“Art is essential during a revolution,” says Coral Santana, one of BC Culture Days’ 2020 ambassadors. The 4th year UBC student is the director of Dive Into UBC, an organization that focuses on arts and culture on the university campus. She’s involved in a variety of clubs and groups that aim to defend minority groups—she’s a self-proclaimed artivist, but only recently started defining herself as an emerging artist. “In the past, I was just a creative person, and now I have to associate myself with the term 'artist,'” she laughs, “and with the fact that what I produce and what I create is art.”

Santana is spearheading Dive Into UBC’s Artivism: Sex and the Unheard festival, which is part of BC Culture Day’s online lineup and runs from September 25 to November 29. This year, the fest focuses on how art can be used in social movements. “There’s social revolution happening around the world, there’s a global pandemic that’s pausing the world and making us reevaluate our priorities—and art has always been used by minority communities throughout the ages as a way to express their fears their hopes, and their dreams,” says Santana. “It’s a way to keep community even though we are so divided.”

xCoral Santana

The Artivism festival will highlight minority voices and how they use art to express their experiences with sex, sexuality, gender, and ownership of the body. The online events start today and feature spoken word, comedy, burlesque, and what might be the weirdest event in Culture Days history: an aphrodisiac cooking show.

The show is a bit of a passion project (joke intended) of Santana’s. “My boss and I are people who really enjoy food, and we were thinking about how we can involve food at a distance and make it a community experience,” she says. It works like this: they’ll release a written recipe (giving the participants time to gather ingredients), a week later they’ll release a video recipe in the morning, and that night they’ll host a zoom dinner where everyone can connect. And, one supposes, discuss whether or not they’re feeling extra frisky? Of course, there’s an academic side to it, too: workshop topics include sex work and disability throughout the ages, race and kink, and decolonial self-love. “It’s going to be a way to explore these themes that are considered somewhat taboo,” says Santana.

The cooking show is only one of many Artivism events, and Artivism is only one of BC Culture ays’ events, so check out the website for more info on all of the free, interactive activities. “I believe the importance of people attending these events is to keep engaged and to keep reminding us that we have a community,” says Santana. “It might have shifted how it looks, but it’s still there for us to access, to engage with, and to participate in.”