Is Vancouver really a “No Fun” town?

yu_no_funHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!!

Readers, last week I caught a show, it was a great indie-folk type thing and after the show, the drummer, upon hearing that I was from Vancouver, went on about how Vancouver and Victoria were “so uptight.” “I was touring out there last month and every club we played in had to stop the music by midnight,… like, that’s it, not a minute later. Can you believe that!?”

As someone who’s a couple months away from moving back there, I ask you IS Vancouver really such a buzz kill for the arts?

Just to clarify, I am aware there are many great artists in my home town who contribute lots of fantastic work to the Vancouver seen, but that’s not the question here. The question is in regards to the artistic environment of Vancouver.

Lots of people rail against the scene there, claiming that Toronto or Montreal are so much better. And to some extent they may be,… they’re also larger cities.

I wonder, is the West coast frame of mind just a little too passive about arts? Are the artists themselves too passive? Does Vancouver’s natural beauty supplant the need for more cultural activity? And is it really so bad if things end a little bit earlier?

Well, clearly not everyone’s passive about the situation (… if there is a situation) as city councilor Heather Deal is trying to bring “funky” back to Vancouver by amending bylaws to allow for creative cultural events, without the red tape. For more info see here and here.

So what are your thoughts? Is it so bad? What would you like to see more/less of in Vancouver and how could it be achieved?

Alright readers, take it away!

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone! jd

  • John Doheny

    I haven’t been a full time Vancouver resident for nearly 8 years now, but I’ve always kind of felt like Vancouver is a victim of it’s own success. In places like New York, it was still possible to be a penniless bohemian in a rancid garrett in the center of the Manhattan action well into the second half of the 20th century, although anyone who lives there now will tell you things are way different now and they they despair for the future of jazz in NY. But for now, the infrastructure of the arts is secure enough that the jazz ‘business’ (if not jazz culture) will remain centered in NYC for the foreseable future.

    When I first started playing around Vancouver in the early 70s, it was possible to live cheaply and make a living playing music. Almost all the musicians I knew worked constantly in strip clubs and blues bars (and played jazz for peanuts in other places; some things haven’t changed) and lived right in the center of town, in places like Kitsilano or the West End. When I played in the house band at the Place Cabaret on Granville in 1973, a bunch of us rented a house at 2586 w13th Avenue for $175 a month. No way could you do that now.

    Not that I’m laying blame entirely at the feet of the real estate industry. I know it’s not really the done thing to say this, but frankly, there just isn’t much support in Vancouver for things like jazz among audiences. Because you’re right, it really doesn’t matter much if things end a bit early (here in New Orleans Snug Harbor, the main straight-ahead venue, moved it’s shows from 9 and 11p.m. to 8 and 10, because they were losing audiences during the late set. In post-Katrina New Orleans, people work harder and get up earlier), but the puritan attitude evinced by that kind of thing IS significant. Vancouverites are often too busy hustling money to make the condo mortgage payment to have much energy to hang in clubs.

    There’s no shortage of first rate jazz musicians in Vancouver, in fact I’m always amazed at how many there are, considering the size of the city. There’s just not enough audience for them.

  • Omar

    “I wonder, is the West coast frame of mind just a little too passive about arts?”

    YES!!!!!!!!!. Far to passive, there are so many amazing talented musicians here, in fact this has some of my favorite musicians ever, who are world class “Brad Turner, Dylan Van Der Schyff, Andre Lachance, Bruno, Ron Samworth etc etc”

    But yes there is a big world out there and Vancouver does seem to be on an up-swing with more independant places having live music (Prophouse,El barrio, goldies) with people like John Paton hosting the Jam session on sundays and what not. But i dont think there are enough people getting out there, being pro-active and making a difference in this scene.

    From my experience growing up here, livivng here and kind of being on the scene, it would have been extremly un-healthy for me to stay here.

    This is of coarse my own situation, everyone is different. When i was living here, if i had got to see Brad Turner’s quartet more then two-3 times a year…maybe i would have stayed. But thats the reality in this city and its fucking sad!

    I dont mean to make this dark but at least its honest.

    This city has gotten so fucking expensive that it almost rivals NYC in price…

    I have heard some say”If it wasnt for the Jazz Festival or The Coastal Jazz Society, I couldnt live in this city”

    i dont have much more to offer other then going back to my original statement…Yes! this city’s attitude is FAR TOO PASSIVE, but the problem is that people seem to be ok with that!

    The problem isnt the city being passive, the problem is the people(artists) thinking that this is “normal” and acceptable.

    Its not!