The Collective Body; courtesy of the Living Things Festival

Over the course of the last year and heading into 2021, many of us have been left wondering how we can continue to socialize and connect with others when our usual modes of communication and connection have been so drastically altered. Indeed, this is precisely the dilemma to which the Living Things Festival hopes to propose an answer.

In recent years, the arts festival, which is organized and was founded by Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies professor Neil Cadger, has taken place in the Mary Irwin Theatre at the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA). However, under the current circumstances, this year’s festival will be presented as a free outdoor visual and auditory projection at the RCA from January 10–30, from 5:00 pm–9:00 pm nightly.

“We’re scaling back, taking some things outside, and putting together experiences that will bring together minds and emotions, if not physical bodies. A virus may stop us from gathering en masse, but it cannot stop culture!”

In its essence, the Living Things Festival is a small but extraordinary lineup of art, performances, and experiences that inspire, entertain, and provoke thought and conversation. This year’s edition, The Collective Body, is an audio and video project that captures a moment in history while virtually bringing together artists, musicians, and dancers from across North America. Participants in the project contributed to the overall project by recording themselves dancing or moving. These videos were then sent to musicians who created sounds inspired by the movement. Subsequently, these sounds were again forwarded on to other performers who created further videos of their inspired movements. The resultant creation is a pastiche constructed by the merging of these diverse works—"a haunting, shimmering collage of diverse bodies projected onto the windows of the Rotary Centre for the Arts, as a cascade of sound washes over visitors outside.”


“In prioritizing visual and sonic expression over linguistic communication, which breaks the world into distinct, individual entities, we offer ways of being with others that simultaneously acknowledge both differences and fundamental dependencies,” Cadger remarks of this year’s festival.

Despite the precarious circumstances we are living in, the Living Things Festival reminds us that, while we undoubtedly face many new constraints, there are also unique opportunities for digital connection, as the project instigates virtual collaboration from artists across North America in order to bring the arts to cities including Kelowna.

The Living Things Festival is financially supported by the City of Kelowna, the BC Arts Council, UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, Public Humanities Hub Impact Award, Heritage Canada, and local businesses and individuals.

Find out more about the Living Things Festival on their website.