daelik, Anne Cooper, Monica Strehlke | photo: Jeff Stuckel
Back in 2010, I was questioning my validity as a professional dancer, one who was facing the cyclical demoralization of being underemployed. Even though in the last 2 decades, I had been one of the most employed dancers in Vancouver, in Summer 2010, I found myself again looking for work that was outside my field. I knew that other professional artists were navigating the same dilemma, made worse by the Campbell government’s funding cuts. This did not auger well for arts and culture in British Columbia.
So I decided to do a dance, busk, protest. I decided to do it in the most embarrassing context I could think of: in Mount Pleasant, the neighbourhood where I live, where I am usually anonymous. I decided to do it at Gene Cafe, a popular hub close to my home. I wanted to make a public statement about something that was private: the challenge of maintaining a livelihood as an artist, and my determination to thrive no matter what.
By the time I completed the 4th and last edition of my dance busk protest, I was joined by a diverse cross-section of artists. We received a fair amount of media coverage and later in 2010, The Georgia Straight noted in its Year In Review: Local artists waged an imaginative campaign—including Ziyian Kwan’s weekly dance performances in August near the corner of Main Street and Kingsway—against Campbell government cuts to culture. This contributed to his low approval rating, which led to his subsequent resignation. Thank you, artists.
Seven years have past and a lot has happened. The tides of change are ongoing and artists keep reinventing and thriving. Here are some folks who joined me to dance, play music and/or protest against funding cuts to arts. Check out their websites and their amazing work!
DANCE ARTISTS: Daelik http://machinenoisy.com, Lee Su-Feh http://www.batteryopera.com, Jennifer Clarke http://www.jenniferclarkeprojects.com, Peter Bingham http://www.edamdance.org, Alvin Tolentino http://www.companyerasgadance.ca,J ay Hirabayashi & Barbara Bourget http://www.kokoro.ca, Laura Hicks http://www.laurahicks.net/, Tara Cheyenne http://www.taracheyenne.com, Kim Tuson http://kimtuson.com, Susan Elliott http://cookingjourneys.ca/susan-elliott/,Caroline Liffmann http://www.carolineliffmann.com, Natalie LeFebrve Gnam http://www.plasticorchidfactory.com, Nicole Dupuis, Donald Taruc, Mariko Kage, Caroline Farquhar, Monica Strehlke, Helen Walkley, Anne Cooper
SOUND ARTISTS: John Korsrud http://johnkorsrud.com, Peggy Lee http://www.peggylee.net, Pepe Danza http://www.pepedanza.com, Eileen Kage http://www.taikoelectric.com, Brian Harding, Jeff Corness, André Lachance, Sam Schoichet
VISUAL & MEDIA ARTISTS: Peg Campbell, Jeff Stuckel, Chris Randle http://www.chrisrandlephotography.com
Video: Peg Cambell
The protest was timely. Jane Danzo, former chair of the British Columbia Arts Council, resigned and sent a letter to Minister Krueger, demonstrating her stance regarding the cuts and diffusion of funds to arts in BC. It was also timely for me, as for any artist, to know that in our struggles and celebrations we were not alone rather, united. In Summer of 2010, I learned that there is no shame in the challenges that we encounter as we exercise our creative voices. We are but microcosms, jewels of imagination in the environments where we live.
So… thanks to all my colleagues letting the world know, that art is a place where friends and strangers meet, to make the invisible visible, even and especially, in the most uncertain of times.
Peter Bingham | Photo: Chris Randle
Tara Cheyenne: Photo Chris Randle
John Korsrud and friends