How to penetrate the seemingly-steel exterior of the Vancouver arts community

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Photo by Analyn Cuarto

Quit complaining, and go enjoy some culture

By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager


If life were a drinking game where we took a shot every time someone complained about Vancouver being unfriendly or standoffish, we’d all be cry-singing to “Mr. Brightside” before nine o’clock.

It’s a tired cliché, to the point where it’s almost cliché to complain about it being clichéd. Yes, some folks in this city have a stick up their ass the size of a telephone pole, but it’s the same deal with any city you go to. There aren’t a ton of places where you can move to and find every corner of the city throwing its arms wide open for a warm embrace; you have to put the legwork in yourself.

Take the Lower Mainland’s arts community, for example. On the exterior, you probably think about the Granville Strip as the hub of activity, but if you squint and look a little closer, there’s a wonderful world of artists existing on the fringes of Vancouver. Underground venues, hilarious comedy shows, DIY gallery openings, punk shows held under bridges—they’re all there, and they’re all relatively affordable. You just have to know where to look.

Here are some habits you can adopt to further dive into the lesser-known parts of Vancouver’s arts community.


Check (something other than the Georgia Straight) for upcoming events/happenings

There are a lot of folks out there who, collectively, spend a decent chunk of time collecting and compiling event information so you don’t have to. Piggyback off their hard work and jump to the source to find all the great things happening right here in your backyard. You’ve likely browsed the Current Events listing in the Georgia Straight, but cast that culture net wider—local publications like Discorder and BeatRoute publish monthly calendars for concerts, while and Bored in Vancouver are just a few websites that boast expansive event listings.


Like/follow local venues and organizations on social media

I get it, your wounds from the Cambridge Analytica scandal are still searing, and you’ve either deactivated F-book completely or you’re on the verge of doing so. I personally will never delete Facebook because it’s how I stay in-the-loop on so many different events around the city. For DIY venues where real-life advertising lies beyond their operating budgets, social media is the primary means of promoting events. New algorithms also mean that events from pages are less likely to be seen unless you follow the page—or unless they’re paid advertisements. Most venues or organizations will have some kind of social media page, so give them a follow to get regular updates delivered straight to your feed.


Actually go out to events

A few years ago, I was interviewing the director of a volunteer-run music festival, and she told me, “You get what you put into any community that you’re a part of.” This nugget of advice has stuck with me because of how important it is. The more you attend events, the more community members you’ll slowly start to meet, the more pals you’ll make, the more you’ll hear about stuff happening in Vancouver, the more these events will pop up in your newsfeed. Conquer that dumb voice in your head that’s telling you to avoid social events, and just frickin’ show up.


Acquainting yourself with a new community is never an easy endeavour, but you have to start somewhere. Pick up a monthly publication, tap “Follow” or “Like” a few times, head out to some events, and start to explore the incredible fun arts community that’s been right in front of you this entire time.

…Or you can be one of those people who just complains about Vancouver and talks about moving to Montreal/Toronto/wherever. It’s up to you.


The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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