Despite a successful reinvention last year with live shows and events, the Chinatown Night Market has been cancelled this year. Normally, it would have launched mid-May.
The Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association director Henry Tom told the Straight by phone today that his organization is taking a break from the two-decade-old event for 2014, mostly due to the daunting costs of having to set it up and strike it down every day.
Last year program director Ken Tsui and managing director Tannis Ling (of Chinatown's Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie) helped curate a market that found outdoor Ping Pong matches, live music and dancing, an outdoor cinema, hip-hop karaoke, a mah-jong social, a dumpling festival, and more hip happenings taking place amid the colourful rows of food and goods stalls.
"Everybody came to the table last year; we had the help of some young people who put on a great event and there were a lot of sponsors. We got a great turnout and they got really great programming that brought out the crowds and different crowds too. But that was not enough to get us over the hump," Tom said.
Tom added the event has lost vendors to the popular Richmond night market. The logistics and costs of setting up there are less, Tom says, because it takes place in a fenced-off area where booths can be left installed.
"We are going to re-evaluate and hopefully it can be saved," Tom said of the Chinatown Night Market, adding the need for street closures has been the challenge but also part of the appeal of the event. "The main mandate for the Night Market is to bring people down to Chinatown. We have looked at sites on our periphery, but in order to have the same buzz and atmosphere it had to be on one of the main two streets in Chinatown."