Coronavirus (COVID-19) recent updates

A message from the Queer Arts Festival and SUM gallery regarding COVID-19:

Update — March 24th 2020:

The SUM Gallery exhibit Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements is closed to public access until further notice due to the Sun Wah Centre closure as of Monday, March 23rd. SUM Gallery staff are continuing to work remotely and can be contacted at for additional information. Stay tuned as we work to move Programming into an online format during this time.

We are currently exploring digital platforms for keeping our other programming accessible. This includes:

  • Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements Grave Sweeping and Closing Ceremony, originally scheduled on April 4th. 
  • The Annual General Meeting and UnSettled Catalogue Launch, originally scheduled for April 15th, has been rescheduled for June 17th and may be an online forum if necessary.

We are postponing certain events until further notice:

  • March 19th and March 26th sessions of jaye simpson’s Storytelling & Poetry Writing Workshop series at Mt Pleasant Community Centre, as per the city’s closure of community centres.
  • Cultivate: Monthly Artist Circle at the SUM Gallery on April 11th.

We will announce when the gallery reopens to the public. We are currently exploring digital platforms for keeping our other programming accessible, please check our website regularly for upcoming updates.


Staff will be working remotely during regular hours and can be contacted at The QAF and SUM Gallery remain steadfast in our commitment to artists in these uncertain times and we are looking forward to returning to regular programming as soon as possible.


Please check CRA government website for more information here.


Queer Arts Festival 2020: WICKED 
Jul 2-12, 2o2o | FULL PROGRAM TO COME!

“Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious
attractiveness of others.”

Oscar Wilde

This past decade has seen the mainstreaming of gay; sexual difference wins approval so long as it is palatable, marketable, and doesn’t stray too far from bourgeois notions of taste and morality. Our 2020 theme Wicked reimagines identity politics, exposing the implications of homonormativity as erasure. The commodification of queer experience is inextricably linked to the pathologization of the queer body, where medical and sociological interventions adjudicate which anatomies and passions are accepted as authentic. What do we lose—who do we lose—if we accept induction into the dominant order, and reframe ourselves as a “moral minority”?

There’s no place like home for the Wicked Witch of the West, green by devilment and through her magical aberrance. QAF 2020 forsakes the yellow brick road that leads only to a man behind a curtain gentrifying our desires. Instead, for 11 days of visual art, performance, theatre, music, dance and literary events, we invite you to revel in the quintessentially queer traditions of scandal and excess. 

Highlights include Jonny Sopotiuk’s visual arts curation; choreographer Noam Gagnon’s raucously vulnerable biographical exploration of madness, This Crazy Show; Too Spirited Indigenous Burlesque with Virago Nation and Leaving Kansas, a community-engaged participatory concert from Jerry Pergolesi and Louise Campbell.

The Garden: Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa in Recital

Thu, 13 February 2020 | 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM PST

Solo piano recital by Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa of works by queer & trans composers, including Rodney Sharman, Ann Southam & Mary Jane Paquette 

Celebrated contemporary piano virtuoso Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa performs a solo recital of queer and trans composers. The programme centres around the work of composer Rodney Sharman, as Rachel prepares to record his complete solo piano works. It will feature world premieres by Sharman and Mary Jane Paquette, paired with works by Ann Southam.

The concert takes its name from Rodney’s notorious music theatre piece The Garden, in which a man visits a gay sex club for the first time and finds his life transformed by a single, perfect kiss. Theatre direction by David Bloom.

Reception to follow.

Pyatt Hall is on the second floor of the VSO School of Music, accessible by elevator, with wheelchair accessible seating and bathrooms.

About the artist

Hailed in the press as a “keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse” (Georgia Straight) with the “emotional intensity” to take a piece “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa is recognized among Canada’s foremost contemporary music pianists. Check this website >

2019: rEvolution

Visual art Curator: Elwood Jimmy

We often think of revolution in relation to ways of knowing, but we rarely think about revolution in relation to our colonial habits of being—how our habits are dependent on, maintained and enabled by colonization. A revolution of being is not about what we say, how we look, how we  perform, or how we trade in the different economies of colonial modernity. A revolution of being invites us to change our desires, our hopes, how we hope, how we sense, how we love, and above all, regenerate and recalibrate our relationships with each other, with the land, with time, with form and with space. In this recalibration of being, time and revolution are not linear.


Image Gallery

Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements

Curated by Love Intersections

Feb 1 – Apr 18, 2020 | Opening Reception: Feb 1, 4-6 pm

Yellow Peril; The Celestial Elements is a visual art exhibit inspired by the Chinese Five Elemental forces, seized by the urgent tensions between Queer Chinese diasporic identities. A collection of multichannel installations, visual and sculptural activations provoke a cosmic encounter of our living past and present as we ‘race’ towards a healing future. These elemental activations attempt to collapse the linear temporality to dislodge an emotional, spiritual, cosmological, and metaphysical enunciation of our Queer ‘Chineseness’. Rather than focus on the trauma that queer people of colour face, this project is fundamentally an invitation to an exuberant celebration of queerness that is unabashedly Chinese.

We invite you to celebrate with us. Featuring artists Jen Sungshine, Kendell Yan, Kai Cheng Thom, Jay Cabalu, and David Ng.

28 things to do in Vancouver this week: June 17 to 20

Posted in the DailyHive, June 17

What: An annual artist-run multi-disciplinary summer arts festival at the Roundhouse in Vancouver, BC. QAF produces, presents and exhibits with a curatorial vision favouring challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue. Each year, the festival theme ties together a curated visual art exhibition, performing arts series, workshops, artist talks, panels, and media art screenings.

When: Monday, June 17 to Friday, June 28, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: The Roundhouse – 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver; Sum gallery – 268 Keefer St, Vancouver
Tickets: Online

Posted in the DailyHive, June 17

7 Things to do in Vancouver Today

Posted: Daily Hive, June 17, 2019

What: An annual artist-run multi-disciplinary summer arts festival at the Roundhouse in Vancouver, BC. QAF produces, presents and exhibits with a curatorial vision favouring challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries and initiates dialogue. Each year, the festival theme ties together a curated visual art exhibition, performing arts series, workshops, artist talks, panels, and media art screenings.

When: Monday, June 17 to Friday, June 28, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: The Roundhouse – 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver; Sum gallery – 268 Keefer St, Vancouver
Tickets: Online

See original post.

5 Things to do this weekend: Friday, June 14, 2019

By Jon AzpiriOnline News Producer  Global News

Here are five things to do around the province this weekend.

1 — 5X Festival Block Party
June 15
Central City Plaza, Surrey

2 — Queer Arts Festival
June 17-28
Various locations, Vancouver

3 — Father’s Day Open House
June 16, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Historic Stewart Farm, Surrey

4 — Father’s Day Old Car Sunday in the Park
June 16, 10 a.m.
Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission

5 — Truck Stop Concert Series
June 15
Red Truck Beer Company, Vancouver

First posted by Jon AzpiriOnline News Producer  Global News

Five things to see and do at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival

John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier | JUNE 14, 2019 02:00 PM

It’s not kismet that this year’s Queer Arts Festival ends on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Flashback to June 28, 1969 in New York City, in what was the touchstone moment for gay rights in both the U.S. and Canada.

Police raided an underground gay bar in Manhattan and all hell broke loose. Violent counter demonstrations broke out in the aftermath. It was high time for America, and the world at large, to take a long look in the mirror.

Within a year, the first gay pride marches were happening in major U.S. cities. Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969. Gay rights groups were operating across North
America by 1971.

In that spirit, the Courier presents five things to see and do over the course of the festival, which runs June 17 to 28 at the Roundhouse Arts Centre.

Crown the Queen 

Teiya Kasahara riffs on gender, stereotypes and expectations against an operatic backdrop in her production of The Queen in Me. The show runs at 7 p.m. on both June 21 and 22 and recalls Kasahara’s time as a professional opera singer and how they reconciles those experiences as a queer, feminist, person of colour.

The TKO trio 

Happening now and running daily until June 22, the TKO Lab experience is a female-centred music production drop-in lab for queer, Indigenous and allied youth. The free workshops are led by Kinnie Starr, DJ O Show and Tiffany Moses, who help participants with hands-on training in poetry, spoken word, DJing processes and electronic music platforms such as Ableton, Pro Tools and Logic. The whole thing wraps up with a collaborative performance June 23. Signing up in advance is encouraged and info on how to do so is online at

Dialing in the diaspora 

The Frank Theatre Company gives a voice to experiences of refugees and immigrants in the LGBTQ+ community with a performance of Diaspora. The pay-what-you-can performance is rolled out in text, video and physical theatre formats, asking audiences to examine and look beyond what it means to a member of the community outside of the western world. The performance will be led Frank’s artistic director Fay Nass, along with immigrant artists and community members. Diaspora is slated for 7 p.m. on June 25.

The Queer Songbook Orchestra rounds out the closing night of the festival on June 28. – Photo supplied by Tanja Tiziana Photography

Ready, set, orchestra 

The Queer Songbook Orchestra sets the table on closing night with a celebration of queer backstories and narratives from yesteryear. Those stories will be woven together by local narrators Monica Meneghetti and Jaye Simpson and some of the nation’s more well-known composers including. The show gets rolling at 7 p.m. on June 28.

End game 

The festival’s 12-day run wraps up with shaker central in the form of the Stonewall 50: Glitter is Forever Party. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of what helped spawn modern-day Pride events, the Glitter is Forever party’s tagline is “Stonewall was a riot — now, we dance!”

Festival passes, dates, times and more info is available online at

John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier | JUNE 14, 2019 02:00 PM

#FridayFive: Queer Arts Festival

By Vancouver Presents – June 14, 2019

This year’s Queer Arts Festival runs June 17-28 at the Roundhouse Community Centrenull

With the 50th anniversaries of the decriminalisation of Canadian sodomy laws (June 27) and Stonewall (June 29) approaching, this year’s Queer Arts Festival remembers with twelve days of multi-disciplinary queer arts at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

With nearly 100 artists and more than 20 events under this year’s theme of rEvolution, here are five performances we think you should check out:

1. A Night of Storytelling (June 19)

Back for its fourth year, Danny Ramadan curates another evening of readings from LGBTQ2+ voices in the CanLit scene. This year’s featured artists include Kai Cheng Thom, Tash McAdam, Monica Meneghetti, and Michael V. Smith.

Michael V. Smith is one of the featured readers at this year's A Night of Storytelling.
Michael V. Smith is one of the featured readers at this year’s A Night of Storytelling. Photo by Sarah Race.

2. The Queen in Me (June 20)

Exploding operatic expectations, soprano Teiya Kasahara explores the constraints of conventional opera roles combining original text with classic arias.

Teiya Kasahara performs in The Queen in Me as part of this year's Queer Arts Festival. Photo by Henry Chan.
Teiya Kasahara performs in The Queen in Me as part of this year’s Queer Arts Festival. Photo by Henry Chan.

3. Technical Knockouts (June 23)

This multidisciplinary music and performance showcase features the young artists from QAF’s music lab, mentored by Kinnie Starr, DJ O Show and Tiffany Moses.Advertisement

Tiffany Moses is one of the mentors behind Technical Knockouts at this year's QAF.
Tiffany Moses is one of the mentors behind Technical Knockouts at this year’s QAF.

4. Jesse – An ASL Opera (June 24)

Deaf playwright and performer, Landon Krentz presents a workshop reading of his new opera. Integrating sign language, the opera is the story of one man’s journey of self-discovery as he navigates Deaf culture, queerness and his place in a hearing world.

Landon Krentz and re:Naissance Opera perform in a workshop reading of the new opera Jesse.
Landon Krentz and re:Naissance Opera perform in a workshop reading of the new opera Jesse.

5. Queer Songbook Orchestra (June 28)

National chamber ensemble Queer Songbook Orchestra unearth the queer backstories and personal narratives inspired by music of past generations. The evening’s performance will be followed by this year’s closing party, Stonewall 50 Glitter is Forever.

Toronto's Queer Songbook Orchestra returns to Vancouver as part of this year's QAF. Photo by Tanja Tiziana.
Toronto’s Queer Songbook Orchestra returns to Vancouver as part of this year’s QAF. Photo by Tanja Tiziana.

The 11th Annual Queer Arts Festival runs June 17-28 at the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver). Visit for tickets and information.

By Vancouver Presents – June 14, 2019

Queer Arts Festival’s show Relational rEvolutions questions the future

Georgia Straight by Alexander Varty on June 12th, 2019 at 1:08 PM

Although the Relational rEvolutions visual-arts exhibition sounds like it might offer controversy and confrontation, that’s definitely not the point. Instead, says curator Elwood Jimmy, the Queer Arts Festival show is the very opposite of a Twitter flamefest.

“We’ve lost the ability to disagree with each other without relationships falling apart,” he notes in a telephone interview from UBC, where he’s presenting at the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. “It just feels like we’ve ended up in this very peculiar space.”

In this pressurized time, he goes on to explain, racism, nationalism, and especially environmental collapse are dividing families, communities, and countries. Discourse is growing ugly; witness Alberta’s recent demonization of environmental activists and, by extension, free speech.

So when he was given the opportunity to curate Relational rEvolutions, Jimmy began by wondering how he might facilitate asking questions about our future—but “in a gentle way”.

“There are really many of us thinking about our environmental future: what does that look like, and what does that feel like, and what does that sound like?” he says. “And the question I ask myself, as an individual, is ‘What is my personal responsibility in this?’ I’ve been working in the arts for 20 years, and I just started thinking ‘Well, if this is the skill set I’ve cultivated within myself, how do I use the arts to further deepen my engagement with environmental issues and climate change? What does that look like on a human level? And how do we work together to do this, even in times of extreme polarization?’ ”

As its title suggests, then, Relational rEvolutions stresses the relational and the evolutionary over the revolutionary; address how we treat and mistreat each other, and change will come. And Jimmy’s “we” is inclusive. Not only does it include queer and straight, Indigenous and settler, it incorporates the nonhuman as well.

“There are a lot of works that are done in collaboration, and sometimes collaboration may not be so obvious,” he says of the upcoming show. “I’m thinking of some of the work that’s really in collaboration with the land. There’s an emerging artist from Toronto, Jessica Karuhanga, who does these lovely video works. She calls them collaborations, and I would call them collaborations as well—collaborations with the land. They’re performances and dance pieces within water and within reeds and these kinds of things. And I guess, for me, those works show how our bodies actually move through and navigate the Earth. You know, how are we interacting with the Earth and the nonhuman with our own bodies?”

Jimmy, a member of the Thunderchild First Nation of northern Saskatchewan, also cites two-spirited Ojibwa artist Raven Davis’s work It’s Not Your Fault, a video response to the vicious white supremacism that’s found a home online.

“It’s just a very simple video of somebody in ceremony, and they have an audio track of them singing over it,” he explains. “But it’s quite jarring, because they take some of the comments that they’ve read online and contrast the gentleness and the tenderness that they’re trying to cultivate within themself and within their community with this avalanche of absolute hatred coming from regular Canadians. The contrast is quite jarring, and….You’re left wondering ‘How can we ever bridge this chasm, this emotional chasm?’ How do you make people have compassion? How do we even begin to bring people’s humanity back, and how do we get people to see other people as humans again?”

For now, Jimmy adds, neither he nor Relational rEvolutions can offer any conclusive answers to these hard questions—but by asking them he hopes that we can at least begin to value the land, the “other”, and ourselves.

The Queer Arts Festival presents Relational rEvolutions at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre from Monday (June 17) to June 26.

See original article here.

Opera gets inclusive at Queer Arts Fest

Georgia Straight by Janet Smith on June 12th, 2019 at 1:27 PM

Soprano Teiya Kasahara has always had a passion for performing opera, but the singer was feeling more and more conflicted about the two-dimensional, gendered female roles offered on-stage.

“I’m racialized, queer, tattooed, I have a shaved head, and I have to cover these things to be accepted,” the LGBT artist tells the Straight over the phone from home in Toronto.

It was during her eighth time playing the Queen of the Night, in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute, that Kasahara had finally had enough. The soprano was done with roles that portray women as either evil and strong or good, pure, and fragile. The conservative art form was feeling less and less inclusive.

“I wanted to critique that with an opera,” Kasahara explains. “And it was really important to me to comment on opera as a machine. I wanted to talk about this being beautiful work and amazing music. I love to sing and that’s the way I feel most free and most full. But the art form, in how it’s developed, also denies so much of who I am.”

The result is The Queen in Me, one of two shows at this year’s Queer Arts Festival that upend traditional opera in radical new ways.

Kasahara traces the frustration back about six years, to when the singer was again tackling the coloratura soprano part of the terrifying Queen of the Night. The character is introduced as a desperate mother whose beloved daughter Pamina has been kidnapped, but she becomes the villain of the story, demanding Pamina commit a murder to ensure her power. “It was just being plopped in at the last moment, where the whole team was overlooking the complexity of this character,” Kasahara recalls, pointing out that the Queen is on-stage for about 12 minutes total and sings what is probably the opera’s most famous aria, “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (“The vengeance of hell boils in my heart”). But Kasahara struggled to find in-depth research or back story on the Queen. “She’s portrayed as evil and ambitious and willing to throw her daughter under the bus to get what she wants,” Kasahara says. “It’s very sexist and misogynist. So I thought I wanted to stop the opera so she could finally say who she was.”

That’s exactly what Kasahara does with the theatre-opera meld The Queen in Me, with the curtain rising in midperformance of The Magic Flute, as the Queen begins her well-known aria. Then the character rebels and refuses to finish the opera. Using a mix of spoken word, Mozart’s score, and other famous soprano music, the Queen reveals her own story.

“She starts advocating for all the sopranos that have played her over the last 200-something years and all the characters who have had to become mad or fallen,” says Kasahara. In opera, the artist points out, sopranos often either have to kill themselves out of madness (hello, Madama Butterfly) or have to die from illness (Mimi in La Bohème).

And then the character fades away, and Kasahara unpacks personal experiences of gender and racial bias in the world of opera. “My inspiration was having to discover my gender queerness over the last eight or nine years,” Kasahara explains.

Kasahara developed the work outside of the traditional opera industry, starting with an internship with Theatre Gargantua in Toronto, then in the emerging-artists unit at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

These days, the singer is devoted to projects like Amplified Opera. “Our mission is creating a space for equity,” Kasahara explains of the collaboration with director Aria Umezawa. “On an indie level my colleagues and I are having these conversations, and we’re trying to find opportunities to create conversations at the mainstream level.”

Response to The Queen in Me has given Kasahara extra motivation. “Colleagues were coming up to me—ones who aren’t even sopranos, who have complex identities too—and they were not feeling seen and not feeling that they could voice who they really are,” Kasahara says. “They were saying, ‘Thank you, someone is finally saying this.’ A lot of us are feeling these things and had not had the courage to stand up and say it.”

Landon Krentz and a creative team of hearing and nonhearing artists will give audiences a workshop reading of Jesse—An ASL Opera, with a libretto inspired by Krentz’s own experience of growing up deaf.

Vancouver’s Landon Krentz seeks to reimagine opera in an even more revolutionary way at the Queer Arts Festival.

There, he and a creative team of hearing and deaf artists will let audiences in on an early reading of Jesse—An ASL Opera. Its libretto is inspired by Krentz’s own experience of growing up deaf: the constant visits to what he calls the “black box of the audiologists’ department”, and his liberation through deaf culture and language.

While it may be hard for hearing people to imagine an opera expressed not just through music but through sign language, the fit felt natural to this LGBT artist.

“Opera is rich in culture and history that I believe is parallel with deaf culture and history,” he explains, communicating with the Straight through email. “Our language, ASL [American Sign Language], is very much like music. It has a series of movements and rhythm that have a wide musical range. The ability to express music with ASL will be seen in the opera through the way I use signs, movements, and math. It is the perfect language to portray different emotional messages that are heard with the eyes.”

With the support of local company re:Naissance Opera, he’s experimented with a group of artists who have experience with deaf culture. They include Regina composer Paula Weber (the child of a deaf adult), opera singer Heather Molloy (who has a deaf niece), re:Naissance producer Debi Wong (who has taken ASL classes), and deaf elder John Warren.

Because this is such new ground, Krentz has had to invent a way of writing a bilingual libretto, using ASL gloss (the written form of the sign language, with notations to describe facial expressions and gestures) and English. Weber has been observing the movements of the ASL libretto as it is performed and then composing the music based on that. The goal is an opera that both hearing and nonhearing audiences can enjoy.

“Historically, deaf artists have had to adapt to music and English theatre in ways that diminish the quality of our language,” explains Krentz, who sought sign-language theatrical training in Scandinavia before bringing the approach back here. “The goal is to implement intersectional practices where deaf artists like myself are leading the artistic process in order to achieve better results. To do this kind of work, it takes an incredibly skilled deaf artist who understands the demands of deaf theatre, English and ASL, and the theatrical contexts. There are not many of us in Canada.”

The goal is to debut the full opera by 2021. In the meantime, Krentz hopes the peek at this hugely ambitious project will open arts fans’ and artists’ minds to the possibilities of opera and theatre.

“We hope that the audience will walk away with a new understanding of what is possible in deaf theatre and to inspire them to consider working with deaf talents,” he says. “Deaf theatre for the deaf is vital and necessary to improve the lives and safety of the deaf community, as is the willingness and commitment from hearing artists to learn to adapt to their practice and become allies.”

The Queer Arts Festival presents The Queen in Me on June 21 and 22, and a workshop reading of Jesse—An ASL Opera on June 24.

View original article here.