A unique festival that featured live performances in East Vancouver living rooms and backyards won’t be returning this year.
After starting the In the House Festival more than a decade ago, Myriam Steinberg said she reached the decision not to continue organizing the event because she’s burnt out.
“It’s really hard,” she told the Straight by phone. “But, you know, I do feel like I’ve left quite a cultural legacy. And it’s the right thing to do. But…it totally breaks my heart.”
Steinberg said she has been getting “hundreds and hundreds of e-mails” in response to her announcement that she's stepping back from the festival. She noted that over the years, the event featured more than 600 performance groups, and over 100 houses as performance venues.
“I think it inspired a lot of people,” she said. “It inspired artists to start working with each other—there are a lot of collaborations that came out of it.
"There were a lot of artists that either kick-started their career or restarted their career because they performed at the festival, and I get a lot of stories from people who say that they went to a show and either became a fan of the group, or they or their kids took up that instrument or that dance, or whatever it was that they saw that inspired them.”
When the festival first started up, Steinberg said it was a small, two-day event. By last year, it had grown to 20 or 21 shows over three days.
She said the event allowed audiences to explore art “in a totally different way”—just as it allowed artists to connect with their audience in a new way.
“The audience was able to…meet people from the neighbourhood, or from other parts of the city, in a much easier way than the theatre, because you’re kind of squished beside them in a living room. But [they] could also explore different genres that they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.”
Steinberg said the future of the festival is “a giant question mark” at this point. Currently she’s taking a sabbatical before determining her next career steps.
She noted the In the House achievement that she’s most proud of is the “sheer volume” of shows that have taken place throughout the festival’s history.
“The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of shows that I’ve done, the thousands of artists that I was able to hire and work with, and honestly the friends that I’ve made through it,” she said.
“Whether they’re audience members or performers—just that real sense of community and that longing that people have to be there...It was a really great space for everybody to share the cultural experience.”