BC Scene

The arts and culture of British Columbia come to Ottawa/Gatineau

April 21 to May 3, 2009

Media Centre

The National Arts Centre announces BC Scene: 600 artists 90 events 30 venues 13 days

Monday, September 8, 2008

VANCOUVER—Canada’s National Arts Centre today announced the first programming details of BC Scene, a dazzling multi-disciplinary arts festival that will take place in Ottawa-Gatineau from April 21 to May 3, 2009. Part of a series of national festivals exploring Canada’s cultural panorama, BC Scene will celebrate a dynamic culture that is a fusion of traditional and contemporary, East and West, and established and emerging artists.

In what will be the largest gathering of British Columbia artists ever presented outside of the province, BC Scene will feature 600 artists from disciplines as varied as music, theatre, dance, visual and media arts, literature and culinary arts in more than 30 venues around the National Capital Region.

Among those in attendance for this unique showcase of B.C. artists will be more than 60 Canadian and international presenters – producers, buyers, or talent scouts – to discover B.C. talent and bring it back to their own audiences.

To help in the colossal task of producing a festival of this size and scope, Heather Moore, Producer and Executive Director of BC Scene, has called on a team of B.C.-based artistic advisors including Doug Cox (music), Rachel Ditor (Theatre), Helga Pakasaar (Visual and Media arts), Alma Lee (Literature), and Geraldine Manossa (First Nations and Métis programming). They have brought their extensive knowledge and expertise and joined forces with dozens of B.C.-based creators, artists and producers consulted by BC Scene to develop a program that reflects B.C.’s contemporary cultural landscape.

“The arts scene in British Columbia is incredibly vibrant and passionate,” said Ms. Moore. “All of these artists are well-known and loved in B.C., but that’s not necessarily the case in the rest of Canada. To be able to showcase these artists to new audiences is an enormous privilege and a reason for all of us to celebrate.”

Also today, various BC Scene partners expressed their support for British Columbia artists:

“The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadians with the opportunity to experience the diversity of this country’s arts and culture,” said the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women and Minister for La Francophonie. “I am proud that our Government is collaborating with both public and private partners to showcase B.C. artists and encourage the growth of the cultural sector in the West.”

“Through this funding, our Government is promoting the growth of B.C.’s cultural and artistic landscape, said the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety. “Artists are a central part of B.C.’s cultural and economic success. Today’s announcement is one example of how our Government is assisting British Columbia's artists in reaching their dynamic potential.”

"This festival is a tremendous opportunity," said Bill Bennett, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. "Not only to showcase B.C.'s diversity and creativity, but also to remind Canadians of the world-class arts and culture experiences available in our province."

“PlascoEnergy is proud to support British Columbia artists in this national event at the NAC,” said Roderick M. Bryden, President and CEO, Plasco Energy Group, the Presenting Sponsor of BC Scene. “We are excited to be part of this great initiative.”

“The NAC has a long and storied history of presenting British Columbia’s most exciting artists,” said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf. “The National Arts Centre is delighted to be using the BC Scene festival to showcase British Columbia’s established and emerging talent to the rest of Canada…and to the world."

Today’s announcement represents about half of the full programming of BC Scene, with the balance to be announced in February 2009.

The programming details announced include some of B.C.’s most thought-provoking theatre companies and artists: Kamloops’ Western Canada Theatre and the NAC English Theatre will join forces to present George Ryga’s celebrated play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe; Theatre Replacement’s BIOBOXES will feature an eclectic collection of short one-person shows for one-person audiences;   Radix Theatre Society brings its two-time Jessie Richardson award-winning play Assembly; Théâtre la Seizième’s La vue d’en haut will be co-presented by BC Scene and Ottawa’s Théâtre la Catapulte; and B.C. playwright Michele Riml’s Rage will also be produced in French.

On the dance front, Ballet British Columbia will perform the intensely powerful A Streetcar Named Desire.  BC Scene will include the world premiere of a new work by Canada’s most exciting dancer-choreographer, Crystal Pite, with her company Kidd Pivot. The gifted Wen Wei Wang, with his company Wen Wei Dance, will also premiere a new work. And Vancouver’s wildly successful Dances for a Small Stage moves to Ottawa to feature work by eight of B.C.’s most innovative established and emerging choreographers.

The music of BC Scene will be as varied and eclectic as the West Coast itself.

On the classical side, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and conductor Bramwell Tovey will perform in Ottawa for the first time since 1976. The concert will feature rising young Vancouver pianist Avan Yu performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.  The program will also include a composition by Jeffrey Ryan, the VSO’s former composer-in-residence. The Vancouver Opera in Schools’ new children’s opera, Jack Pine, with music and libretto by Veda Hille, will be at the festival for a number of family and school performances.  B.C.’s legendary brothers Jon Kimura Parker and James Parker will perform a joint piano recital. In addition, James will collaborate with Prince George native Jonathan Crow on a chamber music program. The National Arts Centre Orchestra, under the direction of CBC Radio Orchestra Principal Conductor Alain Trudel, will perform a free concert featuring two newly commissioned works by Jocelyn Morlock and Doug Smith, as well as work by Rodney Sharman.  Other highlights include B.C.’s daring and energetic Hard Rubber Orchestra led by John Korsrud, and recitals by the Borealis String Quartet, renowned vocal ensemble musica intima, and clarinetist François Houle.

From here, BC Scene branches off to cover a wide array of musical styles and genres.

B.C.’s rich folk and roots community will be well-represented during the festival. Valdy will host a concert of B.C. music legends, including Shari Ulrich, Will Millar and Barney Bentall. Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, and the Sojourners will get together for a fabulous evening of gospel and blues music. Leading bluegrass artists John Reischman and the Jaybirds and Jenny Lester and Hungry Hill will perform together, and Carolyn Mark and Cousin Harley are on the bill for an evening of rockabilly and rebel country. Singer-songwriter Josée Allard will be featured with fellow francophones Saint-Pierre and Danielle Hébert, and Vancouver’s multi-talented Veda Hille will share the stage with Penny Lang for an intimate acoustic concert.

World, jazz and blues artists who will perform during BC Scene include: Mei Han and Red Chamber, one of Canada’s preeminent Chinese music ensembles; virtuoso guitarist Celso Machado with versatile percussionist Sal Ferreras; jazz vocalist Kate Hammett-Vaughan with acclaimed guitarist Bill Coon; the extraordinary tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake and pianist Chris Gestrin; trumpeter Brad Turner and his quartet; and blues and boogie-woogie piano star Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.

BC Scene will also put the spotlight on BC’s hottest indie rock and urban artists who will take over the Ottawa club scene during the festival. These acts will be announced throughout the fall and winter.

Visual and Media arts
BC Scene will feature dozens of established and emerging visual and media artists who will present their work in exhibitions and events at galleries throughout Ottawa-Gatineau. The National Gallery of Canada will present Nomads, a thematic exhibition featuring works by Gareth Moore, Geoffrey Farmer, Myfanwy MacLeod, Hadley & Maxwell, and Althea Thauberger. The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography will mount a solo exhibition of works by photographer Scott McFarland. BC Scene and the City of Ottawa will co-present Centre A’s multi-disciplinary exhibition A Little Distillery in Nowgong at the Karsh-Masson Gallery featuring the work of Ashok Mathur, Brendan Tang and Diyan Achadi. Work by Sonny AssuSamuel Roy-Bois, Brendan Tang, and Rhonda Weppler/Trevor Mahovsky will be on display at the Contemporary Galleries of the Ottawa Art Gallery, while their Firestone Galleries will feature Western Canadian Painters of the 50’s and 60’s including  Peter Aspell, B.C. Binning, Lawren S. Harris, Don Jarvis, Toni Onley, Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith and  Takao Tanabe. Victoria artist Sandra Meigs will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Carleton University Art Gallery. Beat Nation: Hip Hop as an Indigenous Culture, organized by Vancouver’s grunt gallery, will be presented at SAW Gallery. And the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC) will also bring SWARM, Vancouver’s highly-successful gallery tour and party, to the National Capital’s art galleries and artist-run centres for what promises to be an unforgettable night.    


On the literary front, spoken word and poetry slam virtuoso Shane Koyczan takes the stage while musician Sal Ferreras, with his all-star band Poetic License, will host Literary Cabaret, a favourite of Vancouver International Writers Festival audiences. Writers confirmed for the event so far include Richard Van Camp and Anosh Irani.

Culinary Arts

Finally, B.C. food and wine will be front and centre throughout the two-week festival. Celebrity chefs and award-winning wineries will be on hand for a series of mouth-watering dinners and wine tasting events. 

BC Scene is the fourth in a series of national festivals produced by the NAC that began with Atlantic Scene (2003), Alberta Scene (2005) and Quebec Scene (2007). All three Scenes were major successes that exposed artists to new audiences, national and international presenters, and drew unprecedented media coverage for the participating artists and arts organizations.


A multitude of public and private organizations have come together to make BC Scene a reality.

BC Scene would like to thank the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support of this event.

The National Arts Centre and National Arts Centre Foundation also extend warm thank you to the B.C. Strategy Council, a group of committed individuals whose leadership, support and guidance are key to the success of BC Scene. The B.C. Strategy Council is led by Honorary Chairs Milton and Fei Wong, Chair Donald B. Rix.

The NAC Foundation also gratefully acknowledges the support of Presenting Partner Plasco Energy Group, Special Partners The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts in British Columbia, Martha Lou Henley, Milton and Fei Wong and Dr. Donald B. Rix. Acknowledgment is also extended to Major Partner Enbridge Inc. and Supporting Partners the Holiday Inn and Screen Siren Pictures. For their commitment and support of B.C. arts and artists, we give special thanks to the NAC Friends – B.C. BC Scene Media Partners include CBC/Radio-Canada, The National Post, Vancouver Magazine and Western Living, The Ottawa Citizen, LeDroit, andThe Vancouver Sun.

BC Scene would also like to thank the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council for their valuable assistance.

For more information about BC Scene or to sign up for programming updates, please consult the event website.
Carl Martin
National Arts Centre
(613) 947-7000, ext. 560
Cell : (613) 291-8880

Media Contacts

Laura Denker
LOF Communications
(613) 299-8844
(613) 747-5949

Carl Martin
Communications, NAC
(613) 947-7000, ext. 560
Cell : (613) 291-8880

About the Scene

Imagine 600 artists from B.C. representing all disciplines, performing in the national spotlight on the stages of Ottawa/Gatineau: that's BC Scene, presented by the National Arts Centre, spring 2009.

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