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Vancouver’s Art Downtown Summer Program in 2021

Art Downtown Vancouver

The Art Downtown Summer Program gives Vancouver artists the chance to showcase their works out in the public with live painting and demonstrations.


This article contains the following information about Art Downtown:

When and Where is Art Downtown? | What Can You Expect? | Does it Cost Anything? | Art Downtown Video | Tips and Advice | Other Information


Downtown Vancouver Art in the Summer

The Vancouver Art Downtown Summer Program began in 2020 during the time of COVID-19. The Vancouver Visual Art Foundation teamed up with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association to come up with a way to stimulate activity in the city’s downtown area while maintaining social distancing.

Art Downtown was the result, where local artists create and then display their creations outdoors. With positive public reception, the program runs again in the summer of 2021 from mid-June until the end of September.


To learn more about the events and where they take place, continue reading or visit the Vancouver Visual Art Foundation‘s website.


Vancouver Artist at Jack Poole Plaza
An artist in Jack Poole Plaza


When and Where is Art Downtown?

On Tuesdays the program is held at šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square which is the North Plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on West Georgia Street. On Wednesdays and Fridays it takes place at Jack Poole Plaza and along a bit of the seawall by the Vancouver Convention Centre.

(Note: Venue locations are subject to change. The events also don’t take place on days when it looks like it’s going to rain.)

Regardless of the location, each day runs from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. First day of the season in 2021 was June 16th and the last day is September 30th.

During the events, everything is outside, from the painting to live music to different demonstrations. If you visit, make sure to keep an appropriate physical distance from the artists and other attendees.

A couple of the dates last year were cancelled due to rain, so that is something to watch out for. If it’s raining, don’t expect the event to take place as the artists can’t work with damaged equipment.


Art in the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza
Art Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza


What Can You Expect?

The aim of the program is to give artists the opportunity to connect with each other as well as with art-lovers in the community. Creating art out in public gives people from all over Vancouver the chance to see how these artists work. Another objective is to encourage people to go downtown (and to support local businesses while they’re there).

Last year there were paintings, carvings and other styles of art on offer. If you stuck around you could watch some pieces come together from their beginnings to their ends (or at least a good chunk of that process).


Outside the Art Gallery

Artists set up in the North Plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesdays. You can find them by the corner of Howe and Georgia Street. Initially, there are only about a dozen or so artists at this location. As COVID restrictions ease, however, the hope is for the number to increase to about eighteen.

The art is displayed out in the open. In some cases there are artists to talk to. In other cases there are volunteers.


Art in the North Plaza
The Art Gallery’s North Plaza Venue


At Jack Poole Plaza

The location by the Vancouver Convention Centre is bigger and busier than the one at the Art Gallery. In 2021, right from the start, about eighteen or so artists participate on each Wednesday and Friday in the summer.

This location is nice for people wanting to walk along the Coal Harbour Seawall. It’s also convenient for folk visiting the Imagine Van Gogh art exhibition at the Convention Centre (which runs until the end of August in 2021).


Art by the Convention Centre
Artists in Jack Poole Plaza


Does it Cost Anything?

All the dates for the Art Downtown program are free for the public to attend! There is no need to buy a ticket or register anywhere before you go. Just show up whenever you want and enjoy the art. Take your credit card or cash though, in case you want to buy something!


Art Downtown Video

For an idea of what an Art Downtown event looks like, check out the video below. It shows scenes of the art outside the Vancouver Art Gallery at the corner of West Georgia and Howe Street on a Tuesday afternoon in 2021.

The video was filmed in the third week of June, so near the start of the 2021 season. COVID restrictions were still very much in place then, so only ten or so artists were participating. There was still a nice selection of art to admire, however, and a number of artists to chat with. As COVID-related restrictions ease, a larger number of artists will likely participate.

The Art Downtown event at Jack Poole Plaza on Wednesdays and Fridays looks similar, but larger. At that venue as many as eighteen or so artists were participating in June. By later in the summer you might see even more.



Tips and Advice

Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your art experience.

TIP #1: Admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation on Tuesday evenings between 5:00 and 8:00 pm. As this is the same day as the artists set up outside the art gallery in the plaza, consider checking out both “free” events and have an art-filled day.

TIP #2: The seawall between the Vancouver Convention Centre and Stanley Park is a great place to walk and ride a bike. Consider going for a stroll either before or after checking out the art on Wednesdays and Fridays.

TIP #3: Hawaii From Above is showing at FlyOver Canada which is on the other side of the Convention Centre from Jack Poole Plaza. It’s a really good show and worth checking out.

TIP #4: Downtown Vancouver has some great hotels. If you want to make a holiday out of your art experience, check out the deals with StayVancouverHotels.com. The website offers bonus perks when you make a reservation through them.

TIP #5: Imagine Van Gogh is an art exhibition featuring the works of the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh in an amazing, modern, and immersive way. It takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre (so right by where the group of local artists set up on Wednesdays and Fridays).


Imagine Van Gogh in Vancouver


Other Information

For more information about the event, visit the Vancouver Visual Art Foundation website.

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