Artsmarts: Janis La Couvee

From Fringe to fine art in the heat of the Victorian summer

Get your Arts Smarts with Janis LaCouvee

Get your Arts Smarts with Janis LaCouvee

Two of my favourite summer traditions bookend August – the Sooke Fine Arts Show (July 26 to Aug. 5) and the Victoria Fringe Festival (Aug. 22 – Sept. 1). Both celebrate 27 years in 2013.

Who could have imagined in 1987 that a small art show, created in the vast expanse of the Seaparc Leisure Complex, would grow to be Vancouver Island’s longest-running juried art show? People come from far afield to see more than 350 pieces of art and wander through the 16,000 square foot gallery while enjoying a variety of live music.

There is a day set aside with activities for children and youth (July 30), and a well-attended preview night (July 25) for art aficionados eager to add to their collections, as well as Taste of Sooke (Aug. 1). Learn more at

To say that I have a thing for the Victoria Fringe Festival would be a bit of an understatement. Unlike some, I came to the Fringe quite late, in 2006 for the 20th anniversary. In the intervening years however, I’ve been overtaken by Fringe-fever, volunteering and experiencing live theatre in an 11-day frenzy during one of Victoria’s signature festivals.

Shows begin Aug. 22, but don’t forget the Fringe Block Party in Centennial Square (Aug. 20) and the all-important preview nights (Aug. 21 in Centennial Square and Aug. 28 at the Victoria Event Centre). Kids and families are well served with Fringe Kids Fest in Market Square (Aug. 24) and FamilyFest (daytime shows at Langham Court Theatre).

Featuring 50 shows and 300 performances in 11 venues, and a program filled with comedy, theatre, dance, drama, musicals, performance art and site-specific work, there is truly something for everyone at the Victoria Fringe Festival. Go to for more information.

Paper Street Theatre presents, in advance of its 2013 Fringe show (An Improvised Tarantino), a new evening of improv, Harold Night, Aug. 12 at Intrepid Theatre Club. Led by master improviser Dave Morris, the ensemble cast will create full-length theatre pieces that “excite, delight and provoke.” Tickets at the door.

Past Fringe favourites and award-winners Theatre SKAM return with Smalltown: A Pickup Musical Aug. 13-25 in the field at Vic High (access through the Belfry Theatre lobby). This all-ages show features catchy tunes delivered from the back of a pickup truck. Go to for more on this one.

Another perennial local favourite, Launch Pad Productions (Dracula at the Castle, Tara Firm and the Lunar Chronicles) bring Watch for Bones, a four-person sketch comedy show, to the Intrepid Theatre Club Aug. 1-3. I caught the inaugural episode earlier this year and was very impressed with the whip-smart repartee. Find out more at

Award-winning local comedian Mike Delamont appears in his hit show God is A Scottish Drag Queen, one night only, Aug. 10 at the Metro Studio Theatre. It has played to packed houses from east to west and is sure to sell out here too. Get your tickets at

Tasha Diamant performs the Human Body Project in an off-Fringe venue during the Victoria Fringe. Diamant sometimes describes herself as a naked stand-up tragicomic. Naked and unscripted, she shares an intense experience of vulnerability. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see what Monday Magazine called “the most relevant and powerful work at the Fringe,” this is your opportunity. Find out more at

Janis La Couvée is a community builder, writer and arts advocate. She is incredibly grateful to be the audience. In 2013 Janis was recognized with an M Award as Biggest Supporter of Local Theatre.