Creations that harkened to the past, celebrated Vancouver and its cultures and sparked audiences' imaginations marked 2011.
The Museum of Vancouver drew visitors to Kits Point for SweaterLodge, a gigantic, cozy orange fleece jacket, the sounds and stories of bhangra in Metro Vancouver with Bhangra. me, and the buzz of controversy and light with Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver.
While the museum featured bhangra past and present, a new arts extravaganza that aims to increase the cultural traffic between Canada and India came to town in the form of Indian Summer Festival, which explored the tastes, sights and sounds of Indian film, literature, food, dance, music and yoga.
With Vancouver's 125th anniversary came extra arts funding and community events. Thousands flocked to Stanley Park to take in idyllic days and nights of free concerts, artfully lit trees and activities for kids during July's Summer Live.
Some found themselves stepping into other's shoes to explore places and narratives with Neworld Theatre's PodPlays, where audiences strolled specific paths while intimate stories unfolded.
Visitors to battery opera's M/HOTEL, which was recently mounted in a bland downtown hotel room, also experienced intimate pieces written for that in-between accommodation, with plenty of space provided for reflection and interpretation.
Reflection was ripe with historical spotlights at DOXA, the city's documentary film festival, which included a mix of short docs from the 1960s and 1980s. Writer Tony Correia chronicled the gay days of the now defunct Doll and Penny's Café on Davie Street. Both young and old actors and musicians conjured the African-Canadian history of Vancouver's East End, or Strathcona, in two separate events that celebrated Black History Month. And Vanessa Richmond shone the spotlight on the history of Caribbean culture in Metro Vancouver with a recent show at the Performing Arts Lodge called Skins and Steel.
The drum for more venues for emerging bands and all-ages audiences was beat once again with Jonathan Fluevog, son of the shoe baron, staging a music festival at the Vancouver Alpen Club on Victoria Drive near East 33rd Avenue. Proponents of the local independent music scene started a Friday night series that cost five bucks to see three acts at the British Ex-Servicemen's Association on Kingsway near Knight.
Creative types and their supporters pursued new ways of finding money with a Vancouver Film School student/TV producer wannabe seeking popularity via social media to attract money for his web series, and volunteers organizing a luncheon where diners decided which of three East Side artists would receive $1,000, the proceeds of admission.
Here's hoping the provincial government will restore arts funding in the New Year that allows the reflective and dreamers among us make our city a much more interesting and inspiring place.
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