Home Cabaret boasts diverse evening of local performers on October 13
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
The City of New Westminster, in partnership with New Works, a non-profit dance organization based out of Vancouver, is hosting an evening showcasing the city’s diverse arts community on October 13 at the Anvil Center. The evening boasts a multidisciplinary, intergenerational lineup all demonstrating what the idea of “home” means to them.
The event is one of five that the City of New Westminster has planned over the past year as part of their Canada 150 celebrations. The Other Press spoke with Biliana Velkova, the city’s Arts Coordinator, in a phone interview about their programming approach to these events.
“What we are doing is around collecting community conversations and community stories about what ‘home’ means to New Westminster,” said Velkova.
People, she explained, can have vastly different ways of examining what that means.
“Is home where we sleep? [Is it] where we feel safe? Home may be the river. Home is unceded land. Home may not even be here. Maybe it’s somewhere else that you go back to every year,” said Velkova. “We’re looking at the idea of home in a very broad sense, but also connecting it back to New Westminster.”
The multiplicity of feelings towards “home” is representative of the evening’s lineup, which features dancers, opera singers, circus performers, bluegrass musicians, and drag queens. Beverly Walker—Cultural Programs, Presentations, and Special Events Coordinator at New Works and curator of the event—also spoke with the Other Press. Walker chuckled as our reporter pointed out the shows broad range of disciplines slated for the evening.
“I hope it will be like an old-fashioned variety show,” said Walker.
Admitting she did not fully appreciate opera in the past, she said she remembered an event earlier this year when she, like many in the audience, had powerful reactions to the bigger-than-life opera singer performing—the same singer performing at Home Cabaret. People, she said, reacted so positively, even cars driving by slowed to see the captivating performance. Walker would love to see audience members similarly come to the event to see one act and discover others they would have never thought to explore.
Drag performance is another art that is becoming more and more visible in the art community. The art of drag has never had the level of popular interest into it as right now, making it a very exciting time for the art form. Walker elaborated on this, calling it “an imagination of the exotic.”
Despite its smaller size, New West is proving its arts culture is equally as rich as Vancouver’s.
“We wanted to feature the best of what’s happening right now [in the city’s arts community], but this is just a snapshot,” said Walker. “New West is a cultural hotbed.”
These types of interdisciplinary events have the potential to establish relationships between artists that may not have happened otherwise, so Walker says she is excited to see what types of artistic connections that may come out of the evening.
“I think this might be an event where [what happens] backstage will be equally if not more exciting.”
When asked what has been the most rewarding part of working on Home Cabaret, Walker said, “I’m thrilled to connect audiences with great art and artists with resources.”
Artists, she said, have to go where the work is, so the idea of “home,” the theme central to the event, is often articulated through the availability of work.
Velkova echoed a similar sentiment. “We are always really open to having accessible and diverse programming. We’re always working with different cultures, different ages, different abilities to showcase the diverse talent that we have.”
Both Velkova and Walker thanked a grant provided by the Government of Canada that helped make this event possible. Walker added that she has really appreciated the way the City of New Westminster has approached the Canada 150 celebrations. The city has made a point to insist on their celebration of “the Confederacy” rather than of “Canada,” something Walker said responsibly honours Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the over 40,000 years of history and arts that preceded European arrival.
If the lineup wasn’t enough to convince a potential audience member, Walker urges people to give it a try as this is a free event and it’s a great opportunity to “get together with other art appreciators.” The evening will feature an artist pre-show chat, where performers will answer questions on their work, beginning at 6 p.m., as well as an after-show social.
“I’m really proud of what we’re doing here in the city. We have an amazing community, both artists and audiences,” said Velkova. “I just want to let people know that the Anvil Centre is open, that there’s a lot going on here, and that we’re always looking to welcome new people.”