Art, activism and ecology intertwine at Vine Arts Festival

10-day festival runs Aug. 9 to 19 at parks and beaches across Vancouver

Beginning this week, a tree trunk equipped with headphones will project the sound of live insects while a dancer and musician gallivant about Trout Lake Park.

In what can only be qualified as a truly made-in-Vancouver event, the Vine Arts Festival returns for its third go-round Aug. 9 to 19 at parks across the city, including Trout Lake, Norquay, Maclean and Kits. Ecology and conservation are the festival’s foremost themes, and the 60-plus entertainers on the docket reflect those talking points: urban farmers, woodcarvers, beekeepers, herbalists, musicians, designers and more. What ties them all together is their use of natural surroundings to complement their performance.  

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Hence, the name Vine Arts Festival.

“It’s based around the idea that vines grow everywhere quite quickly and in weird places,” said festival founder and artistic director Heather Lamoureux. “You never know how they got there or where they’re going, so it follows this idea that we can bring together an accessible gathering across a number of disciplines.”

Lamoureux’s notion of oneness is best exemplified by the use of “earthstages.” The idea is to use the least non-naturally occurring infrastructure: no wooden stages for musicians and no prefabricated surfaces for dancers or other performers.

Each day of the festival will feature a handful of performances, though Aug. 19 serves as the grand finale. About 30 performances will be spread across Trout Lake Park, including art installations — yes, a tree with headphones transmitting the sound of live bees — dancers, musicians and theatre acts performing on four earthstages.

It’s on that day that Lamoureux will be collaborating alongside Nanaimo-based Indigenous artist Valeen Jules to unveil the Resilient Roots Project. Through spoken word, storytelling and other forms of activism, the project seeks to tell both historic and contemporary stories minus any themes of colonialism.

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