18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

Lexwst’i:lem Drum Group. Photo: Heart of the City Festival/Mark Montgomery

Vancouver Moving Theatre in association with Carnegie Community Centre & the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians is thrilled to announce the 18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival!

As the Downtown Eastside community emerges from the pandemic, the Festival is excited to reconnect with our over sixty community partners, including Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, UBC Learning Exchange, Firehall Arts Centre, City Opera and KW Studios and many more.

This year’s festival theme, Stories We Need to Hear, resonates today as our community grapples with the dramatic impact of the pandemic, ongoing displacement, the fentanyl crisis, and the reality of bigotry and systemic racism.

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.” We take strength from the compelling lived wisdom and creativity of Downtown Eastside-involved artists and residents who illuminate the community’s vitality, relevance and resilience and its diverse and rich traditions, knowledge systems, ancestral languages, cultural roots and stories.

18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

Fancy Dancers. Photo: Heart of the City Festival/Terry Hunter

The 2021 Festival features twelve days of live and online events, including music, stories, poetry, theatre, ceremony, films, readings, forums, workshops, discussions, art talks, history talks, and visual art exhibitions; including the Art in the Streets program with surprise pop-up music and spoken word activities on sidewalks and small plazas throughout the historic district.

Selected events of the 2021 Festival include: Further We Rise Collective with Sacred Rock launch their two-year project Honouring Our Grandmothers Healing Journey with three days of ceremony, teachings and storytelling respecting Mother Earth. Includes a day with Wild Salmon Caravan and their cedar planting ceremony and giveaway; Festival Elder-in-Residence Kat Zucomul’wat Norris (Lyackson First Nation) returns with teaching and story sharing centred on colonization and resilience; Grace Eiko Thompson, esteemed elder and activist reads and talks about her book Chiru Sakura (Falling Cherry Blossoms), which chronicles her and her mother’s journey through racism, and Grace’s life-long advocacy for the rights of Canadians of Japanese ancestry; DTES Front & Centre: In Memory of Joyce Morgan, a community musical showcase honouring long-time and beloved Carnegie Community Centre volunteer and pianist Joyce Morgan; the 7th Symposium of Reconciliation and Redress in the Arts, coordinated and co-hosted by Irwin Oostindie explores decolonizing settler cultural policy in Vancouver and Canada; My Art Is Activism: Part III, Downtown Eastside resident Sid Chow Tan shares videos from his extraordinary archival collection that highlight Chinese Canadian social movements and direct action in Chinatown, particularly community media and redress for Chinese head tax and exclusion; Hearts Beat 2021, co-produced with Carnegie Indigenous Programs and UBC Learning Exchange, celebrates the shared traditions of drums, song and dance between Indigenous and Irish cultures; and 50 Years of Creative Collaboration: Terry Hunter & Savannah Walling, highlights the creative journey and artistic history of Vancouver Moving Theatre and Festival co-founding directors Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling.

18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

Sid Chow Tan. Photo: Heart of the City Festival/David Cooper

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.

Over 100 events throughout the Downtown Eastside and online
Tickets and Info: www.heartofthecityfestival.com


Vancouver Moving Theatre (VMT) is a Downtown Eastside arts organization co-founded (1983) by Terry Hunter (ED) and Savannah Walling (AD). VMT creates original, ground-breaking and accessible art that celebrates the power of the human spirit; bridges cultural traditions, social groups, and artistic disciplines; and leaves legacies for the future. VMT co-produces the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival, an annual flagship event that gives voice to the community’s low-income residents, cultural communities and historic neighbourhoods.


Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.

  • Insider Access

  • Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Watch us on YouTube


    Vancouver Event Calendar

    604 Neighbourhoods

    TED Host City