The Great Debate on the future of the Vancouver Festival, initiated by this magazine last year, is beginning to bear fruit. The people with new ideas speaking in the language of the Sixties are moving into action with increasing momentum. Among them is the unique organization known as Intermedia which works in the realm of intellectual resources-ideas. It is an amorphous group of avant guard thinkers, artists, film-makers, dancers, poets and ... just people with ideas. For months it has, on the surface, been apparently dormant, content to produce the isolated one-night happening with little fanfare. But behind the blank doors of its headquarters in Beatty Street, the minds of Intermedia were anything but dormant. The ideas were generating. Now, it is launching a major production
This first stage of a new concept in festival thinking will take place at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the week beginning May 20-five nights of events aimed at the aware people of today-See Inside
JAMES BARBER ON AN EMERGING NEW FESTIVAL CONCEPT
The quality of the cultural life of Vancouver has become a little richer this week. This is the main basic effect of an announcement by the potentially mast influential artistic organization in the city, known as Intermedia. For this group, strongly backed by the Canada Council and rapidly exciting the interest of other supporters of the arts, has disclosed that it is now ready to make its first public offering with the promise of other imaginative events to follow. I t could be that the city is on the verge of being culturally aroused as never before.
AN ATTEMPT AT GETTING PEOPLE INVOLOVED
"....... and next year, maybe even this year, there is the whole beautiful environment of False Creek-and the bridges and the water, and even every community center in itself an event, a sort of Intermedia Midsummer Nights Dream, with the artists out among the people, and the people in fact being part of the scene, instead of just watching it, or having it happen to them"
The talk is of Vancouver Soixante-neuf, a talk of illuminated bridges and gardens and dancing and music and food and small boats moving in choreographed patterns, and multi-media artforms not only being presented but also moving at the same time.
There are interesting words used, words like midwife and catalyst and articulation of awareness. All these thoughts and ideas sprang out of a discussion of the first major public offerings of Intermedia, a program to be called Intermedia Nights, and to be presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the week beginning May 20.
What they really mean is an acute awareness of something described in a little publication of the Downtown Business Association, a study of the last Grey Cup riots.
This study came to the conclusion that the explosion occurred not because of a calculated or in bread wickedness in the people, but because of a deep and unsatisfied need for involvement in a festive occasion.
And those festivities as they were emphasized, instead of satisfying this need, were watching festivities - frustrating festivities, events centered on the activities of a few people, the players and the parade participants.
Everybody else was watching, and wanting to DO.
Now personally I think it would make a lot of sense if Empire Stadium were turned into on vast muddy field, with all the 30,000 fans dressed in their brightest and gayest, all having jettisoned their inbred prejudices from childhood against getting dirty, romping in glorious abandonment between 75 sets of goalposts in pursuit ofa never-ending supply of brightly colored beach balls, while the teams performed their grunting and groaning from a platform suspended from a helicopter, a sort of choral effect accompanied by selected recordings of military music sung by the B.C. Legislature Social Credit Backbenchers Choir conducted by Bennett himself.
But football insists upon its pretense of seriousness. So, to, does the legislature,and for that matter the PNE Midway which under the fiction of offering people excitement and stimulation, offers a rigidly stylized, extremely expensive exercise in tedium, sore feet and boredom.
The Vancouver Festival is desperately trying to remake its image this year, wit much less mass entertainment at cheaper prices, in an effort to over come its lack of of communication with the community. Frankly, I seriously doubt its ability to reach today by just supplying more of yesterday.
But in the Intermedia Nights I can see a beginning, and it will be interesting to see not only what happens this year, but what arises from it for the future.
Something new, something
All over the world artists are working towards the creation of environments, participating environments. In Canada alone there are two groups in Toronto, intersystems and Electromagnetic Spectrum, and another in Montreal, Fusion des Arts - and although they all have the same concern, none of hem is working in the same field.
Fusion des Arts, after an initial exposure at Expo, is now completing a study for the Quebec Arts Council on the interrelation of the arts with society, games, industry and communications.
Intrasystems (which showed last year at The Vancouver Art Gallery) is working currently on the design of a night club - and, to please the materialists, selling its products, while yet another group is developing a park for the blind composed of electronic sculptures the blind can play.
And here appears to be muck of what Intermedia has been looking for, a new dimension for the sightless - if we can all be considered to some extent sightless in our new world of technology and leisure.
There will come a time when society , in an ethos which has made human labor obsolete, will need to create its own music and poetry - its art forms which will be different from historical art forms, but which will nevertheless offer perhaps more satisfaction.
The Intermedia Nights program will consist of a planned environment by Helen Goodwin, a movement and light sculpture, in which she, assisted by Tad Young, John Masciuch,and Dennis Vance, will develop the potential of what she calls "A Space." This happened on a smaller scale earlier this year at the Douglas Gallery, with considerable success.
On the second evening (May 22). The Al Neil Trio will Create another environment based on music, and the following evening the Gallery will house Bill Bissett's Mandan Massacre and a Tri-Media production.
On May 24, Stan Fox and Gene Lawrence will present The Enterprise, a production based on the by-now well known Wednesday night TV film series which became almost Stan Fox's private festival, and at the same time excited considerable interest all over the continent, even though it was only exhibited locally.
The final evening is still in the planning stage, but will include some form of meditative experience, possibly with Leonard Cohen. Alan Watts or Michael Murphy of Esalen.
When the Los Angeles Six came to the Gallery there was considerably interest and excitement. People were for, and people were against, but there was little apathy - for here was something new, something happening, something taking off.
Intermedia Nights could also be a new departure, but lets not sell it short because it originated in Vancouver.
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