The 17th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is returning October 28 – November 8, 2020.
With more than 50 events scheduled over 12 days throughout the Downtown Eastside and online, the Festival plenty of cultural events and artistic activities for everyone to enjoy in whatever way they feel comfortable.
This year, more than ever, Downtown Eastside residents and artists seek opportunities the Heart of the City Festival offers for cultural exchange and to get together. The Festival is here to ensure that the community and artists are supported during these challenging times. Due to circumstances of the pandemic, this year’s Festival has been reimagined with programming mostly online and outdoors.
The 2020 Festival theme, This Gives Us Strength, resonates today as the community copes with a worldwide pandemic, physical distancing, ongoing displacement, the fentanyl crisis, and the raw realities of bigotry and systemic racism.
Taking strength from the compelling creativity of Downtown Eastside-involved artists and residents who illuminate the vitality, relevance and resilience of the Downtown Eastside community and its diverse and rich traditions, knowledge systems, ancestral languages, cultural roots and stories. In the words of late DTES poet Sandy Cameron, “When we tell our stories we draw our own maps, and question the maps of the powerful. Each of us has something to tell, something to teach.”
The 2020 Festival features twelve days of online and pop-up outdoor events, including music, stories, poetry, ceremony, films, readings, forums, workshops, discussions, art talks, history talks and visual art exhibitions. Feature events include: Dalannah Gail Bowen (Blues Hall of Fame), Downtown Eastside resident and blues queen; Jenifer Reads (Imagi’NATION Collective), an episode from an online series of readings of heroic coming-of-age stories for youth hosted by Jenifer Brousseau; the Sandy Cameron Memorial Writing Contest, an annualevent that celebrates the creative writing of Downtown Eastside-involved residents; and In the Beginning, co-presented by Firehall Arts Centre and Vancouver Moving Theatre, storyteller, filmmaker, and performer Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Dene) joins director Donna Spencer as they delve into the stories and history of local Indigenous peoples prior to and during colonization. Over the evolving five events, Georgeson and Spencer are joined by Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh homelands; and from up the rivers, across the waters and from the other side of the mountains. Stories of the land, told by the people of the land.
The Festival also welcomes the return of Khari Wendell McClelland (The Sojourners/Freedom Singer) as Artist-in-Residence. Among his activities, Khari is curating Spotlight on the East End, a special online presentation that profiles a diverse and exciting line-up of local musicians.
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. The festival involves professional, community, emerging and student artists, and lovers of the arts.
The Heart of the City Festival runs October 28 to November 8, 2020 at various venues in the Downtown Eastside and online. Tickets and registrations are now available online at heartofthecityfestival.com