DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Jim Miller

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Jim Miller

Jim Miller loves The Cultch!

Jim, you have been a subscriber to The Cultch for many years. Can you tell us what first attracted you?
I don’t know if my memory goes back 30 years! But I’d guess it must have been a totally unique, singular presentation of some sort…like theatre-for-one, or something set inside a neighbourhood home.
Perhaps a performance without words or presented in total darkness. I think the Cultch should use as their slogan: “Why Be Normal?”.

What do you think is distinctive about The Cultch and our programming?
Well, carrying on with that thought, Cultch programming always piques my interest and curiosity, as in: “What the heck is going on here?…this is crazy!” There are a bunch of places I can go to be “entertained”, but I also want to be challenged. Or perhaps be exposed to a new form of artistic expression I had never previously experienced. Like the “Bouffon Comedy” on display with The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius last November. I didn’t know much about it going in, but after the show I was all over Google to learn more about Bouffon! Simply put, the Cultch programs performances that just aren’t found anywhere else in town!

What has surprised you most about The Cultch?
Surprised me? That goes back 20 years or more. Nothing at The Cultch surprises me anymore; indeed, I’ve grown to expect it.

Last Season’s The After After Party, Hot Brown Honey, Goblin Market and Bears…that’s what I EXPECT from the Cultch. Next year it’ll be Backbone, Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, and Dakh Daughters that will be invading your stage from some other planet. If the Cultch were to present a gay, all-nude staging of Romeo & Juliette I don’t think I would be surprised…I’d be intrigued, and would want to check it out!
Let me revise my suggested slogan…make it: “Expect The Unexpected!”

Can you tell us what you wish other people knew about The Cultch?
First, what a terrific value it is. With subscription seats for less than 20 bucks, you are paying about the same as what it would cost to see Spiderman 8 or the pre-prequel of Star Wars. And second…it is an opportunity to learn, not just be entertained. That’s why I tend to always go on the Talkback nights. These artists’ brains are wired completely differently than me, and I want to find out about their vision, what they are trying to achieve, and perhaps about the unorthodox route they took getting there.
Sometimes I’ve had mixed feeling about a show I just witnessed, but when I stay for the Talkback and get to hear from the director and cast what they were trying to achieve, or perhaps the rich tradition that the particular performance style drew upon, it casts a whole new light on the show and gives me deeper appreciation for it.

What would you tell someone is thinking about subscribing and/or donating to The Cultch but hasn’t made the move yet?
Take A Chance! That’s how you discover a new live musical genre or perhaps a great new restaurant or cuisine. When you discover something that is right up your alley but you never knew existed it is like an Epiphany.

Not every show at the Cultch will resonate with you, but Wow, once you’ve discovered the East Van Panto or Ronnie Burkett’s puppetry there is no turning back; you’re hooked and end up going every year out of tradition! You don’t even have to think about it!

The same holds true for plays put on by United Players, E.T.C., PuSh and Studio 58, plus performances by Winter Harp, our Chamber Music Societies, ScotiaBank Dance Theatre, Cinema Salon, etc…they might be a step outside of a person’s comfort zone but often a very affordable step in an entirely new direction. Slogan?: “Broaden Your Perspective”…hmm, probably already taken!

What inspires your love of the performing arts?

Well, everybody has their “Escape”. It might be reading books, or cycling 20 km’s, or taking pottery classes… and they are all good. But for me, I’m passionate about all forms of the performing Arts…theatre, dance, music… from Jazz to Chamber to Symphonic. The Cultch played a big part in cultivating that interest, starting more than 3 decades ago, and I am blessed to be in a city with so much tremendous talent to sustain my passion…far more talent than you would normally expect from a city of this size.

But it can’t be taken for granted…our artists have mortgages, household budgets and pay a buck-fifty per litre of gas, just like everyone else, but they usually don’t enjoy an income commensurate with their training and ability. I see as much as I do, and as much as I can, 150 performances or more per year, in part to support the artists and to help ensure an ongoing vibrant arts scene here in Vancouver. That’s also why I donate to the Cultch. It gives them the ability to provide an ever increasing number of shows (count ’em, 23 next season!), and sustain our artists rather than having them give-up on their passion and go back to some boring day job!

Keep up the good work Cultch!


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

2018/19 Season staff picks!

2018/19 Season staff picks!

As you can imagine, all of the staff here at The Cultch are getting very excited to share the 2018/19 Season with you! We asked a few of our staff members what show they just cannot wait for, and here are the first few staff picks:


Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, SmallWaR, Nov 6-16, 2018

Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator. Photo by Tiana He

SmallWaR entices me because it is the follow-up to one of my favorite shows we have had here at The Cultch: BigMouth. Valentijn Dhaenens is an extremely powerful performer, who displayed a totally magnetic kind of controlled weight and erratic; as if he was at any moment going to burst in any direction. In addition to Valentijn’s performance, it was the beautiful execution of a simple concept that drew me to BigMouth (one man performs a series of famous speeches made by over 25 000 years of human history). Similarly, SmallWaR is focusing its attention in on one moment: a dying soldier reflecting on the impact of the cyclical trauma of war on his life and the history of humanity. In BigMouth, Valentijn made use of 5 microphones in a wildly creative and impactful manner. I can’t wait to see how the same experimentation is applied to the use of five projectors in SmallWaR.


Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager. Photo by Tiana He

Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager, Testosterone, Oct 2- 13, 2018

I am so excited to see Testoserone, and to open the discussion about masculinity. How masculine do you have to be, to be a “man”? This amazing production explores a character’s journey into the unknown spectrum that is masculinity, having just transitioned from female to male. “Do you think you’re man enough?”


Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate, Power Ballad, Jan 22-26, 2019

I’m really excited about Power Ballad which is going to be part of our Femme Series in January. This one-woman show, from New Zealand, is a feminist, performance-art, karaoke party – what could be better?! The imagery I’ve seen is striking and the reviews are great. I think it’s going to be an awesome night which will have you singing along while deconstructing the patriarchy and examining the way we use language. A unique show not to be missed!


Single tickets go on sale July 16, but you can purchase a subscription today to save! Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house.

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Giulio Recchioni from the Italian Cultural Centre

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Giulio Recchioni from the Italian Cultural Centre

Giulio Recchioni

Can you tell us how the Italian Cultural Centre first got involved with The Cultch?

Our very first time at The Cultch was in March 2012 with FRESCO, a play the Italian Cultural Centre commissioned from Lucia Frangione and BellaLuna Productions, telling the lesser known story of the internment of Italian citizens in Canada during WW2.

However the first proper partnership with The Cultch was in May 2017 with LA MERDA, featuring a naked Silvia Gallerano sitting on a stool on a dark stage… what a tough show that was!

What has surprised you and your colleagues most about partnering with The Cultch?

I was surprised by the richness and diversification of the shows offered at The Cultch, and also by the number of people that created a community around this historical institution in Vancouver;  some of the audience changes according to what’s playing, but there is also a hard core audience that comes to every show. I think that’s great. They trust The Cultch, they know whatever gets put on stage will be good and will have an impact on them, and they come with an open mind.

Over the years, the Italian Cultural Centre has supported several Cultch shows. Are there any highlights or memorable moments?

I still can’t help but smile when I think of Pss Pss and what they did with the ladder. Pss Pss was a funny show by Compagnia Baccalà that made adults and children laugh with non-verbal humour. In our line of work, cross-generational and cross-cultural are adjectives we use constantly, but this show brilliantly embodied both concepts.

How important do you think it is that the arts organizations continue to cultivate and sustain partnerships with corporate sponsors and local businesses?

It’s of paramount importance. The population is growing in this expensive city, and we are also seeing the consequential multiplication of cultural and artistic organizations. Often putting up cultural activities costs more money than ticket sales can generate, and government grants (municipal, provincial, federal) do not always keep up with the growing demand for funds. I hope more and more thriving businesses will want to share some of their wealth with the local community to keep this city interesting and interested.

What are you curious about right now?

I am curious about the new Creative City Strategy that the City will be rolling out – hopefully soon. There have been a number of explorative meetings to get an idea of what is needed in the arts and culture sector, and I can’t wait to see how all that knowledge will convert into an action plan.

Do you have a favorite show?

This is always such an unfair question… I see a decent number of shows throughout the year, and I have to constantly update my list of favourites. If I had to single out something I saw recently, though – I am a jazz fan, and I was lucky enough to go to Pyatt Hall for the live concert of the great baritone sax player, Gary Smulyan, with strings. He is a powerhouse!


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

Donor Spotlight: Lynda Stokes

Donor Spotlight: Lynda Stokes

Lynda, can you tell us about how you first got involved with The Cultch?

I first got involved with The Vancouver East Cultural Centre as an audience member. The first show I recall was the Holy Body Tattoo’s Circa in 2000, shortly after I moved to Vancouver. It was a remarkable, tango-influenced duet between Dina Gingras and Noam Gagnon with film and a live band, the Tiger Lilies. I became a regular season subscriber and then a donor and a few years ago I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Board.

What has surprised you most about volunteering with The Cultch? 

As an audience member who is also on the Board and therefore privy to the financials, it is amazing how subsidized tickets are! We think of artists and venues benefitting from government grants and sponsorships, but really it is the audience who benefits. Accessibility is a priority for The Cultch and staff work hard to keep ticket prices low and pay it forward by making tickets available for free through the Cultch Connects Program. Regular monthly donations really help with cash flow, I recently learned (although this should not have surprised me). 

Your legal practice spans several years – can you tell us how this skill set intersects with your involvement at The Cultch?

My practice consists predominantly of solicitor and advisory work on behalf of local governments. Basically, I practice municipal law and I do not go to court. There was a vetting process when I looked into joining the Board and for whatever reason I was feeling pretty flat and lacklustre when I was interviewed but I sold myself by expressing an interest in being the Board Secretary and preparing  meeting minutes. I read, write and think for a living and while I really enjoy my work, I also recognize that most people would find a lot of what I do very tedious. I do not act as a lawyer for The Cultch, but because of my legal skills and experience, I understand Board governance and I am happy to help with important but boring bits like minutes, bylaws and contract negotiations.

Can you tell us what you wish other people knew about The Cultch?

I suspect that many people know more about The Cultch than I do! It has such a long history as an important performing arts institution in Vancouver, and I know that Cultch staff engage, and are connected with many, many people locally, nationally and internationally. If I have to wish, though, I wish more people knew that it is worth the risk. Get a subscription. Invite your friends. The upcoming season looks fantastic, and it’s easy to book a whole year’s worth of entertainment and take care of birthday and other presents. You will be grateful you did when rainy winter inertia takes hold. And you can always change the dates of your tickets if something comes up. 

Is there a Cultch show that has really inspired/stayed with you? 

I just saw The Explanation and really enjoyed it. It reminded me of some of the shows that influenced me in when I was in high school – like Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna and Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (shout out to the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, particularly its experimental Under Grand series). The Explanation is a really lovely, empathetic exploration of a relationship and a reconciliation of self.

I am partial to dance and I really loved Company 605’s The Sensationalists from 2015 (full disclosure – I recently joined the 605 Board) and Frédérick Gravel’s All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey from 2016. Wow those were great shows.

What are you curious about right now?

I am curious about engaging with others in The Cultch, so I am trying to start up a Cultch Club. I see it as a kind of book club alternative for theatre and theatre adjacent nerds by theatre and theatre adjacent nerds, without a lot of rules or terrible attitudes. I am curious about how can we use The Cultch to connect with other people. The potential of theatre many of us recognized at a young age: “Wherever you are from, welcome home.”

  • If you are interested in joining The Cultch Club please email Georgia Beaty, Patron Development Associate (georgia@theculch.com ) and she will put you in touch with Lynda Stokes

As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

FLASHBACK: It has been an exciting month at The Cultch!

FLASHBACK: It has been an exciting month at The Cultch!

October flew by! The start to our 17/18 season was a huge success and a real blast! We opened four shows: The Goblin Market, 1 Hour Photo, Encounter, and HONOUR: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan. Thank you so much to all of you who attended one (or several) of these amazing shows! We are feeling nostalgic already, so here is a little flashback!

Here are some shots from a few of our opening nights:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


THE GOBLIN MARKET was the very first show of our season, and a big hit with our audiences!

“Breathtakingly beautiful. Heart-stoppingly romantic. Stirringly erotic” — Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

The Goblin Market dazzles”- Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight


1 HOUR PHOTO was a beautiful tribute to the life Mas Yamamoto

The world will soon know this man story. #1hourphoto @vact @thecultch

A post shared by Tetsuro Shigematsu (@bigshiggy) on

“Wrestling with questions of life and death, 1 Hour Photo is most heartfelt in its exploration of Yamamoto’s life. Ultimately, we are all a little better off for his willingness to share it through Shigematsu” — Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

1 Hour Photo animates an extraordinary life with vivid props and projections…the play is a buffet of sensory textures” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight


ENCOUNTER was an amazing way to kick off Diwali in BC; a tribute to indigenous peoples history around the world.

“It is no wonder they have gained their reputation as the best physical theatre out of India—the clarity of the physical storytelling from this accomplished company is absolutely expert” — Elizabeth Holliday, SAD MAG

“The show is affecting” — Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer


HONOUR: CONFESSIONS OF A MUMBAI COURTESAN, also a part of Diwali in BC, is a one woman show raising money and awareness for women and children trapped in cycles of sex trafficking.

“I don’t often stay for the talkback sessions after a show but this one was fascinating and added immeasurably to the tremendous pleasure I got from the performance…Dipti Mehta is, as well as a scientist and a social activist, a very fine storyteller” — Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan, is ambitious, smart, and a masterclass in character work” — Andrea Warner, The Georgia Straight


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE IT SUCH A GREAT MONTH HERE AT THE CULTCH!

There are more than 18 shows remaining in our 17/18 season — Don’t miss them!

A few staff picks for the 2017/ 2018 season!

A few staff picks for the 2017/ 2018 season!

We interrupt your summer shenanigans to remind you that before you know it autumn will be here…okay, okay, pipe down with the booing! Though, it may be difficult to think about autumn just yet, we wish to remind you about all the exciting shows coming up in our 17/18 season!

Check out a few of the shows our staff just can’t wait for:

Name: Lisa Mennell

Job Title: Communications Associate

17/18 Season Pick: Goblin Market (Oct 3-14, 2017)

Why: I love poetry and I love circus! This show is based on the narrative poem, Goblin Market by 19th century poet Christina Rossetti. The visuals for this sexy -adult only- circus show are stunning, and I hear that it melds story and athleticism flawlessly. Incredible acrobatic feats combined with classic poetry…what is not to like?!

Name: Elysse Cheadle

Job Title: Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

17/18 Season Pick: Black Boys (Jan 16-20, 2018)

Why: I have been obsessed with Toronto-based Buddies in Bad Times Theatre since I saw their production ‘Obaaberima’ here two years ago. I still get chills thinking about that performance – every element felt so alive and necessary in the telling of their story. Black Boys brings the return of the incomparable Tawiah M’carthy (of ‘Obaaberima’). We are so lucky to welcome back a performer of his calibre to our theatre! I expect ‘Black Boys’ to bring ferocity, humour, honesty, sex, and humanity. What more could you want?

Head Front of House Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, Elysse Cheadle

 

Black Boys runs Jan 16-20. Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah Ben M’Carthy and Thomas Olajide by Tanja-Tiziana.

Name: Natalie Schneck

Job Title: Development Associate

17/18 Season Pick: Dublin Oldschool (Jan 30 – Feb 3)

Why: It’s an Irish two hander with DJ tunes and re-connections. It seems gritty and real. I look forward to being invited into a world far away from my own but with (hopefully) some relatable elements.

Single tickets for the 17/18 season are now on saleBook a subscription save to up to 25%!

Thank you to our Cultch audiences for a triumphant close to our 16/17 Season!

Thank you for a wonderful 16/17 season!

What an amazing year it has been! The 16/17 Season was one of The Cultch’s most successful thanks to the continued patronage of all of our amazing supporters!

With 21 theatrical shows in our three venues, as well as countless amazing rental and festival shows; 11 Gallery shows; plus three nights of great music including, The Sicilian Project, DakhaBrakha, and the inaugural East Side Live, 16/17 was a great season for us, and we are so glad that you joined us for it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had many grand adventures together; here is a look back at a few of the many highlights:

We joined together to watch a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night completely in Hindi (Piya Behrupiya).

Piya Behrupiya

Photo by Company Theatre

We saw paper fights break out between audience members and bendy contortionist performers (The Pianist)…maybe we threw a few pieces ourselves…

‘The Pianist.’ Photo by Roaming the Planet

We saw the dawn (dusk?) of a new era in US politics ushered in as we sat in the dark Historic Theatre and did a little voting of our own (Fight Night).

Cast of Fight Night

Together we raised money for Cultch Connects, bringing over 1,200 people into the theatre who might not be able to attend otherwise; including families who are struggling to make ends meet, caring for a child with a serious illness, or who are new to Canada.

Cultch Connects brought over 1,200 people to the theatre with your help!

We joined together with our friends and families to make the fourth installment of East Van’s favourite holiday tradition the biggest selling show in The Cultch’s history! (East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood) Go Panto Go!

YAY Panto! Photo by Emily Cooper

We celebrated the powerful work of creative women for an entire month during Femme February!

Femme February included Mouthpiece, NeoIndigenA, am a, and the book launch of Girl Positive

We chuckled, chortled, and cackled together as we paid tribute to the 30+ year legacy of a local restaurant with a big heart, while singing along to catchy hits like ‘Testosterone’ and ‘Let a Girl Eat’ (Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical).

Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical cast members sing ‘Testosterone’. Photo by Tina Krueger Kulic

We spent time with old and new friends as we gathered to watch some of The Cultch’s favourite performers like: Esme Massengill, Mrs. Edna Rural and everyone’s favourite flightless fairy -Schnitzel (The Daisy Theatre).

No one is immune to the cuteness of Schnitzel! Photo by Alejandro Santiago

We felt the spray of ice on our faces as we gathered on the ice of Britannia Ice Rink to see Vertical Influences.

Audience members sit on the ice during Vertical Influences. Photo by Roaming the Planet

We mourned together as we watched heartbreaking and poignant Children of God, and then we sat together in the theatre to discuss how to respond to the dark legacy of residential schools.

Children of God cast members lead a discussion after the opening night performance. Photo by Roaming the Planet

And, after so many shows and fabulous events – we joined together to share meaningful conversation over many a glass of wine!

Sharing a drink with friends in the York Theatre. Photo by Roaming the Planet

We would love to hear some of your favourite memories of the 16/17 season; what are your favourite moments? 

Don’t forget to buy your subscription for our 17/18 Season soon. Shows are already filling up, get the best seating while you can! Click here for the full lineup.

Thank you for choosing to make The Cultch and the arts a part of your life!

Box Office Summer Hours:

Monday- Saturday: 12-4pm

Sunday: Closed

Also, open 2 hour prior to all performances

Wondering what to see at the 2016 rEvolver Festival?

Opening this week, the fourth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival will offer 11 days of performances from multi-disciplined theatre artists currently breaking on the local and national scene. All events will be held at The Cultch from May 11 to 22. If you are wondering what to see, here’s a few hints and tips to stoke your interest…..

Diversity:

Not only is the festival focused on providing a platform for emerging artists, this year’s line-up reflects the exciting diversity in our theatre community:

  • Seven shows have been created or directed by women: Beowulf, Charisma Furs, Happiness™, Kolejka, I Want to Tell You Something, Never the Last, and Silenced.
  • Seven shows have been created by or with artists of colour in a significant leadership role: Beowulf, Booth Connection, Mis Papás, Never the Last, The New Conformity, odd., and Silenced.
  • The festival continues its history of supporting innovative work by artists from the LGBTQ community (having premiered shows such as Tucked and Plucked: Vancouver’s HERstory Live on Stage and Cocktales with Maria) with Charisma Furs, by Toronto artist Katie Sly.

Award winning performances:

Two critically acclaimed shows will be presented in the Cultch’s Culture Lab, both wielding a wildly comedic approach to intelligent social commentary:

  • Happiness™, by Ottawa-based May Can Theatre, was nominated for four 2015 Prix Rideau Awards for Outstanding Direction, Lighting Design, Performance and Production.
  • Cause & Effects Circus’ The New Conformity received the Joanna Murata Award in 2015 (Vancouver Fringe Festival) and took home Victoria’s Pick of the Fringe Award in 2014.

The same but different….

Two distinct one woman shows in the Founders’ Lounge—I Want to Tell You Something and Charisma Furs—are equally intimate and engaging, and both incorporate origami lessons. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different….

A little Eastern European Culture
There are two music-heavy shows with European backdrops—puppetry, physical theatre and punk music combine to tell the story of a Babushka’s Soviet Russia in Kolejka,  and Never the Last, the latest from Delinquent Theatre, creators of Stationary: A Recession Era Musical  tells the true story of the early centry composer Sophie Carmen Friedman using live classical music, movement and text.

FESTIVAL BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
Full Tickets: $17 ($20 with service charges) | Self Identified Low Income Tickets: $12 ($15 with service charges)
3-show pass: $40/$36 | Available at www.tickets.thecultch.com or 604.251.1363
6-show pass: $84 | Available at www.upintheairtheatre.com/buy-tickets
For full festival schedule: www.revolverfestival.ca

ABOUT REVOLVER THEATRE FESTIVAL:
Under the artistic direction of Daniel Martin and David Mott, the rEvolver Theatre Festival presents high energy and adventurous new works with a focus on supporting local talent since 2013. The festival provides professional presenting opportunities in Vancouver and offers a unique platform to present contemporary cutting-edge script-based theatre, devised works, and site-specific performances by artists ranging from recent graduates to more experienced professionals attempting to grow or transform their practice significantly.

Website: www.upintheairtheatre.com/revolver-festival   |  www.revolverfestival.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/UpintheairTheatre
YouTube: www.youtube.com/UpintheairTheatre
Twitter: www.twitter.com/UITATheatre

Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly`s special offer to The Cultch subscribers

Valkyrie_Logo_Horizontal

Jordan Both has been a regular technician at The Cultch for nearly a decade, and got his start in theatre through our youth program. He’s recently embarked on an exciting new business venture that brings a new twist on fitness to East Vancouver. Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly held its grand opening in October 2015, and has been keeping busy establishing itself as an important community space for martial arts and fitness in the Collingwood neighbourhood.

Valkyrie WMAA1                                                 “A rare pause in boxing class.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

Valkyrie WMAA is co-owned by Kaja Sadowski and Courtney Rice, and is the first female-owned and operated Western Martial Arts school in Canada. Jordan and his fellow instructors teach swordplay, boxing, and wrestling six days per week, and offer a unique training program that combines historical knowledge with modern sport science to turn even the most dedicated couch potato into a fit and happy fighter. Their classes range from 2-hour evening martial arts sessions, to day-long workshops, and quick and cheap 1-hour drop-in fitness classes. There’s something for everybody, regardless of their interests and schedule.

Valkyrie WMAA2                                              “Student Kat Yoshida spars with a rapier.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

The school was recently named a Top 5 Finalist in the “Best Emerging Entrepreneur” category of the Small Business BC Awards, which recognizes a new business that “contributes to the social, cultural and economic well-being of their communities [and] has demonstrated community leadership and entrepreneurial initiative”. The Valkyrie WMAA team sees fitness and martial arts training as an important path to personal transformation, self-esteem, self-reliance, and lifelong health. Unfortunately, this path is closed to many women, older or unfit people, and members of the LGBT community due to hostile environments and poor training models that cater predominantly to fit, straight, men. In the macho, competitive world of mixed martial arts training and high-end fitness, Valkyrie WMAA’s colourful, welcoming space, strict anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and wealth of strong female role models stand out.

Valkyrie WMAA3                                               “Focusing on swordplay drills.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

Like The Cultch, Valkyrie WMAA is committed to supporting diversity and community engagement within its field. In martial arts, that means maintaining a safe space for students of all backgrounds, offering excellent training for every body type, and educating the general public through free online tutorials and low-cost community lectures and workshops.

Valkyrie WMAA4                                            “The Valkyrie WMAA founders at the school grand opening. Left to Right: Courtney Rice, David Packer,

Jordan Both, Kaja Sadowski.” (Photo credit: Carol Both)

They’ve also got a special offer for supporters of The Cultch who want to get in on the swordfighting fun. From now until March 4th, all of our subscribers will receive a free Valkyrie Base 4-class introductory program ($120 value) with the purchase of any credit package. Credits are redeemable for group classes, private lessons, and workshops, can be transferred or shared between multiple students, and never expire. We wish Jordan and his co-workers success with their new business, and look forward to trying out a class for ourselves!

The Cultch receives $130,000 grant from Vancouver Foundation for “Democratizing our Stages” Project

The Cultch and Diwali Fest staff at Nirbhaya Community Engagement meeting1Left to Right, Rohit Chokani & Vineeta Minhas Co-Producers of Diwali Fest, Heather Redfern – Executive Director, Nicole McLuckie – Director of Patron Development, Kim Harvey – Youth Program Manager, Abdel Naroth – Marketing Intern, Ricky Choi – Marketing Coordinator

 

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve received a significant three-year $130,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation for our “Democratizing our Stages” Project! While The Cultch has a long history of diversity, community inclusion, and pushing the boundaries of art to benefit society, this grant will allow us to go even further, challenging the status quo by prioritizing community development and presentation with groups and communities that have not yet engaged with us.

“We are delighted and grateful for Vancouver Foundation’s support,” says executive director Heather Redfern. “I truly believe this is a game-changer. The confidence the Vancouver Foundation has shown in our ability to make significant change is heartening and meaningful not only to The Cultch but to the community partners we will work with on this project over the next three years.”

The project began in earnest this past November when we partnered with Diwali Fest, Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), and Amnesty International to present and engage in community dialogue around Nirbhaya, the internationally acclaimed play inspired by the 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi and featuring the real life testimonials of sexual violence survivors. This was the first year in what will now be an ongoing partnership with Diwali Fest. Other Democratizing our Stages partners include Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT), Dancers of Damelahamid, Neworld Theatre, Neworld Theatre, and Urban Ink, with plans to bring others on board over the course of the project and into the future.

“There is increasing diversity in professional arts practices in Canada, however there are still very few venues that present this work in a mainstage context throughout a season of programming,” says Redfern. “We are interested in talking to people who are not coming to The Cultch. We’ll be partnering with like-minded organizations from the community to diversify the audience that attends these productions, finding innovative ways to provide access to communities. Social exclusion is systemic and can only be reversed by conscious and proactive efforts. The democratization of our stages will happen when cross-cultural communication takes place between artists and communities over and over again, until we reach the point that it feels ordinary, as though it’s always been that way.”

Read more:
The Georgia Straight
Vancouver Presents