This DTES cardboard art event takes you into the dark to help you see the light


cardboard darkroom
Photo: Employ to Empower

Showcasing the talented entrepreneurs of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, The Cardboard Project returns for another year with a theme of “attentive listening.”

This year’s event, titled “The Cardboard Project 2.0: From Dark To Light,” invites attendees to ‘close their eyes, open their ears.’ The event will offer a unique dark room experience to meet local low-income entrepreneurs, where people will have the opportunity to ‘really listen,’ as they engage in friendly discussion and share stories.

Following the dark room, this year’s collaborative art installation will be unveiled, showcasing the responses of more than 100 residents of the Downtown Eastside answering the question: 

“What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve ever heard?”

Following this, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to a diverse range of speakers. In addition, local artists who participated in the project will showcase their own personal work.

Participants can enjoy:
  • an inspiring dark room conversation with entrepreneurs
  • an art installation created from cardboard testimonies
  • a diverse speakers panel of artists and thought leaders
  • an artistic showcase and opportunity to buy original artwork

Admission to the Cardboard Project 2.0 is a minimum donation of $10. This includes the dark room experience, speaking panel, and artistic showcase, plus networking opportunities, refreshments, and swag bags. All proceeds will go to Employ To Empower, a non-profit which runs a Collaboration, Incubator, Mentorship, and Microfinancing program for low-income entrepreneurs in the Downtown Eastside.

The event takes place on Saturday, July 27.

Among this year’s speakers and artistic collaborators is Deirdre Pinnock, a talented rug hooker, yarn bomber, stand-up comedian, and passionate mental health advocate, who is part of Employ To Empower’s incubator program. 

“Being a part of Employ to Empower has opened up a lot of doors for me and I’m really grateful for that,” said Pinnock. 

“Employ to Empower supports me and since joining, new aspects of my art are being shown in a variety of different ways. People want—and are taking the time—to hear my story.”

cardboard darkroom
Photo: Employ to Empower

Sage Bullick, an artistic collaborator, overcame mental health issues to become an entrepreneur. Now, she creates and sells wearable ears inspired by fantasy worlds at music festivals.  Known as “That Chick with The Ears,” Bullick is also a member of Employ To Empower’s program and will be speaking at the Project. 

“I am really excited to be apart of this project, because it allows me to challenge other people’s perspective about members in the Downtown Eastside community,” said Bullick. 

“Being a part of the ETE program has really developed my own confidence and it has helped me realize my own potential. It is clearly evident that the ‘hand up, not hand out, approach’ that ETE advocates actually works.”

Chris Donavan, who works in clothing, painting, drawing, and carving, is passionate about sharing the struggle and pain of First Nations people through his art. He is excited to be working with other artists and teaching people about his Indigenous roots, both by speaking at the Project and as a member of Employ To Empower’s incubator program. 

“Ever since I joined ETE, I have learned more social skills and feel more confident about owning my story. I used to feel shameful about sharing my past, and now I’m learning to really own and embrace it,” said Donavan. 

“I used to have trouble sharing my story with my clients and buyers, but now I am able to share my history with much more confidence. I’ve been able to approach many more potential customers than I ever have before.”

cardboard darkroom
Photo: Employ to Empower

The Cardboard Project

When: Saturday, July 27 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 312 Main Street (at Cordova), Vancouver
Cost: Minimum donation of $10

You can find out more information and purchase tickets here.