While most events have been scaled down (if not cancelled outright) since the COVID-19 pandemic began, when BC Culture Days returns next month for its 11th annual event, the celebration of all things arts and culture will be doing so with an expanded line-up of offerings instead.
The annual initiative, set to run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 25 this year, aims to raise "awareness, accessibility, participation, and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities," according to a release.
To that end, Culture Days is providing a wide variety of hands-on, and interactive arts and culture activities. The initiative isn't just relegated to B.C. either: This year, the month-long celebration will allow participants to virtually take part in events hosted across the country.
That includes everything from in-person painting and paper-making demonstrations to livestreamed plant ink and comic book workshops, as well as recorded performances, self-guided art and agricultural tours.
But first, this year's edition of BC Culture Days will kick off with a virtual event on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 4 p.m., hosted by the City of North Vancouver and featuring performances by local artists, South Asian, Persian, and First Nations dancers, in addition to an Indigenous welcome ceremony and messages from B.C.'s minister of tourism, sports and culture, the City of North Vancouver Mayor, and artist ambassadors.
“More so than ever before, fostering connection, understanding, and healing through artistic expression is essential to our overall well being as we navigate these strange and challenging times,” said BC Culture Days manager Nazanin Shoja in a release.
“It is through creative curiosity that we gain a deeper appreciation for our world, for our community, and about ourselves. A collective artistic experience offers a beacon of hope to those who are struggling—boosting community engagement, deepening social bonds, and reflecting a future full of possibility. By expanding this year’s celebration to a full month of innovative partnerships and unconventional mashups, we hope even greater numbers of British Columbians will be drawn to experience the transformative power of the arts.”
On Wednesday, BC Culture Days also announced the five emerging B.C. artists who have been selected as "cultural ambassadors" for this year's celebrations. As part of the role, these artists are tasked with "raising heightened awareness and boosting participation in their own communities, coupled with virtually across Canada."
BC Culture Days' 2020 Cultural Ambassadors include:
● Coral Santana (Vancouver): An Afro-Latina writer and activist who will produce a livestream festival, "highlighting the connections between minority experiences and sex, sexuality and body ownership" through "live music, comedy, spoken word, aphrodisiac cuisine, and burlesque."
● Damian John (Ymir): As an acrylic/graphic painter, poet and member of the Tl’azt’en First Nation, John will host an
interactive presentation set to explore the history and experience of Canada's First Nations peoples. Following the presentation, participants will be "encouraged to create artwork inspired by their thoughts and experiences, informed by both the presentation and their own personal journey."
● Molly Beatrice (Victoria): To coincide with BC Culture Days, the queer emerging theatre artist, director, and producer, will facilitate a 10-week performing arts workshop with queer, trans, and gender non-conforming youth in the Victoria area, culminating in a Zoom cabaret performed by workshop participants.
● Edward Fu-Chen Juan (Vancouver): The printmaking artist, "whose work bridges traditional artisanal skills with contemporary art practices," will offer a guided tour and workshop demonstrating how foraged native plant specimens can be transformed into ink material for silkscreen printmaking. The artist's presentations, set to take place in Vancouver and in several regions across the Sunshine Coast, aim to shine a light on the importance of conservation within the art form.
● Bambi (Revelstoke): The French-Canadian graphic designer will collaborate with the Kelowna-area Francophone community on Aug. 28 and 29, and will repeat the process with the Revelstoke community on Sept. 25, to produce a collective line art and painting piece. A video of the creative process will be available online throughout BC Culture Days.