Vancouver, Vancouver, a helluva (“No Fun”) town!

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

Readers, thank you all for the comments on last weeks post! As we’ve read, some people (ie Cory Weeds) have chosen to take on the challenge to make things happen in Vancouver while others have chosen to move elsewhere in search of greener, or at least dryer, pastures. I support both; artists gotta do whatever the hell they gotta do.

My goal over the last few weeks has been to examine, and possibly debunk, Vancouver’s “No-Fun Town” reputation. (For starters, such a broad slogan is not going to get people on board; of course you can have fun in Vancouver,… or any city really! If the message is supposed to convey “Unsupportive-of-the-arts Town” then call it that.)

And why examine/debunk it? you ask. Indeed, why not just accept it and let the negativity wash over you like a warm bubble bath of pity?

Well, as with any profession, you need to get a lay of the land, scene/work-wise, in order to see or imagine what can be done there. Believing that a city is somehow magically cursed doesn’t really help you address problems, there are always reasons for why things are the way they are and I think we’ve addressed at least some of them.

Vancouver has been ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade and has been ranked as having the 4th highest quality of living of any city on Earth, see what that’s based on here, (fun fact: Mid-sized cities in developed countries with relatively low population densities tend to score well by having all the cultural and infrastructural benefits on offer with fewer problems related to crime or congestion.). In contrast, according to Forbes, Vancouver had the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America after Los Angeles in 2007. Along with Toronto, Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada’s most expensive cities in which to live (according to here, or here, Vancouver is by far the most expensive in terms of real estate). Forbes also ranked Vancouver as the tenth cleanest city in the world.

To sum up, Vancouver is a young, clean, “mid-size” city with a very high cost of living. It is without close proximity to other major Canadian cities and arguably without a world-renowned cultural “legacy” (which I’m differentiating from a cultural “history”) to hold on to. (I’m guessing Bill Reid and Emily Carr would be counted as our most artistically renowned,… Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado?… less so).

“So what do we, as artists, do about it?” one commenter asked.

Hmm, well,… I’d start off by asking yourself why you want to make a go of it in Vancouver? Although we’ve debunked the “No-Fun Town” idea, we’ve also established that Vancouver is a relatively difficult city for artists. Is there an easy city anywhere JD? Not that I know of, but there may be easier cities for you.

Despite the difficulties of living and working in Vancouver, it remains one of my favourite places to be. Here’s why:

Kin-ship with numerous artists: I’m not going to tout the brilliance or uniqueness of Vancouver’s musicians, I really don’t know why this is but I’ve just had the good fortune of finding a number of players there who inspire me, more than any other city I’ve spent time in, besides NYC.

Family/friends community: Obviously, it’s great to be around your friends, and not just friends, but old friends.

The vibe: for all of this No-Fun talk, I actually like the vibe of Vancouver itself, or least most of it. It could be familiarity, but the “big small-town” thing is charming. Having the ocean and mountains nearby is also refreshing for me.

Related work: It’s still my goal to be touring more (more than, em,… not at all) but I realize the need for a “job” and ideally one related to what I love doing. One of these things I love doing is composing and Vancouver has a decent film/tv/gaming scene for which there might be a need of commercial composers. I need to look into this more seriously when I get back,… I could be wrong.

So yes, Vancouver offers me a certain degree of comfort as well as inspiration for writing/playing music that I don’t get in most other places.

So what’s your reason? The comments section awaits,…

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone! jd1

  • http://johndoheny.blogspot.com/ John Doheny

    Right, we’re finally getting down to the nitty gritty. Why choose Vancouver?

    “Kin-ship with numerous artists: I’m not going to tout the brilliance or uniqueness of Vancouver’s musicians, I really don’t know why this is but I’ve just had the good fortune of finding a number of players there who inspire me, more than any other city I’ve spent time in, besides NYC.”

    The key phrase being “besides NYC.” So, why aren’t you in NYC?

    Could it be….

    “Family/friends community: Obviously, it’s great to be around your friends, and not just friends, but old friends.”

    There you go. Nothing wrong with that. Most people don’t make decisions on where to live based entirely on pragmatism. Family and friends are a big draw. I miss my family (what’s left of it) like crazy. My mother is 82 and lives in the Purdy Pavillion out at UBC. Every time I leave after a visit, I wonder if I’ll ever see her again. I miss my friends too. If you can make a life in Vancouver, where you have friends and family, more power to you.

    For me it came down to this: what do I love to do? I like to teach, and I like to play the saxophone. If there’d been an opportunity to do just a little bit more of one or the other, I might have stayed. But it really felt like no room at the inn to me, after a few years of flailing away. The cats with the nice teaching jobs at the universities and colleges there aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the local muso-ecology can support only so many jazz musicians.

    I’m not at all sorry I left (well, except when I miss family and friends, which is often) but you only get one life to live, far as we know, and I got tired of spending it somewhere that wasn’t offering me the kind of opportunities I have here. Maybe they WERE there for me, and I just didn’t do the right stuff, or I didn’t play good enough or something. Who knows? All I know is, New Orleans has offered me opportunities to learn and grow, and play with some really heavy people (and get cut to ribbons by them) and a university teaching gig to boot. All that, and palm trees too.

    Family and friends would be nice, but as Bill Clarke says “I do not pine for where I am not.” For me the question was “do you want opportunities to play, or do you want comfort, family and friends?” I can’t have both. If you can, good for you.