Heart of the City Festival in the Downtown Eastside

The 2020 Heart of the City Festival shines spotlight on Downtown Eastside artists and residents

To thank and honour the much loved and appreciated Carnegie Community Centre, the Festival artistic team is thrilled to produce this year the Tribute to Carnegie’s 40th Anniversary.

Terry Hunter, Artistic Producer, Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

October 26 2020 –

This year’s Heart of the City Festival, an annual cultural and heritage event that gives voice to the Downtown Eastside and its low income residents, cultural communities, and neighbourhoods, is more vital than ever before.

This Gives Us Strength

The 17th annual festival runs from October 28 to November 8 and is embracing the theme, ‘This Gives Us Strength,’ with dynamic events both online and in-person that reflect the strength and resilience of the community that it serves and celebrates. 

The Festival is produced by Vancouver Moving Theatre in association with the Carnegie Community Centre, the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians and over 70 community partners.

The mandate of the festival is to promote, present, and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, history, activism, people, and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

From a five-day storytelling event with performer Rosemary Georgeson (Coast Salish/Dene) and director Donna Spencer to the Spotlight on the East End music event curated by Festival Artist-in-Residence Khari Wendell McClelland, the 12-day festival will feature a multi-disciplinary lineup of online and pop-up outdoor events. 

Carnegie Community Centre celebrates its 40th year

This year’s festival includes a tribute to the Carnegie Community Centre as it celebrates its 40th year. 

“Carnegie plays a vital and central role in the life of the Downtown Eastside. The Centre is the heart of the Downtown Eastside community and is always there with and for community through good times, hard times and pandemic times,” said Terry Hunter, Artistic Producer, Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival. 

“I am so grateful to Carnegie, its staff, volunteers, and association board of directors for their incredible and sustained support of the Festival since its founding in 2004. To thank and honour the much loved and appreciated Carnegie Community Centre, the Festival artistic team is thrilled to produce this year the Tribute to Carnegie’s 40th Anniversary.”

The tribute event will feature former MP Libby Davies in conversation with Am Johal, Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, as they reflect on the opening of Carnegie Community Centre and its legacy in the community, along with music and performances.  

“The City is proud to support the new and innovative approach to this year’s Heart of the City Festival, where residents can enjoy the unparalleled storytelling, music, and poetry by community artists,” said Karla Kloepper, Director of the Carnegie Community Centre. “As we celebrate our 40th year anniversary at Carnegie Community Centre, we are pleased to be able to showcase the arts in the community with a number of live-streamed and pop-up events, and offer a viewing space so that residents without internet access at home can be part of the online events and enjoy the stellar festival lineup.” 

Viewing rooms for livestreamed and pre-recorded events

Viewing rooms where Downtown Eastside community members can watch the livestreamed and pre-recorded events are being hosted throughout the festival at Carnegie Community Centre and the InterUrban Gallery.

There will also be screening outposts at Evelyne Saller Centre, 312 Main, WISH, Atira Women’s Society and Japanese Hall.

We encourage people attending in-person events to wear face masks at public events, wash your hands or use hand-sanitizer, practice physical distancing, treat others with respect, and greet people with a smile and a wave of the hand. 

To see the full program of events and register for the online events at the festival, visit the website  and take a look at the program guide .