No Eastside love for the Cultural Olympiad

Coming up in March, a Downtown Eastside art show has a simple message to share. Fuck the Cultural Olympiad.

Artists and community activists have come together to criticise the 2009 Cultural Olympiad.

Artists and community activists have joined forces against the 2009 Cultural Olympiad.

Yes, the folks organizing Art and Anarchy aren’t ones to mince words. They are joining a larger cultural front against the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Street performer and anti-poverty activist David Cunningham is one of many A&A artists concerned with the “socially-cleansed” cultural aesthetic churned out by Olympic promoters.

Cunningham and a growing group of anti-authoritarian artists aim to criticize the Olympiad for it’s use of community art to “disguise capitalist plunder.”

Beginning Friday March 13 and running until the 19th, the basement of the historic Tellier Towers (located at 16 East Hastings) will be the site of radical theatre and art exhibition.

I certainly plan to check it out.

Opening night begins at 8 pm, and continues between 3 and 8 pm through the rest of the week. Photo courtesy of Roland.


Rockin’ for Insite, again

A poster promoting Rock for Insite 2, as seen outside Red Cat Records.

A poster promoting Rock for Insite 2, as seen outside Red Cat Records.

Just in case you’re not there already:

Matt Camirand (of Black Mountain fame) is performing at yet another concert supporting Insite, Vancouver’s one-and-only supervised injection site. This time, the full-day event (which actually started at 1:00 pm today) is happening at the Railway Club on the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour.

The lineup features a varied assortment of local staples and up-and-comers, including Swank, Orchid Highway, The Get Down, Bocephus King, D.Trevlon, Maria in the Shower, Invasives, The Furies, The Modelos, Eldorado, CR Avery, and the Pack A.D. 

Tickets are $18 at the door. 

The event follows a December 6 concert held at the street corner of Main and Hastings, where Black Mountain and frontman of Bedouin Soundclash Jay Malinowski performed. Whereas the last effort had more of a protest vibe, this one seems more like a fundraiser.

$2.5 million Cultural Olympiad invades the Eastside

Vancouver-based musician Matt Good thinks Olympic money would be much better spent on poverty relief in the Downtown Eastside.

He’s certainly not alone. With a crumbling world economy, growing city debt and increasingly visible street poverty, it’s no surprise many Vancouver residents are reconsidering their support for the two-week, $6 billion event.

But despite extensive criticism, the Olympic machine keeps on rolling. To remind us all of the inevitable 2010 Games (or perhaps convince us this whole shebang is really worthwhile) the folks at VANOC have launched a seven-week cultural festival.

The 2009 Cultural Olympiad kicked off with a Chinese New Year celebration throughout the streets of Chinatown, Feb. 1.

The 2009 Cultural Olympiad officially began February 1 with a Chinese New Year celebration.

Yes, the 2009 Cultural Olympiad is upon us, which boasts over 400 events spanning from February 1 to March 21. Many Canadian musicians have been scheduled to appear (including Chad VanGaalen, Hawksley Workman, Broken Social Scene, Tegan and Sara, Joel Plaskett and of course Sarah McLachlan) as well as a wide variety of art, dance and theatre exhibitions.

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Inner city blues (and greens and reds and yellows)

Hey internet, meet Richard Tetrault.

Community Walls/Community Voices spans 500 feet of Commercial Drive

Community Walls/Community Voices spans 500 feet of Commercial Drive

Tetrault is a painter, printmaker and muralist who has worked in the Downtown Eastside for more than thirty years. Like me, he digs public art. Unlike me, he is an incredibly skilled artist and has painted on some prominent buildings in places like Traxcala Mexico, Oakland California, and Tucuman Argentina.

(Coincidentally, he also contributed to an enormous mural in my hometown).

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Lives Were Around Me (and David McIntosh, too)

What is theatre without a stage?

Well, in the case of David McIntosh’s latest creation Lives Were Around Me, it’s a one-of-a-kind guided exploration of history and storytelling in Vancouver’s historic city centre. Every Tuesday until the end of February, three audience members at a time are invited to reconsider their understanding of the Downtown Eastside and beyond.


David McIntosh invites a small audience to reconsider Vancouver's history in Lives Were Around Me

The show is hosted by Battery Opera, inspired by James Kelman‘s novel Translated Accounts, and performed by Adrienne Wong, Paul Ternes, Aleister Murphy, and (of course) the city itself. I asked McIntosh a few questions about his sold-out show.

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What’s in a zine?

It’s tough getting your ideas immortalized in print.

Between heavy-handed editors, corporate publishers, and uncertain distribution (not to mention a less-than-booming economy) sharing the printed word has become an uphill battle for even the most affluent authors.

But while media monoliths like Time Warner continue to disseminate People Magazine by the truckload—reaching a weekly circulation of 3.75 million—on the opposite end of the spectrum there are zines. Often armed with some paper, a stapler, and a public photocopier, zine makers (affectionately known as zinesters) publish tales from the fringes, often reaching the eyes of less than 100 viewers.

Yes, zines have contributed to unique small-scale conversations in the Downtown Eastside and around the world without the help of glossy stock, colour ink or even a functioning typewriter in some cases. And while the zine phenomenon isn’t exactly cutting-edge in 2009, it is new to the Vancouver Public Library catalogue.

More than 500 local and international zines are now available at the Vancouver Public Library.

More than 500 local and international zines are now available at the Vancouver Public Library.

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Gallery Gachet has art and soul

If creative expression has the power to heal the mind and soul, then Gallery Gachet is bringing art to the place it’s needed most.

Gallery Gachet promotes mental health through creative expression.

Gallery Gachet promotes mental health through creative expression.

At the corner of Columbia and East Cordova Street, the electric blue community gallery hosts a wide range of alternative art, from feminist performance to bicycle decorations.

But the heritage building provides much more than a set of white walls to hang artwork. First and foremost, Gallery Gachet is a creative community devoted to addressing mental health issues in the Downtown Eastside and throughout Vancouver.

Named after Vincent Van Gough’s homeopathic doctor, Gallery Gachet offers workshops and other supportive programming to those who are marginalized from society due to mental illness, trauma and abuse. From woodworking and sculpture to video editing and digital photography, these workshops aim to give agency to some of society’s most vulnerable members.

It’s initiatives like this that truly make me smile.

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