Ottawa’s Chinatown has a clear sense of place. You can tell from the details – and I’m not just talking about the arch! Walking down Somerset, from the street signs to the store fronts, you know exactly where you are. It’s a feeling that is familiar in many North American cities. And as with any neighbourhood, it’s the people that bring it to life.
What’s going on this Saturday?
Remixed is a festival celebrating local culture in the Somerset West area. On September 16 between 11am and 10pm they will be closing the street between Bay and Percy to provide a day’s worth of free activities.
Apt613 spoke with one of the festival organizers, Kristina Corre, to understand her perception of the community. “I think there’s a real grassroots presence in this neighbourhood,” says Corre. “There isn’t really a presence from big businesses. This festival really celebrates people who live and work in this neighbourhood, but engages with people in other areas of the city as well.”
For the better part of a decade, Chinatown Remixed has been an annual festival showcasing the hidden gems, focusing on both small businesses and local artists. The festival pairs local artists with Chinatown storefronts, where they perform or install and display their art in non-conventional gallery spaces. It’s a model that’s found success over the past eight years, and their opening day has been getting bigger – both the street closure and main stage are new features this year.
Also new is their branding – the festival is changing their name to simply ‘Remixed’. Corre explained that the change would enable them to include more businesses along Somerset, but would not change their raison d’être. “Remixed is a celebration of local artists, and there will be a lot of community building. It’s a great day for discovery on September 16, with lots going on from Bay Street to Booth Street.”
The festival’s expansion makes sense, as the boundaries defined in a policy planning document don’t necessary capture the essence of where a neighbourhood begins or ends. Right on the cusp on Chinatown is The Art House Café, which opened in January 2017. From the beginning, they have made efforts to be part of the fabric of the neighbourhood. Joe Beaton, co-owner of The Art House Café, spoke about their participation in Remixed: “The neighbourhood has welcomed us with open arms and frequent visits, and we’re honoured to show the talented artists that have found a home here”.
So what can those who attend expect? Corre explains, “We’ll have volunteers handing out maps, and people will have the chance to stop in at some of the 26 different venues to explore artists they may not have been exposed to.” There’s a good chance you’ll even get to meet the artists.
“There will be a kid’s zone on Somerset near Percy programmed by the Ottawa School of Art, there will be a beer garden for adults in the parking lot of The Art House Café. There will be skateboarding demonstrations by Birling, who recently moved into the area, there will be international music in the Shanghai parking lot – with all of China Doll’s antics! Plus, there will be live music in the early evening, with our headliners Loon Choir and other artists. There will be something for everyone.”
Remixed takes place from 11am to 10pm on Saturday, September 16. See Facebook for more details. One block of Somerset West will be closed between Bay and Percy and there will be programming in the Art House Café and Shanghai Restaurant parking lots, as well as a kids area programmed by the Ottawa School of Art.