This weekend Vancouver’s Under the Volcano Festival of Art and Social Change, held annually at Cates Park in North Vancouver, will celebrate its 20th anniversary and, in the same event, wrap up their long running festival dedicated to celebrating the arts and social activism.
Speaking of the festival to the Westender (which gives a lot of background and context, a good read), the festival’s artistic director Meegan Maultsaid explained: “The most important thing, as a festival, is that we support social activism, that we stand in solidarity with movements and community groups that are fighting and struggling and agitating for change. I don’t think that aspect has been a struggle for us. I think we’ve been able to maintain the popularity of our festival and have it continue to grow while not really participating in corporate culture.”
The festival is organized by a core of 6 people who work year round and do it all unpaid. The team does it ‘as a labour of love’ because they support the work of local activists, community groups, and individuals struggling to find social justice.
“After 20 years of celebrating music, social activism and community, UTV has decided to close this chapter of our history by making our 20th anniversary our final event,” it explains on their website. “We have organized in solidarity with local and global social justice movements and have staunchly supported marginalized peoples struggles. We have survived and thrived and now it’s time to say goodbye. As a non-profit society and collective, we will remain committed to social activism and will continue to organize events in our communities. We cannot emphasize enough the gratitude we feel towards all of our allies and supporters. Much Respect! Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist, keep loving, keep fighting”.
The organizing team has put together an impressive 20th anniversary lineup, and acts on the main stage this year include:
Delhi2Dublin: bhangra-Celtic-electronica mash-up
Naomi Klein and Arthur Manual: Discussion with the award-winning journalist and author alongside indigenous activist Manuel, moderated by journalist Avi Lewis
Veda Hille: One of Vancouver’s most distinctive voices
Declan de Barra: one of Ireland’s most haunting singers
Pluskratch 20 years in 40 minutes: DJ set sampling 20 years worth of UTV artists.
For full details visit the Under the Volcano website.
Last year, Under the Volcano took a financial hit thanks to the rain Vancouverites are all too familiar with. Although it typically broke even, its savings were wiped after seeing a 50% decrease in attendance – down from 4,000 annually. According to the Vancouver Sun the by-donation festival is choosing to sing its swan song in part due to the cut to arts organization funding. Only the city and District of North Vancouver have remained core contributors, with other revenue coming from tickets sold by donation at a recommended price of $10-$20.
In an interview with the Georgia Straight, artistic director Meegan Maultsaid remained positive about their efforts to combine social activism and art. “Twenty years is a long time to keep a non corporate, volunteer-run festival going,” she said. “It’s not a death, it’s a rebirth. We’re going to keep our society going. We’re certainly going to do other activism and arts events as a brand.”