Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

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The 19th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival is twelve days of live and online events including music, stories, poetry, theatre, ceremony, films, dance, readings, forums, workshops, discussions, gallery exhibits, art talks, history talks and history walks!

Heart of The City - Marissa Nahanee Photo by David Cooper
Heart of The City – Marissa Nahanee Photo by David Cooper

Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

  • When: Wednesday, October 26 to Sunday, November 6, 2022
  • Where: Various venues in the DTES
  • Full schedule TBA, registration will be on the website in early October

Guided by the theme Community Is Our Mentor, this year’s festival will focus on listening and learning from the lived wisdom and cultural practices of Downtown Eastside community organizations, artists and cultural circles; and engaging the transformative power of story, song, music, film, theatre, dance, visual arts and ceremony to illuminate pathways of resistance and resilience.

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.  

Festival Highlights

‘The Gathering’ Mural Launch
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 4:00pm (Free)
Carnegie Community Centre Theatre, 401 Main
A stunning tryptic mural created in 2016 by Richard Tetrault is expanding with an additional seven new panels by Tetrault, Charlene Johnny, Marissa Nahanee and Jerry Whitehead. The Gathering Mural hangs in the Carnegie Theatre during the Festival and pays tribute to past and present DTES artists and activists, and to the diverse cultures and heritage of the Downtown Eastside. Meet the artists and hear the inspiring story behind the artists and activists in this extraordinary mural.

Honouring Our Grandmothers Healing Journey – Keeping the Fires Burning
Two weeks of art, ceremony, teachings and storytelling honour lived experiences and legacies of Indigenous grandmothers past and present who traveled to the Downtown Eastside from the BC Interior. Launched at last year’s festival, this multi-year, multi-generational project brings together Interior Salish and Coast Salish peoples with nations connected to the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, mountains and salmon. Artist Producer Nadine Spence’s painted cedar chest honours her Nlaka’pamux and Secwepemc grandmothers who died in the Downtown Eastside. The public is invited to place messages for their ancestors, land and waters into a travelling community message chest created by artists of different nationalities with historic relationships with Indigenous peoples. Through arts and ceremony, Honouring Our Grandmothers brings together family and residents who work to restore relationships between generations and communities.

Intangible Treasures of the Downtown Eastside
Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 7:00pm (Free)
Online, registration info on Festival website early October
Also available in Carnegie Viewing Room, 401 Main
(Zoom Shadow Two), an online collection of short evocative shadow plays created on Zoom by seven Downtown Eastside involved residents who explore personal intangible treasures that give them strength.

IronFest III
November 3-5, 2022 at The Ironworks, 235 Alexander
Tickets on sale September 27 via Coastal Jazz, $25 including service fees
A three-night series of bands and improvised music combining a diverse cast of international and local musicians, including artists connected to the Downtown Eastside community and cultures.

Housing Justice with SRO Tenants, an interactive dialogue and film screening in collaboration with The Right to Remain Research Collective and filmmaker Eliot Galán, showcasing SRO (Single Room Occupancy) tenant researchers whose stories prompt moments of collective learning. Audiences are invited to share in the vision of transitional strategies for affordable, safe and healthy housing.

The Prop Master’s Dream
Saturday November 5 at 2:00pm & 7:00pm
Annex Theatre, 823 Seymour St
Tickets $35-$45 available online
A new fusion opera produced by Vancouver Cantonese Opera inspired by the extraordinary true-life story of Wah-Kwan Gwan (1929-2000), a little-known Chinese Opera props master born to a local Chinese father and Indigenous mother.

Honouring Writers of the Downtown Eastside
Saturday, November 5 at 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm & 7:00pm (Free)
Carnegie Community Centre Theatre, 401 Main
Celebrating writers and poets past and present who mentor the community with their powerful thoughts, words, ideas, support and encouragement. The Carnegie Newsletter will hold the Sandy Cameron Memorial Writing Contest & Award Ceremony to honour and recognize poets of today; the Festival will honour poets who have passed before us, including: Sandy Cameron, Bud Osborn, Jim Wong Chu, Robyn Livingstone, Muriel Marjorie, Lee Maracle, Joan Morelli, dn simmers, Wayson Choy, and Kat Zucomulwat Norris (Festival Elder in Residence, 2017 – 2022).

And many more to come! Follow the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival on Facebook for the latest news and event updates when the full schedule is released.

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