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VIFF conflict prompts Vancouver to reschedule Mayor's Arts Awards

Vancouver's Cultural Services department is changing its plan to hold the Mayor's Arts Awards on Sept. 29 after realizing the awards would conflict with the opening night of one of the biggest cultural events of the year, the Vancouver International Film Festival.

"It was a complete oversight on my part," said Margeret Specht, director of grants, awards and support programs at the City of Vancouver.

For the past two years, the awards – honouring local artists across many disciplines – have been held in November. But the event was moved up this year because of the civic election, taking place Nov. 19, and also to coincide with Culture Days, which run Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

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The date was chosen based on the availability of Mayor Gregor Robertson, according to Ms. Specht, without realizing it would create a conflict for the local arts community. (It was also selected without realizing it coincides with the Jewish New Year, another consideration, she said, in moving the event.)

The Mayor's Arts Awards will now be held Oct. 6.

When asked about it initially, Ms. Specht pointed out that the awards are held in the late afternoon and early evening, and would be over in time for people to catch the film festival opening, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

But even with the events happening across the street from each other (the awards at the Caprice Nightclub and the VIFF opening at the Vogue Theatre), it became clear that holding them on the same night would create scheduling problems.

"There's lots of people involved in the arts awards that we really hope can be included at our opening gala," said VIFF director Alan Franey. "Including the mayor."

Mr. Franey said he would be "delighted" if the awards were moved to another date. "It would make more sense in terms of not having to solve the problem of cloning people."

There is also an annual VIFF opening night prescreening party thrown by local film company Brightlight Pictures and the Bridge Studios, which would have overlapped with the awards.

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"It's very, very difficult to find a date in town that isn't conflicting with some kind of opening or something," said Ms. Specht. "It really speaks to what a busy cultural city we are. But this conflict was just something we couldn't live with, so we scrambled to find another time and we seized it."

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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