Last night at SFU Woodward's the incomparable Veda Hille hosted Festival LAUNCH!, a showcase of emerging local talent across the spectrum of performance disciplines.
Highlights for me included: Chelsea Laing (aka CHERSEA Music), a singer-songwriter and one-woman band who certainly knows how to work all the inputs on her loop station; the actress Stephanie Izsak, who was so good in Balm in Gilead and Attempts on Her Life at Studio 58 this past season, and who treated us to an excerpt from her one-woman musical-in-progress, which is about the secretary in charge of processing all the new souls through purgatory when God and the Devil suddenly strike up a detente; singer, musician and spoken word artist Gavin Kade Somers, whose "GirlBoy," about gender and sexual identity, was quietly modest in its delivery but packed a powerful emotional punch; and Lisa Simpson, a "sewing agent" whose live performance on her Singer had me enraptured at the reception in the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre that followed the presentations in Studio D.
The evening also served as the launch for 149 Arts Society, a new not-for-profit arts presenter with charitable status working out of SFU Woodward's, and overseen by Cultural Unit Director Michael Boucher. Able to fundraise independent of SFU's Advancement Office, 149 is dedicated to presenting cutting-edge multi-disciplinary work from local, national, and international artists, to commissioning new work, and to supporting under-serviced professional arts communities.
Needless to say, this can only benefit PuSh, at whose most recent Festival opening back in January Boucher first announced this initiative.