Vancouver, BC, unceded Coast Salish Territory: a place of overwhelming natural beauty and deep webs of community. Wedged between the Pacific and the Coastal Mountains, this peninsular city is a bastion for the creative industries. Although it rains a lot and it certainly isn’t the tropics, when the sun shines Vancouver sparkles. The history of this area is rich and deep; starting with indigenous peoples who first inhabited the land, it later became the birthplace of Greenpeace, as well as the place where Jimi Hendrix visited one of the founders of the first black church in Vancouver — his grandmother. Here there is great wealth amid great poverty, both existing in close proximity. The Downtown Eastside is a reminder of social and economic disparities present in a city that also holds the most expensive real estate in Canada. Yet it remains a neighbourhood with deep bonds and connection.
While the arts, like so many things, seem dwarfed by the majesty of Vancouver’s surrounding mountains and ocean, this port city is in fact home to a thriving and well-supported arts community. Between venues like the Fox Cabaret on Main Street, Guilt and Co. in Gastown, and The Rickshaw on East Hastings, the live music needs of any aficionado should be covered. Community arts are also huge in this town, including such events as Vancouver Moving Theatre’s annual The Heart of the City Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts festival with dozens of offerings. In a rare move for a public institution, Vancouver Public Library even offers recording studios as a recording option for local musicians. It is just one of many examples of how artists are valued here.
To someone passing through, Vancouver may at times appear like a pristine film set, glittery and shallow on the surface, but upon closer inspection this place — and its people — are undergirded by complexity and depth. We hope you enjoy some of that richness in this issue.
~ Khari Wendell McClelland