The “Gathering Festival” is a multidimensional and multi-day community festival that celebrates the diversity and unique make up of Vancouver’s Downtown South with four weeks of free public art workshops and programs leading to three days of celebrations at Emery Barnes Park (Davie and Seymour St.) around the summer solstice.
The Gathering Festival is an engagement process. It celebrates the common ground between divergent and contrasting community members and is an opportunity to meet and bring together organizations and individuals in the neighbourhood to discover more about their needs, interests and vision for the community. The festival also draws upon and highlights many of the celebration days in June including Bike to Work Week, Summer Solstice, Senor’s Week, Access Awareness Day and others.
Over the several weeks of the festival more than 2000 free meals are provided by the DSGPCCA, the Gathering Place Community Centre and other participating groups. The festival also features bicycle repairs and demonstrations, wheelchair dance performances, seniors’ art displays and performances, aboriginal canoe displays and drum performances, cedar weaving, heritage tours, Ivana Kupala, Solstice wreath weaving, pet care, lantern making and more. Many of the local social service agencies participate in the festival with information booths, art activities, free food and various services. Along with the many professional musicians, opportunities are created for semi professional and amateur performers as well.
The Park: Emery Barnes Park is the largest open park in Vancouver’s downtown core. The park was officially opened in September 2003 and named for Emery Barnes, a long-time community activist and member of the BC legislature. The Park and Vancouver’s Downtown South neighbourhood is among the most diverse and contrasting communities in western Canada. It is surrounded by lavish condominium towers and major cultural institutions like the Vancity Theatre (home of the Vancouver International Film Festival) and the Scotia Bank Dance Centre. At the same time there are multiple social service agencies aiding a significant disadvantaged and marginalized population that lives in the shadows of the apartment towers. The Gathering Festival is about building bridges, partnerships and understanding amongst and between these diverse groups. It helps to animate the park and encourages the development of more public art and community celebration such as banners, permanent and ephemeral art installations, live performances and social gatherings.