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Super Cool Tuesdays: community-building through art in the DTES

By Adriana Lademann, Super Cool Tuesdays organizer

Super Cool Tuesdays has been connecting artists and members of the DTES as a drop-in speaker series for over five years. With over 50 artists involved to date and a weekly attendance ranging from 10-25 community members (most of them regulars), folks meet up to discuss, learn about, and make art. In the past year since I have taken over Super Cool, the climate of the DTES has changed a lot, with the fentanyl epidemic being at the forefront.

Originally, the program was the result of a partnership between SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the Drug Users Resource Centre (DURC). DURC lost its funding and was forced to close its doors in late 2016. This was a devastating blow to the DTES, as DURC was serving up to 1,500 people per day. It is through the efforts and support of Dean Wilson, a long time member of DURC, that Super Cool continues. He has been a the glue of this program and has said to me time and time again how important it is to have arts in the DTES.

Folks have lost family, friends and loved ones due to overdoses, myself included. The inaction of our government is infuriating, and the atmosphere of loss and grief is heavy. I truly believe in the healing capacity of art, and while it will not solve the crisis in the DTES, it can give people an outlet for expression, hope, a moment of joy. It can call attention to what’s going on in the streets, in their building, and in their home. It can build bridges between communities that might never have connected.

Andrea Creamer, the former and first organizer of Super Cool, laid down a beautiful foundation for the program. When she passed me the torch I was honoured and terrified; although she has tiny feet, Andrea leaves behind very big shoes to fill. I hosted my first session of Super Cool myself. I am a visual artist, with a focus in performance and video. I am also studying expressive arts therapy. For my workshop, I presented on the evolution of movement. By the end of the hour, I had the whole group dancing. I knew it was a success when Dean arrived laughing, saying he was amazed that I got them up and moving.

It continues to be my honour to be involved in the project and to witness the dedication of everyone involved. I thank the support of Am Johal and the rest of the Office of Community Engagement, Fiorella Pinillos, Samaah Jaffer and Melissa Roach; Dean Wilson and Andrea Creamer for their guidance; the artist speakers for their excitement to participate; and of course the community members who are regulars and those who peek in to see what’s going on and end up coming back.

The next series of Super Cool Tuesdays runs this fall, from Sept. 26 – Oct. 31.
Click here for more details on past Super Cool speakers and workshops.

 

Gallery Images: A very special edition of Super Cool Tuesdays making ink block stamps with WePress!