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PechaKucha unites Vancouver’s creative community, 400 seconds at a time.
Put a few creative types on stage to talk about what inspires them, and you might find it challenging to rein them back in. But 54 events and 615 presentations later, the folks behind PechaKucha have the concept of a rapid-paced, tight little dose of creative inspiration down to an art. “We always joked that architects tend to ramble,” says PechaKucha organizer Becki Chan, who studied architecture and now runs her own namesake jewellery line. But the evening’s format—each presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds each, speaking to what’s on screen before it automatically transitions to the next—makes for an energizing night for everyone. “It’s a way for the presenters to share their experiences in a fun, fast-paced and visually focused presentation style,” says Chan. “I think it’s why it’s exciting for both the speaker and the audience.”
Classic creatives like interior designers and architects are the mainstays of a typical PechaKucha program, but speakers have run the gamut: it might be a chef discussing the creativity of cutting a carrot, a book designer explaining how the final cover makes it through to approval (and all the frustrations you need to roll with along with the way) or an iconic Vancouverite—like John Fluevog (he of the shoe empire), who joined one event to discuss his passion for cars.
They’re buzzy nights—a mid-stream “beer break” is there for the audience to discuss what they’ve learned so far, and the Vancouver Playhouse—PechaKucha’s regular host venue—keeps the bar open for an hour at the end of the night to make room for more lively chatter. Chan intentionally didn’t pivot to online during the pandemic, feeling it would have lost the magic that one of these nights entails. “When presenters finish, there’s cheering, clapping and hugs, and I think that’s what really makes the event,” she says. —A.Q.
For information, showtimes and tickets, visit pechakuchavancouver.com
What’s your favourite conversation starter?
Food. New restaurants around town.
Your favourite place to hang with friends?
Now that I have a two-year-old girl, VanDusen Botanical Garden. Each time we go, there are new flowers blooming. It is always changing.
Your social superpower?
Ask me anything about:
After 15 years of organizing PechaKucha, I am like a living White Pages of Vancouver’s creative community. I am also a foodie. People always ask me for Asian restaurants and happy-hour recommendations.
New friend turn-offs?
Too intense, too needy, too loud.
Describe your community in three words.
Supportive, kind and content.
What album is your all-time favourite?
CrazySexyCool by TLC.
What are you reading?
Anything on colour theory in child development.
Favourite spot in the city for design inspiration?
The Vancouver Art Gallery. I’ve been a member since 2006 and I live very close by. I go there whenever I feel like I need a break.
Favourite PechaKucha session?
Volume 54—our 15-year anniversary. It was so nice to see the presenters again and hear what they’ve been up to all these years. It reminded me that what I am doing is meaningful.