Saturday in the City 3: Festival sites and beer gardens
Four events, one afternoon. Here’s the second.
The Jazz Festival happens all over town, in ticketed theatres and free public spaces. (Thank you, Jazz Festival!) I just wish we had better public spaces to host it in.
It’s not that our outdoor plazas are hopeless. Indeed, three difference performances were happening simultaneously around Robson Square, each without intruding on the other, each with their own set of stairways for seating, all of them packed.
But two of the staircases were at oblique angles from the stage, breaking the intimate relationship between performer and audience.
The worst performance space, however, is on what should be our best: the square on the north side of the Art Gallery. The problem is obvious: that big ugly fountain slap dab in the middle.
It’s where the stage could go – or the audience. But the fountain prevents any large gathering (maybe that was the idea) from using the space in a logical way.
(The City is currently commissioning a rethink of the square now that the surface has to be repaired to prevent leakage into the storage vaults of the Gallery. So Job 1, presumably, will be to get rid of the fountain, assuming the Province, who still owns the site, will go along. It was a Centennial gift to the City, so the story goes, from W.A.C. Bennett. Might be touchy to junk it.)
But I’ve saved the worst for the last. It is appalling how we do beer gardens (sic) in this town. Clearly, the regulations call for caging those inside and preventing them from making a break for it.
Now there are two rows of railings, with a no-man’s land in between.
And of course the bark mulch, utilitarian chairs and tables, and minimal amenity add to the intended ambience. But at least the drinkers have a direct sight line to the stage, even if the implication is that they shouldn’t really enjoy it.