Nuit Blanche may literally mean white night, but in colloquial terms the term refers to an “all nighter” and the French Cultural Centre wants to showcase how this plays out in contemporary Quebecois culture.
Nuit Blanche is the brainchild of Jean Blaise, founder of thé Centre de recherche pour le développement culturel, a research centre for cultural development located in Nantes, France.
It was conceived as a six-day festival to celebrate the arts that would be held for six years, turning the streets into an open-air museum. Staged in France from 1989 to 1984, the events seeded the first of the one night all nighter, held in Paris, and now replicated around the world to celebrate the arts.
“In Montreal, everyone is out in the streets. It seems like half the city is out,” said Jasmine Lanthier-Brun, cultural coordinator for the French Cultural Centre on Richter Street at Bernard Avenue.
Known for throwing more traditional celebrations, like Maple Fest, Lanthier-Brun said she wanted the French Cultural Centre to start showcasing some more contemporary Quebecois culture as well when she came up with the idea to host a Nuit Blanche in Kelowna.
The event will start slowly, she says. For one night, from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. this Saturday, the centre will host an arts, film, music and general entertainment night in an effort to try and seed a wider Nuit Blanche celebration in Kelowna in years to come.
Celebrating during national Cultural Days, it will be a free event—a Culture Days mandate—although there will be a bar and snacks and drinks for purchase, limiting attendance to those 19 years of age and older.
There will be two DJ: DJ Froggy Stylz, a French Canadian focused on electronic house, and Colin Syck, remixing French and Anglo Canadian disco.
A puppet show from Fems, Farm Expression Marionette Shows, will play along one wall and an artist will do graffiti in in the back parking lot.
Several visual artists will be on hand to do collaborative work and Cassandre Campeau will give a reading. The evening will conclude with a showing of Over My Dead Body, a film by director Brigitte Poupart about dancer with cystic fibrosis.
Lanthier-Brun says the aim of the event isn’t to stay all night but to come out, socialize, take a look around and help get this new concept started in the Okanagan.
“I would love to see the city and others in the arts and cultural community get on board for this notional festival,” she said, noting she envisions it stretching from the French Cultural Centre to the Cultural District one day.
At the moment, it would be difficult to stage the style of open street party that brings a million people out in for Nuit Blanche in Toronto, she admits, given the liquor laws in B.C. As the province has just launched a review of liquor policies in this province, however, there is no telling how far cultural events like Nuit Blanche might make it with enough interest and advocacy.
Nuit Blanche runs Saturday, Sept. 28 from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at the French Cultural Centre, 702 Bernard Avenue. Admission is free and it is open to everyone 19 years old and up.