Photo by Jeanie Ow
About the Society
The Powell Street Festival Society’s (PSFS) mission is to cultivate Japanese Canadian arts and culture to connect communities. Our main activity is producing the Powell Street Festival (PSF) in Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood, Paueru Gai. PSF is an annual celebration of Japanese Canadian arts and culture. In addition to PSF, we engage in co-presentations with arts organizations and produce an annual season of cultural and artistic programming.
The Powell Street Festival Society’s vision includes a society enriched and interconnected through Japanese Canadian arts and culture. We encourage the recognition of Japanese Canadians as a creative force within the broader community.
To achieve this vision, we provide a hub for Japanese Canadian emerging and established, professional and amateur, and traditional and contemporary artists. Our artistic and cultural programming reflects a continuum of new, emerging, mid-career and senior professional artists of Japanese heritage working in literary, visual, performing, new media, and inter- and community arts fields originating from across the Lower Mainland, Canada, the US, and Japan. As part of our reach to Japanese Canadians, we also develop ties and partnerships between Japanese Canadian groups and organizations.
To further interconnectedness, our annual programming includes collaborative and/or intercultural explorations between Japanese Canadian and Asian Canadian artists. We maximize our reach and influence through this expanded programming alongside partnership engagement within our geographic and cultural umbrella communities (including the Asian Canadian, arts and culture, and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside communities). In this, we aim to provide the Vancouver community-at-large with a fully accessible diverse, innovative, and challenging Japanese Canadian voice while encouraging a deeper sense of interconnectedness and exchange.
We foster engagement, collaboration and accessibility.
We cultivate and support artists and cultural producers.
Inclusivity and Diversity:
We program events and activities that welcome a wide range of participants, striving towards barrier free experiences.
We honour the location of Paueru Gai and Japanese Canadian history. Through this, we acknowledge a larger narrative of displacement and colonization.
We protect and maintain the financial and operational viability of the organization.
Signature Event: The Powell Street Festival
The Powell Street Festival is the largest event of its kind in Canada and the longest running community arts festival in the Lower Mainland. Inaugurated in 1977, the Powell Street Festival is free to the public. It is held in both outdoor locations and indoor venues around the Powell Street area within Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood, on the traditional unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil- Waututh First Nations. Influenced by typical Japanese summer festivals or matsuri, PSF has developed into a unique Vancouver event. Over the course of the 2-day event, we attract nearly 17,500 local, national and international attendees.
PSF features something for everyone, including dance, music, film and video, visual arts, martial arts demonstrations, amateur sumo tournament, children’s activities, participatory activities, walking tours of the historic neighbourhood, craft vendors, traditional displays, delicious Japanese food, and much more. We present new works and new Japanese Canadian artists each year, representing the wealth of Japanese Canadian artistic creativity and stimulating the local professional arts community with outside talent and expertise. The Festival provides a platform for Japanese Canadians to perform, display their work and gain recognition.
The Festival’s unique character, with its combination of professional and community arts and culture,
provides a climate ripe for community development and exchange. Though produced and presented by the Powell Street Festival Society, the Festival has a vast array of community partners who are integral to its success and feel. It is equally a showcase of talent and culture, as it is a community building opportunity, and a community bridge where the general public can access, learn and experience the diversity of Japanese Canadian arts and culture.
To view our 2019 Strategic Plan, visit here: Powell Street Festival 2019 Strategic Plan (PDF, 780KB)