Performance artists make hopeful return to BC festival stages


The summer of 2022 has given performing artists across BC a taste of much-needed opportunities and live audience connections to reinvigorate flagging careers.

According to the Canadian Performing Arts Association, one in four arts, entertainment and recreation workers lost their jobs when events were canceled across Canada in 2020. July and August saw an upsurge in festivals, large-scale performances and indoor events, a relief for artists and audiences.

CBC spoke to three artists from various disciplines to find out what the return to gatherings has meant and what has changed for them.

The pivot

Nanaimo-based DJ and electronic music producer Mat Andrew is known by his stage name – Mat, the Alien.

For over 25 years Andrew had built a successful career with a substantial following on the West Coast, relying primarily on live performances for his income.

Mat Andrew, also known as Mat the Alien, suffered a near-fatal neck injury while mountain biking in 2020. (Russell Dalby)

But in 2020, not only was Andrew’s career derailed by the pandemic, he suffered a near-fatal neck injury while mountain biking one day.

Andrew says that despite the challenges, nothing can stop his love of music.

« Do something you love, if you have that passion for it then you will do it no matter what. »

After returning to the stage this summer, Mat is focusing on his label, Really Good Recordings, expanding his musical repertoire and continuing to grow his brand from the studio.

On the coast9:10Keeping The Dream Alive: the joy of live performances

A new series called « Keeping The Dream Alive » begins today. This week we celebrate the music, art and artists who have returned to festival stages across British Columbia this summer. Join us for more from Read-Mercer recipient and journalist Hollie McGowan.

A bolder return to the stage

Joanne Tsung was a full-time Apple employee and occasional comedian before the 2020 shutdowns. When she started performing virtually during the pandemic, Tsung found it gave her the confidence to pursue a career in acting. comedy with more determination.

A woman wearing a pink boa stands in front of a pink curtain.
Joanne Tsung found virtual performances gave her the confidence to pursue a career in comedy. (Jenn Bowie)

By mixing two of her favorite hobbies, Tsung found she could relax more while performing online comedy.

« [I was] getting messages from people saying, « Oh my god, your cooking videos are so funny! » or ‘Oh my God, like what you said about it. And now I really want to try this recipe… This format allowed me to build on what I already knew was the fun part of me.

Now, Joanne is performing weekly as a comic and on stage again as theaters have reopened.

On the coast11:09Keeping The Dream Alive: actress Joanne Tsung returns to the stage

Langara Read Mercer colleague Hollie McGowan brings us another entry in our « Keeping The Dream Alive » series, with today’s focus on comedian Joanne Tsung and her return to the stage with renewed purpose.

‘Just cherish it’

Vancouver-based Skye Carter is thrilled to be back on stage this summer because for a while she didn’t know when work would resume.

In 2019, Carter had just completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. She was excited to launch her career when the live performances suddenly stopped, and so did the opportunities she was hoping for.

A woman is dancing on the beach.
Shion Skye Carter says she didn’t know when she would be able to return to work. (Submitted by Shion Skye Carter)

For new artists like Carter, this summer has been the fresh start they’ve been waiting for.

« To see people so engaged in festivals, arts organizations and arts events is so encouraging, to know that people are invested in the arts and curious and interested, » she said.

« It’s hard to predict, and I try to take it day by day and really enjoy every moment that I have to be in a dance studio…so I try to take it one at a time. times and just cherish as much as I can. I don’t know exactly what the fall will bring.

On the coast8:22Keeping The Dream Alive: 21-year-old dancer who used confinement to dive inside

Today, our special series on the return of the performing arts to BC stages continues. It’s called Keeping the Dream Alive. For artists starting their careers in 2020, the public health shutdowns have been particularly devastating. Producer Hollie McGowan visited the Powell Street festival this year to speak to a local dancer about the internal journey from despair to the stage.

This story is part a special series, keep the dream alive, Featured on CBC Radio One and CBC Vancouver News about the experiences of local artists as they return to the stages of the Lower Mainland.



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