Since 1995, the City of Vancouver’s Artist Studio Award Program has supported local artists by providing studio spaces and one of this year’s recipients is the first Black artist to receive the award.
Naomi Grace is a multisensory artist and entrepreneur who’s work is “centered around reclaiming sacred medicine in its many forms, which she expresses through painting, mixed media, music, text, culinary arts and sculpture,” reads Grace’s biography on the city’s award recipients page.
“I’m really grateful to have access to this space,” Grace tells Vancouver Is Awesome via phone.
She plans on using the space for an large scale art installation, community arts integrated workshops, pop-ups and events, and intimate concerts and talks. The space will also serve as an order pickup location for her brand Melanin Rising.
To celebrate, Grace is hosting a zero-proof open studio event on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Grace wanted to create a sober social event for several reasons, partially inspired by her own transition to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
“People don’t drink for a number of different reasons. Sometimes it’s because people are pregnant. Sometimes they have friends who just don’t like the feeling of alcohol. Some people are allergic to alcohol. For some people, it’s for religious or cultural reasons. Sometimes people are in recovery,” she tells VIA.
Aside from the non-alcoholic lemonade cocktail bar, she will also be setting up a Melanin Rising pop-up sale.
3. Alan Walker and Kshmr: August 26 at Coca-Cola Arena
Enigmatic Walker is known for wearing a mask and hoodie while on stage, and the English-Norwegian’s most famous track is Faded (2015), which has more than 3.3 billion YouTube views and 1.5 billion Spotify streams.
Expect to also hear Sweet Dreams, a popular festival hit, the music video for which was shot in Dubai.
Walker will be joined by Kshmr, the American DJ and producer who was ranked No 11 in DJ Mag’s annual top 100 DJ poll in 2021.
4. Sharmoofers: August 27 at Dubai World Trade Centre
This Cairo-based project of Ahmed Bahaa and Moe El Arkan, who have been performing together with nearly a dozen instrumentalists across the Mena region for a decade, is coming to Dubai World Trade Centre.
Fusing jazz, hip-hop, reggae, funk and comedy, music is used to create memorable melodies and narratives connecting with Arabic-speaking audiences and more.
Ticketing details will be announced soon.
5. Pinoy Piyesta: September 2 at Coca-Cola Arena
Fans of Pinoy-pop should savour this epic event featuring six separate performances by some of the genre’s leading names.
Known as the Prince of Pop, Erik Santos made a splash after winning the TV television talent show Search for the Star in a Million season onein 2003.
Since then, he has released more than a dozen albums as well as currently starring in television dramas including Maalaala Mo Kaya.
Also performing on the night are KZ Tandingan, Yeng Constantino, K Brosas, Morissette and Ethel Boba.
7. ‘Romeo & Juliet’: September 9 to 11 at Dubai Opera
Shakespeare and dance enthusiasts across the UAE will be pleased to hear the ballet Romeo & Juliet will be performed in Dubai by the State Ballet of Georgia.
During the performance, which was created by the late Russian choreographer Sergei Prokofiev, fans can expect sumptuous sets and the kind of techniques the Georgian company is renowned for in classical dance circles.
Showtime is 8pm, with an additional 2pm matinee show on September 10 and 11; tickets from D325; www.dubaiopera.com
8. Sonu Nigam: September 10 at Coca-Cola Arena
It’ll be an exciting show featuring the sights, sounds and choreography for which Bollywood is known. Expect Nigam to play the hits including Saathiya, Deewana Tera and Tumse Milke Dil Ka.
11. Terra Solis by Tomorrowland: launching September
One of the world’s biggest dance festivals is opening a new desert destination in Dubai.
Belgian electronic dance festival Tomorrowland is launching Terra Solis, a festival-inspired escape opening in September. It will bring poolside beats, day-to-night parties and special events to the emirate.
Open to adults only, the new getaway will be held on a site spanning 37 hectares at Dubai Heritage Vision on Lehbab road, less than half an hour’s drive from Burj Khalifa.
DJs to perform at the opening weekend will be announced soon.
12. ‘Footloose: The Musical’: October 5 to 8 at Dubai Opera
Based on the 1984 hit film starring Kevin Bacon, the musical adaptation of Footloose comes to Dubai after a successful run in the West End, London.
The story of a former urban dweller’s attempt to change the cultural narrow-mindedness of his new small town, the musical features hits from the 1980s including the title track, Hero and Let’s Hear It for the Boy.
Showtime is 8pm, with an additional 2pm matinee show on October; tickets from D275; www.dubaiopera.com
13. Justin Bieber: October 8 and 9 at Coca-Cola Arena
The Canadian pop star will return for two shows as part of his blockbuster 20-month Justice World Tour.
Named after his sixth album, which was released in the past year, the concert will feature hits performed in what promoter Thomas Ovesen describes as Bieber’s “most elaborate” stage production yet.
The group are renowned for their enthusiastic interpretation of Irish traditional and folk dances, and will incorporate Middle Eastern influences into the Dubai show.
Showtime is 8pm, with an additional 2pm matinee show on October 29 and 30; tickets from Dh325; www.dubaiopera.com
18. Hardwell: November 4 at Coca-Cola Arena
The Dutch DJ will present tracks from his new album, Rebels Never Die, to UAE fans. Backed by large productions and innovative light design, Hardwell aims to create a concert experience as immersive as the album.
20. Dresden Opera Ballet: November 15 at Dubai Opera
The lavish gala event returns to Dubai Opera with another distinguished line-up of opera stars.
Spain’s Placido Domingo leads an impressive bill, which includes Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka and The European Peace Chamber Orchestra Dresden. Dress to impress as the event will feature a red carpet, VIP reception, main performances and a gala dinner.
Lewis Capaldi performs at Etihad Park on the third night of the Yasalam After-Race Concert series on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All photos: Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Scottish crooner Lewis Capaldi is making his UAE return with a concert at the Coca-Cola Arena on November 24. After performances in Sharjah in January 2020 and at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix‘s Yasalam After-Race Concert in December 2021, this marks his first Dubai gig.
Known for his big ballads, including Someone You Loved and Before You Go, expect the big-personality singer to break-up the touching songs with his trademark comedy anecdotes.
Tickets are on sale now; admission is open to all ages, except for the golden circle, which is reserved for ages 21 and over.
24. Dubai Shopping Festival: December 15 to January 29, across various venues
Expect plenty of concerts, shopping deals and family entertainment as part of the six-week festival.
With more details to be announced later in the year, you need only to look back at last year’s event to know what’s in store.
Emirati-Yemeni singer Balqees Fathi and Egyptian artist Mohamed Hamaki performed at Burj Park, nightly drone shows were held at Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai, while pop-up markets took place across locations including Al Seef, Rigga, Al Khawaneej and Global Village.
OPEN HOUSE: Saturday, July 9th, 2:00pm to 4:00pm. You are invited to visit the gallery to celebrate the 3rd week of OPEN STUDIO. Stop in to meet the artists and see what they have been up to during their time in the space.
THE ARTISTS: ALISON NORLEN is an artist widely respected, nationally and internationally, for her large-scale drawings and sculptural installations. Her work is set apart by its intricate detail and grand scale. She is fascinated by cultural artifice, often focusing her work around subjects like theme parks, circuses, carnival celebrations, roadside attractions and other sites of cultural spectacle. Her work is held in many private and public collections. She lives and works in Saskatoon, where she is a Professor of painting and drawing at the University of Saskatchewan.
BREANNE BANDUR is an artist rooted in drawing. Her approach to the practice and medium is experiential, embodied, and deeply tied to process. For Bandur, drawing takes place both within and outside of herself. Intuition is central to this engagement. She considers the act of mark making as it relates to inner thought and feeling, considering how marks on a surface give physical form to immaterial thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Drawing materialize the intangible, becoming a path to understanding, and ultimately, a way to make sense of the world.
EMILY ZDUNICH is an interdisciplinary artist, and community art facilitator, of European settler descent with Ukrainian and Croatian ancestry. She has developed a figurative practice in painting, drawing and installation sculpture. She investigates the concept of the body in relationship to others and self. Her focus is on the human condition and explorating connections between the physical body and the emotional body.
FIJI ROBINSON is a Saskatoon artist with a background in communications and documentary, who now works primarily in photography and installation. She has a strong interest in social and environmental justice. Her current project, which she will be working on during Open Studio, imagines the River Souls, a community of mythical creatures that project the river and river valley.
KELSEY FORD is a Canadian artist and printmaker working out of Saskatoon. She received her B.F.A. with a minor in French from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She works primarily in serigraphy, but also enjoys working with textiles to create mixed media pieces and larger installations. Her work often incorporates repurposed or used materials with more modern mediums through collage techniques. By combining traditional and moern structures, she hopes to draw new parallels and comparisons between past and present.
LAUREN WARRINGTON is a Saskatoon-based artist who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts High Honours from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. Her practice revolves around the interplay of physical and virtual environments, incorporating printmaking, sculpture, digital animation, and virtual reality. Through her work, Lauren explores conventions associated with race, femininity, and how identity develops in an era dependent on technology.
LEANNE MUNCHINSKY is a multi-disciplinary artist from Saskatoon. She holds a B.F.A. and BEd from the University of Saskatchewan. With a deep-rooted curiosity, her art practice centres around learning, experimenting, and evolving. She enjoys facilitating workshops, creating art, volunteering in her community, and collaborating with other artists. Her subject matter is diverse, including portraiture, still-life, and landscape. The main theme in her current work centers around subject matter that inspires feeling during a time of general global distress.
THE GALLERY / ART PLACEMENT INC. 238 – 3rd Avenue South Saskatoon firstname.lastname@example.org 306-664-3385 www.artplacement.com/gallery
PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE – The 1st week of OPEN STUDIO will wrap up with a public open house event on Saturday, June 25th, 2:00pm to 4:00pm. You are invited to drop into the gallery to meet the artists and see what they have been up to.
ABOUT OPEN STUDIO – OPEN STUDIO turn the traditional exhibition gallery into a workspace for multiple artists to create, experiment, collaborate, learn from, and inspire each other. Watch the creative process unfold as the gallery plays host to nearly 30 artists between June 20th and July 16th! Each week, a different group of artists will share the space, using it as their temporary studio to make work. The first week of OPEN STUDIO welcome Gabby DeSilva, Hailey Weber, Lauren Bell, Lila Kallstrom, Maha Abbas, Yuka Yamaguchi, and Zachary Knuttila. OPEN STUDIO is one part of The Community Project, a series of events, workshops, and activities to build connections among the artists of Saskatoon. The Community Project has been co-developed by Biofeedback Collective and art placement. We gratefully acknowledge funding from SK Arts through their Artists in Communities Grant Program.
THE GALLERY / ART PLACEMENT INC. 238 – 3rd Avenue South Saskatoon
Cocktail Connoisseur, which is run by Kam Tabarraee and Jean Laven, is a “ghost” bar known for its cool, somewhat-underground, events that combine elaborate beverages with creative pursuits like fashion, art, and cabaret.
The pair have previously partnered with fashion designer and NFT artist KiarashTarikhi, RnB singer Sofia Evangelina, and the Goh Ballet to create immersive experiences in the same building as Le Papillon and the two projects have been looking for an opportunity to collaborate.
This latest experience felt like the most natural progression for the two art forms. Tattoos and Cocktails will be hosted by tattoo artist and Le Papillon founder Daniel Snoeks, who says the studio is more like a lifestyle brand as it introduces the culture of tattooing to the world.
He honours the history of tattoos and his own personal story with the name. Le Papillon originated with the 1973 French film Papillon which inspired Snoeks‘ father to get butterfly tattoos, the only tattoos he had while Snoeks was growing up. He studied the history of butterfly tattoos and traced them back to the world of French prisons (in the film, Papillon was a French criminal, based on a true story). This lead Snoeks‘ to his interest in tattooing.
The event will feature four tattoo artists with different styles tattooing large-scale pieces live with clients they have worked with for a long a time, paired with four cocktails inspired by the story and design of the work.
Louis Tibo (@dirtyartmaker) is an old school mixed with new school artist whose an expert at packing in saturated colour and smooth black and grey, ShaeChari (@seekshaed) is an illustrative tattooer who likes to design psychedelic and magical nature inspired pieces, Marine (@moss.meadows) is a fine line black and grey artist who does a lot of florals and winged beasts, and Gale (@wraith________) specializes in highly-stylized dark and twisty vampiric illustrations.
To begin, guests will be greeted with a welcome drink and a brief documentary about Le Papillon by local filmmaker Warwick Hughes. Then each artist will have a station where they will be completing their live tattoo session and people can observe and mingle as DJEvo jams.
There are two sittings for this event at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and there will be an after party in the penthouse of the Millennium Building at 11 p.m. following the second sitting.
The focus going forward will be on tournament play, including new 3v3 tourney
After two years of online play and remote production, the NBA2K League has a new in-person home for the 2022 season. In-person NBA 2K League competitions, which began last night with bracket play of THE TIPOFF Powered by AT&T, will take place at the new NBA 2K League Studio at The Pavilion at Pan Am in Indianapolis. And, while the league is proud of all the technology innovations and remote-production workflows it developed over the past two years, there’s nothing quite like returning to in-person LAN competitions.
“For the crew, the league, and the players, on a scale of one to 10, I would put the excitement level at about 4 million,” says Matt Arden, head of content and media, NBA 2K League. “At our live events, the energy is palpable, with all the noise and the chaos and the fun. The energy level that the players infuse into that live product is amazing, and seeing them explode and blossom on the live stage has been one of the great joys of this job. We can’t wait to have that energy back in the room and yell and scream and watch these players do what they do best.”
Although bracket play for the league’s in-season tournaments — The Tipoff, The Turn, The Ticket — and its playoffs and finals will take place in Indianapolis, NBA 2K will continue to embrace the cloud-based remote-production ecosystem it has cultivated over the past two years for qualifying and group play.
“I’m excited to finally and fully return to in-person production,” says TJ Canty, director, broadcast operations and events, NBA 2K League. “We’re still very much moving forward with our cloud-based remote-control room. There is nothing like the feel and energy of a live event. This year will be even more interesting, considering we’re doubling our overall camera counts and videoboards.”
Inside the Indy Studio: Dual Stages, Double the Cameras, Plenty of Excitement
During the pandemic, NBA 2K’s online-play broadcasts featured a fast-paced whip-around among multiple games. In an effort to recapture that high-speed excitement for LAN play, NBA 2K League experimented with the concept of dual competition stages at the 2021 Playoffs at the Mavs Gaming Hub in Dallas.
“One thing we took away from Dallas was that excitement and chaos can live in the same place,” says Arden. “Frankly, it’s very hard to cover two stages. From a live perspective, the audience is seeing what’s happening, and they can easily follow it, but to bring that through on the broadcast is a lot more challenging. Our talent has to be really on their toes, as do our camera ops, TD, and director because we are making these massive pivots midstream during the broadcast.”
NBA 2K League’s new studio features two competition stages.
The dual stages proved to be a big hit with fans and players alike and will now be a permanent feature at the new NBA 2K League Studio in Indianapolis. Two circular competition stages will host simultaneous in-person games, allowing the production team to switch between games in real time to capture the most exciting moments.
“Our main goal was to make the two stages feel like equal main stages rather than one being the side stage,” says Arden. “We tried to create a feeling of oneness between the two. Then we surrounded both with more LED [displays] than we’ve ever had before to really make it pop.”
Arden and his team worked closely with Brian Mirakian senior principal/brand activation director, Populous, and his crew to create a venue that would not only dazzle fans in attendance but also make the players themselves feel like genuine superstars. In addition to the two LED-heavy circular stages, the league has erected an LED-fueled tunnel that will be the central focus during dramatic player introductions before each competition. The casters will call the action perched atop this tunnel, creating a fresh new dynamic.
“I would describe the general vibe as part NBA arena, part Rucker Park,” says Arden. “We took a lot of inspiration from WWE as well as what the NBA did in the bubble in terms of using LED in smaller spaces to create more excitement. So we wanted big screens, lots of noise, and to make sure the players are featured prominently. We wanted to create an epic entrance for them so that, when they take their seats, they feel like superstars.”
In addition to the main competition studio, the facility features a players lounge upstairs, along with player practice rooms that double as remote game-play rooms for the 10 teams that are living in-market in Indianapolis this season.
NBA 2K League has re-teamed with its longtime production partner Defacto Entertainment and facilities provider Dome Productions for the 2022 season. Arden and his team produce each broadcast from a Dome Productions mobile unit outside the facility.
An increase in LED displays marks NBA 2K League’s new studio.
Double the stages means double the cameras, so Canty and his team have rolled out twice as many Marshall POV playercams and more handhelds (some wired, some RF) than ever to cover the action.
“We have only a few seconds to provide the viewer with full context as to why we’re making the shift [to a different stage] and what’s happening in the other game before that moment disappears,” says Arden. “It means a lot of mental gymnastics for our core talent and production staff. Being ready to pivot at any given moment for nine hours is a real challenge.”
New Season, New Structure: Going Tournament-Centric, Launching 3v3 Tourneys
The studio in Indianapolis isn’t the only big change this year. The league made significant changes to its schedule and is debuting several features for its fifth season.
First off, the NBA 2K League has pivoted from a traditional “regular season” to a format focused on tournament play (including qualifying events for tournaments), with the season spanning April through August.
“The [tournament-centric structure] has changed our narrative structure and the way we think about the telling stories during the season,” says Arden. “The new structure also means that we have a lot more this year in terms of volume. Last year, we did 52 live broadcasts; this year, we’ll do 71 between the beginning of April and the end of August — plus four days of rehearsal. We’ll be a functioning live-production unit for 75 days over the next six months.”
The ambiance is designed to spur excitement and make the players feel like superstars.
In addition to its standard 5v5 competition, the league has partnered with Coinbase to host three new 3v3 tournaments culminating with the 3v3 championship. NBA 2K League teams — comprising five players this season — will be represented by three of their players during these 3v3 tournaments. Amateur teams from around the world will also have the opportunity to participate alongside NBA 2K League teams for a share of the 3v3 tournament prize pool.
“That change from 5v5 to 3v3 has a major impact on studio ops because we have to reduce the number of chairs, which reduces the scale of our footprint depending on which tournament session we’re in,” says Arden. “We had to take that into account when building out the studio. But we were able to figure it out, and 3v3 is going to be a big addition for us. We think those amateur and pro-am [competitions] are going to serve as a conduit into our league and open windows for lots of new players and personalities.”
Even With New Studio, Remote-Production Workflow Is Here To Stay
The NBA 2K League was among the first to rebound after the pandemic arrived in March 2020, getting online competition up and running in a matter of weeks. Over the ensuing two years, the league, along with Defacto and Dome, developed a cloud-based remote workflow that will continue to be an integral part of its operations moving forward.
“Of course, we’re all excited about returning to [the studio],” says Arden, “but remote production is definitely here to stay. Remote production allows us to create one-off events, tournaments, and play-in opportunities on a much more global scale. I think this hybrid remote/live [model] will be our future. This is a great year to put rubber to road and see what we can do as this hybrid model comes to life.”
For all remote-play productions, Arden and narrative/production leadership will be based in the New York City area (either at home or at the NBA’s headquarters reopened New York office). Meanwhile, the primary production team is based in a control room at Defacto’s facility in Vancouver, and a limited crew is at Dome’s Toronto broadcast facility, which distributes the final live stream.
“We like the ratio we have this season of being 70% remote and 30% live [in-person],” says Arden. “We are in a really exciting place and where we hoped to be a couple of years ago [prior to the pandemic]. At the same time, I think the understanding of remote production has taken us to the next level and is going to make us more global this season, next season, and beyond that.”