The surprising end of the 49-year-old Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company shook the local arts and culture scene in 2012.
The company announced in March that its million-dollar deficit meant it could no longer continue to animate the city's Playhouse Theatre facility at Hamilton and Dunsmuir.
But while this decades-old institution threw in the towel, other long-running companies and festivals persevered, making Vancouver a richer place to visit and live.
The Powell Street Festival, which celebrates Japanese-Canadian art, culture and heritage in and around Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside marked its 36th year partly by recognizing contributions to the festival from the surrounding non-Japanese-Canadian community.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival celebrated its 35th anniversary and dodged the torrential rain that marred the July event the previous year, and the Vancouver International Children's Festival marked its 35th anniversary with a focus on storytelling.
Dances for a Small Stage celebrated its 10th year and 25th installment in February with a show at the Commercial Drive Legion that included flamenco, hip hop and modern dance. The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, which incorporates the ideas and instruments of different cultures in new compositions, closed its 10th anniversary season with three new pieces of music at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.
Meanwhile, a group of 20-year-olds started Vancouver's newest opera company, Opera Mariposa. The decline of movie theatres made news with the Empire Granville 7 closing its doors, the owners of Denman Cinemas losing their space but opening a movie theatre on Kingsway near Burnaby, approval of a development that will see the Ridge Theatre demolished and the Rio Theatre obtain a liquor primary license so it could serve alcohol at live events but not movies and then, along with other movie theatres, see a ban on booze at movies lifted.
Comedy got a boost with the launch of a new comedy series called East Van Comedy in the theatre at the Havana restaurant on Commercial Drive, a new Yuk Yuk's kitty corner from city hall and a new parody show based on the TV shows Dragons' Den and Shark Tank called Dragons' Improv Tank at Vancouver TheatreSports.
Real stories, interactions and opinions were mined for Chop Theatre's Best Play/Worst Play and Toronto-based Mammalian Diving Reflex's Eat the Street event where festival-goers dined with fledgling foodies in Grades 5 and 6, both of which were part of the PuSh Festival. Toronto's Nina Arsenault, who underwent 60 cosmetic surgeries to transform her appearance from that of a man, shared seven monologues about her adventures in The Silicone Diaries at the Cultch. On Granville Island, deeply personal stories of guests became occasional fodder for improvised scenes in The Life Game Vancouver.
Quebec's L'Orchestre D'Hommes-Orchestre with the help of Les New Cackle Sisters served one of the most memorable, fun and life-affirming performances of the year up at the Cultch in March. One musician snuggled up to his bandmate's back, reached around him to unbutton his shirt and smacked out a rhythm on his chest, the sisters repeatedly capped and uncapped bottles and took swigs of their contents to the tempo of one song, and the group left its compressed stage looking like an art installation with a celebratory mess of props, improvised instruments and confetti.
Here's hoping 2013 ushers in more beginnings than ends.
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