ArtsLIVE celebrates SFU’s unique arts community and cultural identity

Charlotte Newman shares the inspiration behind this engaging new project

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A three-person band plays on a small stage set up in a covered outdoor courtyard
ArtsLIVE provides weekly entertainment on campus. Photo: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Gurleen Aujla, Peak Associate

SFU ArtsLIVE has hit the ground running this semester, with weekly live performances and pop-ups across all three campuses. Co-presented by the Student Experience Initiative and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, ArtsLIVE is cultivating spaces to amplify and uplift the unique arts and culture scene at SFU. 

The goal of ArtsLIVE is to enrich university life by offering a new platform for students to engage in shared experiences. In an interview with The Peak, Charlotte Newman, coordinator and assistant curator for SFU ArtsLIVE, discussed the importance of fostering a vibrant, welcoming campus.

According to Newman, ArtsLIVE executive producers Laya Behbahani and Michael Boucher began planning the program 18 months ago, knowing when SFU returned to in-person activities, the “community would need spaces of joy, celebration, and gathering as we gather to rebuild community connection.”

ArtsLIVE is meant to be a collective effort, with the hope that the project continues to grow annually. Principled on equity, diversity, and inclusion, they have consulted with 14 SFU departments to facilitate a spirit of community building and promote mental health and wellness. 

Performances include live music, dance, digital arts, poetry, and more. From concept to execution, there has been an emphasis on holding “space for Indigenous and diverse voices.” 

The event series is co-hosted by Vancouver-based artists Jeanette Kotowich and Nyla Carpentier. Kotowich is of Nêhiyaw Métis and mixed settler ancestry and Carpentier is Tahltan, Kaska, French, and Scottish. Her background inspired her solo play Dissection of a . . . Mixed Heritage Woman. Their backgrounds fuels their passion to find space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous practices to blend together.

SFU ArtsLIVE “creates platforms to celebrate and listen to contemporary artistic voices,” Newman said, as it “supports performing artists at SFU and across the professional community.” For many artists, ArtsLIVE will be their first live performzxance in over two years. 

Newman encourages any interested student, staff, and faculty artists to reach out to ArtsLIVE for future performance opportunities; all art forms and practices are welcome. They are also looking for volunteers, curators, hosts, and other collaborators. For more information, email artslive@sfu.ca. 

“ArtsLIVE is growing, but it can only truly grow with your help and support,” Newman said.

Performances on the Burnaby campus take place Tuesdays from 12:30–1:30 p.m. in Convocation Mall until March 29. On the Surrey campus, performances are held on Wednesdays, also from 12:30–1:30 p.m., until March 17. All performances will be live-streamed. For a list of upcoming performers, visit the SFU ArtsLIVE website. 

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