September, 2015

  1. Island Circus Space

    September 25, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    Lisa Eckert--2

    If you’ve ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show, you know just how extravagant of an experience it is. The room is filled with acrobatic stunts and costumes on a level you’ve never seen before, flawless transitions, orchestra music to set the mood and an audience with excited, bright eyes reflecting their fascination. Just when you’re starting to get comfortable, “BOOM!” a confetti cannon goes off and people are flying all over the room.

    It’s a great experience, but you have to wait until the tour comes to your area.


    Well, the circus community is growing and arriving right here in Victoria… and you can even participate in it if you want to venture out of the audience and onto the stage.

    Island Circus Space (ICS) is a team of dedicated circus artists who are striving to build a contemporary circus infrastructure for Victoria that enables the community to make art, be physically active, collaborate and develop professional talent and shows.

    inner harbor fire circle


    ICS will soon be offering workshops (November 14, location TBD), putting on more shows as well as finding ways to bring contemporary circus acts to Victoria. In fact, their first big show is April 2-3, 2016 at the Metro Theatre and Jake West, founder of ICS doesn’t think we’re ready for it.

    “I am so lucky to have Manjinder Benning, the director of Limbic Media, on board who is currently developing a motion tracking system for movement. We are going to blow Victoria’s collective mind. Seriously, Victoria is not prepared for the show that we are producing at the Metro!”

    In the future, they want to have their own space to develop local talent into professional level artists and athletes. They could attract international level talent and create many jobs for Victoria.

    “Who doesn’t secretly want to run away and join the circus? Well, we are trying to build something here where Victorians don’t have to run anywhere and can train high level circus right here,” commented West. “There is a phenomenal circus community throughout the world and we want Victoria to be able to tap into this talent.”

    Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 1.50.48 PM


    West, who is also a local performer, entrepreneur and educator at PSII, formed the group of 10 performers because when they finally returned home to Victoria from their travelling shows, there was never any work.

    “I am super passionate about circus. I cannot get any more happy than juggling underneath a tree in summer. The response [to Island Circus Space] has been incredible. It is so easy to work with extremely passionate people. These artists are a cultural and educational asset for Victoria.”


    ICS just launched one month ago and their next goal is to get 1000 fans. They are working in the lean startup model of building a minimum viable product, and with 1000 dedicated fans, they can basically do anything and will provide Victoria with tremendous leverage when negotiating a space.  

    You can help by visiting their website, clicking “Stay in the Loop” and signing up for their newsletter.

  2. “Crusaders of the Lost Idols” brings local music on their journey

    September 18, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield


    You will see the team of Codename Entertainment (and their families), at this weekend’s Rifflandia Festival up front and centre for Towers and Trees. They’re huge fans; so much so that they hired them to write and compose the soundtrack for their game, Crusaders of the Lost Idols.

    Crusaders of the Lost Idols puts the player in charge of a band of adventurers set in the fantasy world. The player must destroy waves of increasingly powerful monsters, recruiting new Crusaders along the way. It’s the #1 Idle game and most played game overall on, the largest English games portal in the world. Not only that, it has over 3 million unique plays which means the melody from Towers and Trees has been played over 3 million times!!

    Towers and Trees

    Towers and Trees


    “Video games are art, just like music, film, dance and other art forms,” explained Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment. “When I originally saw Towers & Trees play, I knew that I wanted to work with them to bring their unique sound to one of our games. Towers & Trees brought Good Wood Atoms (from Vancouver) into the project and it was a great fit.”

    Adrian Chalifour, lead singer of Towers and Trees, met with Codename to discuss their vision for the game and scored the track you hear right below, called “March of the Crusaders”. It’s actually a very catchy beat and great to listen to when you need to get some motivation.

    “The emphasis in the project was really to convey the epic scale of the challenge for the Crusaders and their heroic march across the world. Adrian shared an initial scratch track with us of his idea. Good Wood Atoms then worked with us to craft a version of the music which could loop in the game.”


    With the wealth of talent available in Victoria, it makes perfect sense to use the resources we have right at our front door. Right now we have Victoria’s largest music festival happening, an addition of Breakout West, Thinklandia just wrapped up and VIATEC’s Experience Tectoria event is showing off Victoria’s tech talent to local and visiting investors. This city is electric right now!

    Codename has deep roots in this community by: sharing knowledge and best practices with the other video game studios in Victoria; putting on joint video game art shows at Fort Tectoria; working with local post secondary institutions; working with local high schools to provide work experience opportunities to students, and working with local charities to raise donations.

    Eric Jordan at Experience Tectoria's Demo Camp on Sept 17, 2015

    Eric Jordan at Experience Tectoria’s Demo Camp on Sept 17, 2015

    “We’re a proudly Victorian and Canadian team who are lucky enough to attract that same talent to bring our games to life. Making games featuring local artists gives us a chance to showcase that talent to a global audience.”


    Codename is already working on more projects with Towers and Trees and Good Wood Atoms and looks forward to sharing them with their fellow gamers.

    The game is currently available on, and Facebook. If you search for Crusaders of the Lost Idols you can start playing for free immediately. They will be launching on Steam this month and on iOS and Android early next year.

  3. Thinklandia

    September 10, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 1.16.20 PM

    It was the year 2012… Approximately 70 ancient Olympic artifacts are stolen from the Archaeological Museum of Greece; “The Artist” wins five Academy Awards and becomes the first silent film to win since 1927; The largest protest in Quebec’s history occurs in Montreal with over 200,000 people marching against government tuition hikes, and for free access to postsecondary education.

    What wasn’t recorded in history, however, was when Dan Gunn (CEO of VIATEC) attended SXSW and Burning Man for the very first time. The experiences altered his perspective permanently and caused a domino effect of crazy ideas throughout all of Greater Victoria. He got so inspired that he pitched a vision to Nick Blasko of Rifflandia… the aftermath would soon be called “Thinklandia” and Dan’s hair would never be cut again.


    Thinklandia is a 7-day creative festival before Rifflandia that brings together the many aspects of Victoria’s arts, innovation and creative communities into a larger conversation. It’s a big, bright, free event that invites people to think, interact with each other and their environment, and compel creative progress and innovation in Victoria. (Scroll to the bottom to see the full schedule).

    “Dan Gunn and Nick Blasko started the festival to give local ideas, creators, and companies a platform to support and promote what Victoria was doing creatively, not only to a larger audience but to each other,” explained Joey MacDonald, Creative Programming Director for Thinklandia. “I like the idea of this festival that crosses creative borders, that can deal with ideas dynamically and involve many different aspects of our creative communities. We’re in our third year, and are taking some huge leaps in how we make this platform more useful and engaging – from compelling subjects tackled by completely different perspectives, to pairing up international speakers with local ones in discussion.”


    Yates St parkade rooftop venue being constructed

    Yates St parkade rooftop venue being constructed

    One of the huge leaps this year is setting the entire 7-day interactive event on the rooftop of the Yates Street parkade (with a few events at Thinklandia HQ), equipped with a stage, bar, patio, seating and a stunning view of the Victoria harbour. The event is completely free for the public to attend thanks to the sponsors: Telus, Rifflandia, the City of Victoria, Atomique Productions, VIATEC, InterArts, Fort Properties, and Stream of Consciousness (who will be live streaming every talk).

    There will also be an elevated VIP section on Day 6 and Day 7 for VIP pass holders of Experience Tectoria, a gathering of local entrepreneurs with international investors, thought-shapers and advisors. What better way for an out of town investor to get the full effect and see what this city is really about?


    Day 7: September 17th

    Day 7: September 17th

    Although Victoria’s #1 industry is technology, many tourists still see Victoria as the little, quiet city of tea and flowers. Well, the innovation and creativity is louder than ever and it’s only a matter of time before Thinklandia and Rifflandia become globally known.

    “There is historically an assumption that things won’t work, we won’t find an audience, or that Victoria is too small,” suggested MacDonald. “When Rifflandia was proposed as an idea, I think the wisdom then was that it was too big, too bold for the city. Every year is growth, and every year they get to make a compelling case to Victoria about what it is and what it is capable of. Getting to work with them in proposing that Victoria is capable of building and sustaining a creative festival like this is genuinely exciting, and necessary.”

    Thinklandia kicks off tonight with the “Public” topic including Mayor Lisa Helps giving out a few awards. Saturday is particularly interesting as they will be talking about physics, neuroscience, rap music, and finishing off by launching a mullet into space. Yup, you read that correctly. Also participating in Thinklandia is Shaun Verrault of Wide Mouth Mason, Biff Naked and Stephen Reid (yes, the bankrobber).

    If you’re interested in volunteering please contact

    For the full schedule please click here.


    SEPT 11 “PUBLIC” – Day 1

    • Jill Doucette • Synergy Enterprises
    • Rande Cook • Visual Artist
    • Lisa Helps • Mayor of Victoria
    • and host Iain Russell of Is This Menswear?


    • Derek Muller • Veritasium, Australia
    • Dr. Heather Berlin • Neuroscientist, NYC
    • Baba Brinkman • Rapper, NYC

    SEPT 13 “ILLEGAL” – Day 3

    • Stephen Reid • Author, bankrobber
    • Sarah Smith AKA Ginger Kittens • PEERS, Burlesque dancer
    • Hector Espinosa • Street artist, Mexico

    SEPT 14 “ILLEGAL” – Day 4

    • Roy Henry Vickers • Visual artist, storyteller
    • Susan Musgrave • Author, poet
    • hosted by Missie Peters

    SEPT 15 “PERSPECTIVE” – Day 5

    • Bif Naked • Musician, activist
    • Rae Spoon • Musician, activist
    • Jason Verners • Illusionist
    • hosted by the incredible Sarah Kramer

    SEPT 16 “CREATIVITY” – Day 6

    • Shaun Verreault • Wide Mouth Mason
    • Jordan Bower – Digital Storyteller
    • TEDxVictoriaSalon: Creative Education with Tiffany Poirier and Jeff Hopkin


    • Peter Nowak • Technology Journalist, Syndicated Blogger & Columnist
    • Lauren Friese • Founder,

  4. Burning Man: A culture of possibility

    September 3, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield

    Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 2.59.47 PM


    Goggles and face mask… check. Seven costumes; one for each day… check. Furniture, food, water and an open mind… check.

    Chances are you know someone who’s in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada right now enjoying Burning Man; maybe it’s even your boss…

    EST. 1986

    Burning Man is a week-long annual event that began in San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986 and migrated to Nevada. What began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice with Larry Harvey, Jerry James, a few friends and a 9-foot wooden man, is now a massive event celebrating alternative living, drawing 65,000 people (the size of downtown San Francisco), and featuring a much taller, wooden man at 40 feet.

    The event is described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. An entire city is built and adorned with unique structures, a cinema, temple and it’s own airport. It’s so big there are names for every horizontal street, and the vertical streets are numbered to match a clock to avoid people getting lost.

    And it’s all packed up (or burned) at the end, leaving no trace behind.


    The layout of Burning Man has evolved from a full circle, to a key hole and now to a semi circle in order to view “The Man” being burned in the center against the desert landscape on the Saturday evening. You can no longer drive your vehicle around as it was starting to cause some concerns, but people get around by bike, scooter or by bus (Yes, there’s an entire bus service).

    Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 10.46.24 AM

    Although you need to bring everything with you to survive life in the desert for a week, you won’t need to whip out your wallet (except for the highly priced tickets before you go). The reason? There is absolutely no cash exchanged at this event. Instead, festival goers have to barter for items and it gets more creative after each day.


    This year’s event has a theme of “Carnival of Mirrors”, causing many campsites to be reflective with the desert sun. There’s also a large wooden tunnel (which will be torched at the end), a temple called “Totems of Confessions” where you write down your sins and place on the walls, mobile and interactive installations, playgrounds for adults, live music, flaming skee-ball and SO much more.


    On the down side, being in the middle of the desert also brings sand storms. Remember the wind storm we just had in Vancouver? Well it travelled to Nevada last Wednesday too. Festival goers experienced white out conditions and it caused tents to be torn down and a few eyes and lungs pierced. It didn’t take long for people to dust themselves off and continue rebuilding, however. And don’t worry, all the debris that got blown away was caught by the 4-foot high barrier known as the “trash fence”. This kind of thing happens often.


    Most prepare to be “off the grid” with no reception and plan months ahead for it, but things have changed a little in the year 2015.

    You’ll notice pictures showing up on social media while the event is happening this year. This is due to portable WiFi on the packing list, with entire companies working right from the event. This is allowing more and more startup companies to attend as they won’t have to worry about their company folding after a week in the desert. There’s even a live feed for all of us to watch in amazement right here.

    However, many “burners” will argue the outside world should be left behind to fully experience Burning Man…



    If you haven’t been to Burning Man and know someone who’s dancing in the desert right now, get the inside scoop from them to really paint the picture (just give them a few days to recuperate first). You may want to start planning a trip next year to become a burner yourself, or you may want to warn everyone you know to stay away. It could go either way.

    Click here to view the trailer of Spark: A Burning Man Story.