Meet Charlie Wu: Family man, arts enthusiast, West Coast devotee and above all managing director of Vancouver’s TaiwanFest and founder of LunarFest. Twice a year, he, his core team and countless volunteers draw Vancouverites downtown to celebrate Asian culture and be inspired by our city’s diversity.
“We all come from somewhere”, says Charlie when being asked about his motivation behind both festivals. “And bringing people with different backgrounds and stories together in an artistic environment can help the city find its own cultural identity.” The secret ingredient helping him on his quest is public engagement. Every year, Charlie observes with amazement how visitors embrace the festivals, insert their own ideas and take them beyond what is imaginable.
It works. TaiwanFest attracts over 135,000 visitors yearly and LunarFest grew from a 5-hour installation in 2009 to a 37-day installation being named one of the Top 10 attractions during the Olympics by the Georgia Straight in 2010. It is no surprise that the word spread from there. Toronto’s version of the LunarFest kicked off under Charlie’s supervision in 2012; one of the rare instances where a festival idea spread East. Not only Canadians seem to be fascinated by the colourful lanterns. Calls from Mexico and Turkey inquiring about LunarFest prove that a downtown Vancouver festival has the potential to become a worldwide phenomenon.
But why downtown? “It is the center of everything”, he replies simply and continues to list all its advantages from infrastructure to support by numerous business communities. “The downtown atmosphere with its modern architecture and out-of-the-box collaborators gives cultural events a different vibe, it helps inspire and lets creativity fly.” Venues such as Pacific Centre bring art installations into their business environment in an unconventional way and make the festivals a unique experience for everybody.
Understandably, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) selected Charlie to be this year’s recipient of their Outstanding Individual Award. As an association aiming for downtown Vancouver to provide an enriched urban experience that cannot be matched, the DVBIA sees in Charlie a strong believer in downtown as the center for all cultural celebrations.
At Boughton Law, we are delighted to present the Outstanding Individual Award to Charlie at the awards reception on June 19th. Having been located in downtown Vancouver since our inception in 1949 and being proud of our West Coast heritage, we could not have wished for a more suitable recipient of this year’s award.