, Concert 3pm, Supper follows. $20
    For advance sales contact 604-254-3436.
    Dance 7:30pm, pay what you can
    Click for photos and video coverage of the Community Dance.


Most events are free or by suggested donation.

The 2012 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, VanCity Savings, 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:

Posted in Top Picks.