This past summer, the Roundhouse welcomed Kay Slater as one of the Centre’s new preparators. With a background in fine arts and design and a keen objective to bring accessibility into gallery spaces, Kay has become an invaluable part of the team. We took a moment to speak with Kay about what compelled them to become a preparator, why community spaces like the Roundhouse are important to artists, and how Kay’s personal experience with hearing challenges has shaped the way they work.
In Spring 2018 the Vancouver Park Board, in collaboration with Made in BC, launched a call for proposals for a two-year Community Dance Residency at the Roundhouse. The residency called upon professional dancers and choreographers with community-engaged practices to work together with non-professional dancers of varying experience and ability to create and produce new works.
Beyond acting as our beloved Production Administrator, Maria Rita Castillo is an accomplished poet, using her words to share her experience in migrating from the Philippines to Canada. She was compelled to write poetry through a love for classic literature and an understanding that the form could help her to express thoughts and emotions with greater clarity. In early 2000, Maria decided to submit her work online and has since had two poems published by the International Poetry Society and formed friendships with a community of writers and artists who share her passion for the written word.
In April 2018, the Roundhouse opened its doors to its first wheelchair sport program, wheelchair floorball. Though similar in many ways to floor hockey, wheelchair floorball further combines rules from soccer and basketball to create a fast-paced and inclusive sport. Team Canada wheelchair floorball captain Kyle Gieni worked with Roundhouse programmer Val Ferrari to bring the sport to the centre and shared some insights with us about his connection to floorball and the value of community centres offering space for practice.
In 2017, a dialogue sparked between Vancouver Park Board Arts, Culture and Engagement (ACE) programmers and Metis-Cree curator, filmmaker and cultural planner, Kamala Todd. In consideration of the colonial history of the Roundhouse in relation to the land on which it is situated, the group wondered how to initiate the process of Indigenizing the Centre. The conversation culminated in the development of Framing History: Indigenous Art at the Roundhouse, a project with local Indigenous artists to set the historical narrative of the Roundhouse in a larger context of place—on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh lands.
Illuminated living spaces seemingly on display to evening passers-by provide the inspiration for Janet Wang’s WINDOW installation, Habit@. Habit@ transforms the Roundhouse exhibition space into a portal to peek inside the domestic lives of urbanites. A series of stacked boxes of varying sizes represent apartments and condominiums. Some rooms are empty, some are occupied by characters or objects but all rooms tell a story.
The Burrard Marina Field House provided a majestic backdrop for a two-day jam making workshop (August 1 & 2) that was the brainchild of Australian artist Keg de Souza. The Field House Residency Program (supported by the Vancouver Parks Board) provides studio space for artists in exchange for the development of community-based arts projects; the Burrard Marina space is organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG).
Keg de Souza is completing a series of three projects at this location. The first two projects are preliminary research for a large-scale exhibition she will have in 2016. Originally trained as an architect, Keg is mindful of space when creating her situation specific projects. Working with narratives of colonialism, displacement, gentrification, migration and influence, she frequently uses food as a metaphor. Her practice is very collaborative – bringing together locals to gain their expertise and insights into her explorations.
We went kite crazy at the Roundhouse, during the kite making activities facilitated by the BC Kitefliers Association (BCKA) as part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Kite master Egan Davis was on hand as well as Cathy Jung (BCKA President), Dianne O’Brien (BCKA Workshop Coordinator), and many cheerful volunteers.
Did you know that the City of Vancouver has an official Bird Strategy? As part of the greenest city initiative, goal number six – access to nature – includes creating the conditions necessary to increase the diversity and well-being of our bird population. To this end, the Bird Strategy sets out five objectives: support habitat, reduce threats, enhance access, enhance awareness, and grow bird-related tourism. Since 2013, Vancouver has celebrated our feathered friends with an official week. Even prior to this, Mayor Gregor Robertson signed proclamations in 2011 and 2012 recognizing the United Nations’ World Migratory Bird Day.
Kite making is coming to the Roundhouse this April. In partnership with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF), the Roundhouse will host a hands-on workshop in the art of kite making. Facilitated by award winning kite master, Egan Davis, this event is part of a kite series the VCBF has planned for this year.
Egan’s vision for the kite series began several years back. Pink cherry blossom petals drifting in the air reminded him of pink kites. He approached VCBF Executive Director Linda Poole with the idea of flying a thousand pink kites as part of the Cherry Blossom celebration.
“All winter we’re looking down, huddled under an umbrella. Kites make us look up to celebrate cherry blossoms and the beginning of spring.” – Linda Poole