Top Picks for 2015

Top Picks – 12th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

With more than 90 events at over 25 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside scheduled over twelve days in this year’s Festival (October 28 – November 8), choosing what to see and hear becomes a delightful challenge. Here are a dozen exciting Top Festival Picks for the 2015 12th Annual Festival!

  1. A Celebration of the Carnegie Theatre The Carnegie Theatre, one of the most heavily used community spaces in the Downtown Eastside, recently underwent capital improvements. To celebrate the Carnegie Theatre and the completion of these improvements, the Carnegie Centre and the Festival invite you to mingle and socialize with an evening of music, jazz, spoken word and musical improvisation. The Carnegie Jazz Band returns with their finger snappin’, toe tappin’ and head boppin’ hot music under the wonderful tutelage of multi-instrumentalist and composer Brad Muirhead. And, for something new this year, Carnegie Jazz Combos will take the stage. Special guests: Idverb with a kaleidoscopic collage of spoken word and music performed by Brad Muirhead, Lisa Miller (piano), Chris Kelly (electronics), and with text by spoken-word artist Kedrick James.

Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Wednesday Oct 28, Carnegie Jazz Combos 6pm, Carnegie Jazz Band 7:30pm, Idverb with guest poets 8:30pm. Free 

Festival 14, Carnegie Jazz Band, long trombone, cleaned up - photo David Cooper - 479

  1. BOOK LAUNCH – ‘From the Heart of a City: Community Engaged Theatre and Music Productions from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: 2002-2013 The Festival is thrilled to partner with Playwrights Theatre Centre (PTC) to launch From the Heart of a City’, a beautifully-illustrated 210 page full-colour book by Vancouver Moving Theatre founders Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling, and designer John Endo Greenaway. ‘From the Heart’ sheds light on ten transformative productions created for, with, and about Vancouver’s inner-city. The evening features a conversation on ‘Theatre and Community’ and why the DTES is so rich in the arts, with book contributors James Fagan Tait, Ethel Whitty, Renae Morriseau and John Endo Greenaway, moderated by Heidi Taylor (PTC).

Playwrights Theatre Centre, 739 Gore 2nd floor. Thursday Oct 29, 7pm. Free 

  1. Beneath the Surface The Festival is honoured to partner with the native theatre company Imagi’Nation (AD, Jenifer Brousseau) and Templeton Secondary School to present Beneath the Surface, an original teen suicide prevention play developed in response to the tragic suicide of a young native student from Templeton Secondary. Performed by an all-native cast, the purpose of this powerful and moving presentation is, in the words of Jenifer Brousseau, ‘to educate youth [and community] and bring awareness and understanding on related topics about how to heal through art and live in optimal health.’  Talking circle to follow.

Templeton Secondary School, Theatre Temp, 727 Templeton. Friday October 30, 7pm. Pay as you can

  1. Stealing Light: Stories of Transformation Columpa Bobb
    In this remarkable solo show, Columpa C. Bobb (AD, Urban Indigenous Theatre, Winnipeg) enacts the story of a long-ago greedy chief who hoarded and would not share the life giving light of the stars, moon and sun. Raven stole these gifts from the power hungry chief and set them free for all people. Weaving stories and wisdom from her ancestors (Columpa is great-granddaughter of Chief Dan George) mixed with contemporary stories of the wounded earth today, she calls for Raven to once again steal the light.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall. Sunday Nov 1, 2pm. By donation to the Garden

  1. Barrio Flamenco: Flamenco for the People  Barrio Flamenco (1), pro and community, Heart Festival 2013, Mark Montgomery photo
    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, laughter and tears; full of pain yet also joy. Hosted by flamenco dancer and teacher Kelty McKerracher, Barrio Flamenco features some of the most compelling flamenco dancers, singers and musicians in the city, alongside the DTES Flamencos. This year Kelty hosts, direct from Spain, singer Naike Ponce, in her first Canadian appearance.An annual venue-packed favourite. “Ole!”

The Ironworks, 235 Alexander. Sunday Nov 1, 7pm. By donation at the door

  1. Culture Saves Lives: Feather Gallery Show and Auction Culture Saves Lives (Portland Hotel Society, lead Patrick Smith, community artist Larissa Healey) seeks to provide space for community members, especially First Nation people oppressed by the mechanisms of colonization, to rediscover and celebrate their roots. The Festival is honoured to support this vital program with the Culture Saves Lives: Feather Gallery Show and Auction, which features over 30 six-foot tall wood feathers uniquely painted by local Downtown Eastside involved residents, artists and organizations, then sold in auction. Funds raised will support future Cultural Saves Lives street level programs, the individual artists and contribute to a community memorial fund. Learn more at

InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings, entrance on Carrall. Wednesday Nov 4, 7pm. Free

  1. Michael Christie presents If I Fall, If I Die A night of writing, music and skateboarding! The Carnegie Branch of the Vancouver Public Library and the Festival are stoked to co-present local author Michael Christie for an interview and a reading from his first novel If I Fall, If I Die (2015). Hosted by the SBC Restaurant, located in the former Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret, now the home of the DTES Skateboard Society. Following the reading, the skateboard ramp will be open, so bring your board!

SBC Restaurant, 109 E. Hastings. Thursday Nov 5, 7:30pm. Free

  1. Against the Current A collaborative cross-cultural performance, Against the Current, is created by Chibi Taiko, Katari Taiko, Sansho Daiko, Sawagi Taiko and Vancouver Okinawan Taiko, with storyteller Rosemary Georgeson (Sahtu Dene/Coast Salish), Salish music ensemble Tzo’kam led by musician and composer Russell Wallace, narrative contributions by John Endo Greenway, Hiromi Goto and Savannah Walling, and over 25 Downtown Eastside community participants with community-made papier-mache salmon. Against the Current celebrates the role of salmon in Salish and Japanese history, culture, fishing industry, and their shared experience of resilience and swimming against the current.

Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, 487 Alexander. Friday Nov 6, 8pm. $15 regular, $10 concession at the door


  1. The Courage To Heal After their dynamite appearance at the Festival last year, we are fortunate to welcome back award-winning author and poet Queenie aka Valerie Mason-John and Bertha Clark aka Adelene da soul poet“If you’re feelin’ down, try laughing…tis medicine for your soul!” in an afternoon of poetic stories that resonate with audiences. Traumatic and abusive experiences are some of the main causes of addiction or living on the streets or in prison or in the mental health system, and it’s not surprising that it takes enormous courage to heal. Also appearing: author and teacher Reg Johanson, and Jillian Christmas, a Grand Slam Poetry Champion.

Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Saturday Nov 7, 3pm. Free

  1. An Evening with Dalannah Gail Bowen and Friends Downtown Eastside’s own Dalannah Gail Bowen has been music-making and an advocate for community for over 45 years. She has been an integral part of the DTES Heart of the City Festival since day one. Recently honoured as ‘Master Blues Artist’ in the Blues Hall of Fame, the Festival has the honour of presenting an evening devoted to Dalannah and her truly unique and powerful voice, described as ‘Billie Holiday meets Howlin’ Wolf’. The musical line-up is stellar: Simon Kendall on piano, Rene Worst on bass, Chris Nordquist on drums, Dave Say on saxophone, Jim Salmon on percussion, with backup singers Jessi Nicholson and Carlos Arias, and for the second half of the evening, Owen Owen Owen is on bass. Join Dalannah and friends for an evening of blues, jazz and gospel; not to be missed!

Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. Saturday Nov 7, 8pm. $10 regular/$5 concession at the door

  1. Amazing, Brave and Extraordinary Women in the Downtown Eastside – walk led by Ellen Woodsworth From a national memorial to social enterprise, take a walk that explores the stories of extraordinary women who have contributed to improved quality of life for women in the DTES. Ellen Woodsworth, a speaker, writer, activist and former Vancouver City councilor, is passionate about social justice, economic equality and environmentally sound planning. This walk was originally organized in the spring for Jane’s Walk by Women Transforming Cities. Learn more at

Meet at Thornton Park, 1150 Station Street. Sunday Nov 8, 10:30am. $10, pay what you can for local residents 

  1. Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper 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 Dovbush Dancers. Special guests include, among others, Vancouver’s home-grown Balkan Brass band Orkestar Slivovica playing an extravaganza of passionate and energetic Roma-style festive music. Immediately following the concert is the always-delicious traditional Ukrainian Supper.

Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. Sunday Nov 8, Concert 3pm, Supper follows. $25. For advance tickets contact 604-254-3436

Festival 14, AUUC Concert, Dovbush Dancers, C Randle photo_2200_cropped