Cultural Calendar

I hope everyone had a great Family Day this past weekend! As winter winds down and spring creeps in, get ready for a burst of excitement. Vancouver is gearing up for some awesome events. From the Vancouver International Dance Festival to the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, plus tons of live music and theatre, there’s so much to dive into and check out. It’s the perfect time to soak up Vancouver’s cool culture and community vibe!

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Gwenessa Lam: The Articulate Object

Until April 7

The Articulate Object considers a particular Chinese legend, where objects become key players in blurring the lines between historical fact and fiction. The legend of Fusang is a 7th Century tale describing the travels of a Buddhist monk, Hui shen, along the coast of the Americas in the latter part of the 5th Century. Fusang was the name given to the land where Hui shen had travelled. There is little historical and archaeological evidence of the monk’s journey; however, there have been claims that a few ancient Chinese urns and coins were found off the coast of British Columbia. Amateur archaeologists have used these findings as proof of early encounters between Indigenous and Chinese communities related to Fusang. As an artist of Chinese heritage raised in British Columbia, Lam is interested in these reports, even if speculative. The Articulate Object builds on these narratives through a series of drawings and photographs examining the documentation of these found artifacts.

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A Lens on Vancouver’s Past: Walter Frost’s Arctic Explorers

Feb. 15–April 30

The Port of Vancouver’s South Shore served as homeport for many of the vessels that have and continue to explore the Western Arctic, trade with its indigenous peoples, extract the Arctic’s natural resources, transit the Northwest Passage and project Canada’s sovereignty over the North from Herschel Island (Qikirtarjuaq) in the Yukon Territory to the Arctic Archipelago which comprises most of Nunavut. In a new exhibition East Van photographer Walter Frost’s select black-and-white photos of ships illustrating Vancouver’s pivotal role in the establishment of Canada’s presence and sovereignty in the Arctic will be on display at the City of Vancouver Archives. The gallery had been updated to reflect Frost’s photos of some of the vessels that have called Vancouver home or visited the port. They range in size from small wooden-hulled ships like the RCMP Schooner St. Roch to the Hudson’s Bay Company’s cargo steamer SS Baychimo, the heavy icebreaker CCGS John A. Macdonald and huge bulk carriers such as the MV Dordrecht.

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B.C. Heritage Week

Feb. 19–25

Heritage is the layering of stories that describe the uniqueness of a community’s past and present while informing the future. Heritage Week is an annual event that takes place during the third full week in February. It celebrates and showcases local heritage across the province. This year’s Heritage Week: Layer by Layer, invites you to dig deeper into your community’s past and explore the many layers and stories that your unique community holds. Take some time this week to learn something new about the many “layers” of the place you call home. Check out their website for full details.

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Sunrise Betties

Feb. 21–March 10

Sunrise Betties. | Photo courtesy of Instazoo.

The Betties. A fiercely loyal, all-female street gang run by a ruthless matriarch. They operate a small-time drug trafficking operation out of the basement of her home. Sometimes the cat gets in the way. When the Betties accidentally start a turf war with a prominent mobster, a corrupt VPD officer shows up offering an easy way out. But this is East Van in 1972. And there’s no such thing as an easy way out. Inspired by the street gang crisis of the era –
and the infamous Clark Park Gang – Sunrise Betties is a work of historical fiction revealing a sordid part of Vancouver’s history few know about. It explores the origins of drug trafficking and police corruption in the once notorious – and rapidly gentrifying – area. Check out the website for tickets and more information.

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2024 Winter Arts Festival

Feb. 22–27

Winter Arts Festival is a celebration of light, art and storytelling, featuring sculptures, projection mapping, augmented reality (AR) and live performances. The festival was launched in 2021 at the height of the pandemic. As Canada’s first-ever augmented reality festival, it received critical acclaim, including the IDA Award of Excellence. The festival continues to evolve with the addition of new public art and light installations, tours, pop-up parties and an all-ages Hub featuring art, a licensed bar and free daily live entertainment. The festival seeks to light up our city and connect diverse communities through meaningful art and inclusive experiences that reflect its many stories and cultures.

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Vox.Infold II at MOTHER CLOUD, Spatial Sound Festival

Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Ruby Singh’s Vox.Infold is an a cappella offering, composed and (remarkably) recorded at a time when singing together was something that could kill us. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst potent social unrest, this powerhouse vocal ensemble of Indigenous, Inuit, Black and South Asian voices, reimagined how to sing together. The resulting work is so much more than a convergence of diverse vocal traditions but a complex rendering of what’s possible when we can hold each other’s humanity. The album dives into a full bodied, resonant and sensuous expression housed in polyrhythm, lush harmonies, mimicry and polyphonic poetry. The resulting sonic landscape encompasses a non-linear journey in which we may find and care for each other.

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Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Feb. 23–March 3

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival will celebrate their 27th anniversary with a specially curated program that features both in-person and online options. They’ve lined up accomplished guest speakers, engaging workshops and panel discussions and films about climbing, snowsports, adventure, mountain culture, the environment and more! There will be numerous World, North American and Canadian Premieres, showcasing powerful stories that will inspire your next adventure. For a complete list of films, check out the festival’s website.

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Feb. 28–May 5

Ross Penhall, Summer Walk, 2007, etching on paper, 14 x 14 in. Collection of Artists for Kids and the Gordon Smith Gallery. | Photo courtesy of Ross Penhall.

What story does a pathway tell? How do paths connect us? Paths, on display at the Evergreen Cultural Centre starting Feb. 28, features artwork by 22 Canadian artists exploring paths, both real and imagined, through the mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, collage and printmaking. The exhibited works show us that a path can be used to communicate a direction, a line of thought or a plan for action. Paths can also be seen in representations of the natural world, taking the form of forest trails, migratory patterns, maps and waterways, as well as within our built environment. We can find pathways through abstraction by exploring gesture, pattern, line and form and we can seek our own paths of understanding through personal journeys and the creative process.

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Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt

Feb. 29–March 3

Isabelle Eberhardt (1877–1904): explorer, nomad, journalist, novelist, Sufi. A passionate romantic and one of the most adventurous women of her era or any other, Isabelle Eberhardt was unique. At age twenty, after the death of her mother, brother and father, she left her life in Switzerland for a nomadic and unfettered existence in the deserts of North Africa. She traveled extensively through the desert on horseback, often dressed as a man, relentlessly documenting her travels through detailed journals. At age twenty-seven Isabelle drowned in a flash flood in the desert. Playing at The Cultch, Song from the Uproar uses texts inspired by her writing to immerse the audience in the surreal landscapes of Isabelle’s life; she describes the death of her family, the thrill of her arrival in Africa, her tentative joy at falling in love, the elation of self-discovery and the mystery of death.

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Coastal Dance Festival

March 1–3

Dancers of Damelahamid will host their annual Coastal Dance Festival, honouring Indigenous stories, song and dance from the Northwest Coast, Canada and around the world, from March 1–3, at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. The Festival is a celebration of the stories, songs and dances of the Indigenous peoples with guest national and international artists. For more information, please visit their website.