This article was published on July 27th, 2021
The Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL) is a progressive, artist-run organization devoted to presentation, programming, and advocacy of art and leisure in unconventional spaces and ways throughout the greater Vancouver area. VAL presents events in both traditional venues and unique spaces. Viewers can always expect the unexpected, experiential, and experimental.
VAL embodies artistic, sexual, and political expression. VAL breaks down barriers and smashes through glass ceilings to create a powerful, welcoming, and inviting community in which all can participate. They are committed to maintaining a platform for new artists while featuring more established ones – giving them all the necessary space and a platform to showcase their ideas, talents, and passions.
Throughout the COVID-19 global health pandemic, to the dismay of the queer community, VAL had to postpone all programming, impacting many local artists and performers, and eliminating an important social outlet for the community. However, with the easing of the pandemic restrictions in British Columbia in early July, VAL will resume activities with new and returning-favorite programming coinciding with Vancouver Pride. It’s an exciting line-up of curated events.
Major Achievements Made by Vancouver Art and Leisure
Before the COVID-19 global health pandemic, Vancouver Art and Leisure pioneered many important steps that improved the social fabric of the queer community in Vancouver, and beyond.
The Vancouver Art and Leisure group (VAL) is responsible for discovering some of the most renowned drag artists in the region, including Berlin Saint Le Bon, who has gone on to become a key board member of the organization.
Over the years, VAL has worked hard to gain access to warehouses and other unique spaces to present their artists in Vancouver, establishing the first and largest alternative night club in the Mount Pleasant area.
In 2019, they took their signature event, Backdoor, to create the largest single gay nightlife event ever in western Canada at the Plaza of Nations during Vancouver Pride weekend.
In addition to their work within queer spaces, Vancouver Art and Leisure has lobbied all three levels of government on various issues and create safer spaces and environments for the LGBTQ+ community. This includes allowing gatherings to occur in industrial spaces throughout the greater Vancouver area. The organization has added cultural integrity to the city and showcasing the diversity present within the LGBTQ+ community.
Their current advocacy work includes a partnership to campaign to legalize poppers.
The Trailblazers of Vancouver Art and Leisure
There are several key people at Vancouver Art and Leisure who have helped make many significant strides within the community and the organization.
President, Paul Wong, is a well-known figure in the Canadian artists movement. His radical approach to showcasing art has helped to create the blueprint for Vancouver Art and Leisure. Paul provides support as an accomplished artistic and spiritual advisor.
Board member, Berlin Saint Le Bon has helped craft and articulate the key messages for programs and has played an instrumental role in fundraising. Berlin has been the center point for a new event program, Affirmations, a cabaret show to raise awareness and financial support to transgender individuals on their journey.
As one of the founding creators of Alternative Pride, Chase Porter is lauded for his role in ushering forth the careers of many queer artists in greater Vancouver. His activism work throughout the LGBTQ+ community has unlocked doors and raise awareness to issues that have benefitted many.
The Welcomed Return of Vancouver Art and Leisure
It’s an exciting time for Vancouver Art and Leisure, as the restart a new era of activism, events, artist-lead initiatives, and lobbying.
A signature VAL event, Alternative Pride, resumes in July 28 – August 2, 2021, to present to the public queer spaces, a platform for queer artists to showcase their talents, and to raise funds and awareness for important Vancouver queer causes. Learn more.
Keep up with more exciting news and announcements about Vancouver Art and Leisure, as HomoCulture keeps you informed and up to date on more updates on events and happenings from VAL.