45th Powell Street Festival

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Known as the largest Japanese Canadian art and culture event in the country, the Powell Street Festival Society (“PSFS”) is adapting to public health restrictions and revamping its programming this summer. Festival-goers can stay bubble-safe yet connected to the historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood for the annual festival celebration on July 31 and August 1, 2021.

45th Powell Street Festival

45th Powell Street Festival

The 45th Powell Street Festival offers an array of on-demand creative works, on-location performances, DIY workshops, and community-building activities. There will be no large public gathering event. The festival website will be the hub for programming throughout July, culminating in a critical mass of activity during the BC Day Long Weekend.

“We are prioritizing community connection,” says Executive Director Emiko Morita. “In consultation with our stakeholders, we’re supporting our grassroots groups to create self-sufficient, accessible interactions and resources. Martial artists, Japanese folk singers, actors, poets, musicians and dancers will host bubble-safe programs through the internet and/or in person, these events will then reverberate through photographs, YouTube videos, or Zoom virtual gatherings. Follow #PowellStFest to witness this high velocity of activity.”

The on demand content includes a showcase of local and international artist collaborations that PSFS commissioned specifically for digital consumption, including:

  • Dub This Road is an innovative musical meeting of British hapa singer and recording artist Denise Sherwood and Vancouver’s Sawagi Taiko and Onibana Taiko, featuring a special mix and mash by legendary dub reggae producer Adrian Sherwood, masterminded by Vancouver artist Don Chow.
  • Ritual-Spective 迴融 is an online experimental media art collaboration between Kazuma Glen Motomura カズマ・グレン 本村一真, Berlin/Tokyo based Japanese and South African experimental dance artist, and Sammy Chien 簡上翔, Vancouver/Taipei based Taiwanese-Canadian interdisciplinary artist. The project seeks to investigate the intergenerational dialogue on artistic, cultural and spiritual legacy, as a ritual of honouring the past, by listening, learning and processing, then re-integrate them to what is the here and now.
  • Composer and singer Jody Okabe works with producer Rup Singh and film director Aya Garcia to create an experimental electronic wave pop exploration that dives into the depths of the human and supernatural experience. Lending their voices to hold the space between ancient futures by honouring the gifts of their ancestors. 
  • Based in Vancouver, dance artist Shion Skye Carter and calligraphy artist Kisyuu create work that adapts traditional and contemporary art forms, and celebrates their shared Japanese heritage while embracing new media art forms. Originally premiered as a video at Powell Street Festival in 2020, the new iteration of Flow Tide expands the artists’ exploration to the shoreline of Spanish Banks. There will be a live performance and a video edition.
  • From the Prairies to the Pacific Rim is an auditory experience from amiskwaciwâskahikan to the Salish Sea. The listener is invited to join this immersive poetic soundscape and conversation with artist-activist-poets Rita Wong, Emily Riddle, Sacha Ouellet, and E. Hiroko Isomura to journey downriver, deepening connections to language, land, waterways, and one another, along the way.

There are also opportunities to visit the Powell Street neighbourhood, including the socially distanced activities:

  • Community Food Groups will offer a menu of festival favourites that can be pre-ordered for scheduled pick-ups at the Festival Depot, Vancouver Buddhist Temple (220 Jackson Avenue), July 31 and August 1.
  • Japanese crafts and merchandise will also be available for pick-up at the Festival Depot through a partnership with Japan Market, July 31 and August 1.
  • Randall Okita’s Book of Distance, an animated immersive film that places the viewer inside the context of Okita’s grandfather Yonezo Okita’s life during the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II, can be experienced at the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall (VJLS, 475 Alexander Street), July 28 to August 1, registration required.
  • 360 Riot Walk guided tours will be offered in Cantonese, Punjabi, Japanese and English, July 24, 25, 31 and August 1.
  • Tasai Collective will offer an immersive poetry/music installation at VJLS’s Japanese Hall, July 31.
  • Durational Taiko Drumming from the rooftop of VJLS will be heard from the neighbouring streets and can be view as a live stream. Details to be confirmed.
  • *Note Advance registration is required for most events.

There will be online workshops and more! For the latest updates and announcements, follow the festival on Facebook.

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1 Comment  —  Add a Comment Below

  1. Dave OlsonTuesday, June 15th, 2021 — 6:26am PDT

    Our family will try to engage in some of the goodness from Japan (we watched Jean-Claude’s video from a previous year / goodtimes)

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