Growing Room Expands to Literary & Arts Festival with Inspiring Boundary-Breaking Lineup

Posted by 
Kayi Wong
Growing Room Festival 2020 Banner features a drawing of the face and shoulder frame of an Indigenous woman. She has long dark hair pulled over her shoulders, and floating above her head is a set of antlers

Vancouver, BC – North America’s only feminist literary festival, Growing Room, marks its fourth year by expanding to a literary and arts festival. The cross-genre celebration will feature more than 85 nationally-renowned authors, poets, filmmakers, comedians, dancers, musicians and artists from across the country, to celebrate inclusive storytelling in all its forms during readings, discussions, workshops and parties from March 11-15, 2020 at venues across Vancouver.

Headliners include: Eve Joseph, Gwen Benaway, Liz Howard, Adele Barclay, Amber Dawn, Shani Mootoo, Téa Mutonji, Kai Cheng Thom, Zalika Reid-Benta, Annahid Dashtgard, Amanda Leduc, Chelene Knight, Helen Knott, Jillian Christmas, Tin Lorica, Jade Baxter, Jody Okabe, Edzi'u, Rebecca Fisseha.

Celebrated for spotlighting BIPOC, queer and marginalized voices throughout the festival, Growing Room continues to connect communities across identities, genre and form. This year’s theme of worldbuilding speaks directly to this need. As Canada’s social landscape becomes more diverse, and a new generation shares stories that are both passionately political and open-hearted in the face of growing hate crimes1 and regionalism2, Growing Room responds with a timely line-up of cross-genre events that celebrate the many ways we can proudly be ourselves through art.

“When we talk about worldbuilding in the context of this festival, we're considering what we have to do in the present to build a future we want to see for ourselves. As a unique convergence of creative talent, Growing Room will not only explore the multitude of ways we share our perspectives through art, but also how the worlds we build in fiction translate into reality,” says Festival Director Jessica Johns.

Literature fans will be drawn to renowned poets Griffin Poetry Prize winners Eve Joseph (Quarrels) and Liz Howard (Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent), Governor General prize winner Gwen Benaway (Holy Wild); esteemed novelists Shani Mootoo (Cereus Blooms at Night, Polar Vortex), Téa Mutonji (Shut Up You’re Pretty), and Amber Dawn (Sodom Road Exit); and non-fiction luminaries including Writers Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers winner Kai Cheng Thom (I Hope We Choose Love), Annahid Dashtgard (Breaking the Ocean) and Vancouver Book Award winner Chelene Knight (Dear Current Occupant).

As part of the festival’s expansion, Growing Room will also welcome emerging comedians, including Tin Lorica, who has opened for Joel Kim Booster and performed at Just for Laughs North West and Millenial Line; Nlaka’pamux filmmaker Jade Baxter, whose most recent film, Occupation of Memory, screened at the Montreal International Documentary Festival, ImagiNATIVE and DOXA; musicians including CBC Radio Reclaimed featured sound artist Edzi’u and CBC Music Searchlight Competition winner Desirée Dawson, and more. The full line-up of dynamic authors and artists will be released on the Growing Room Festival website on January 28, along with event listings.

2020’s festival will also feature fresh imaginings of the events that made 2019 such a success. The festivities kick off on March 11 with a dance party and concert featuring music from R&B, funk, and soul artists Tonye Aganaba, Chelsea D.E Johnson and Desirée Dawson; a set by one of Vancouver's leading female DJs, DJ Denise; and hosted by Jillian Christmas and jaye simpson. Growing Room will continue to partner with Indigenous Brilliance for a celebration of Indigenous storytelling, hosted by jaye simpson, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros, Patricia Massy and Emily Dundas Oke. A festival favourite, Growing Room’s hands-on, creative workshops now cover topics ranging from crafting the perfect short story to an introduction to burlesque.

Johns adds, “Ultimately, we want to create a festival filled with joy and care, where we can share space, build community, and be a part of something beautiful in a world where it is increasingly hard to do so.”

Growing Room’s event program will be announced on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.
Registration for festival events will open on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.
For tickets and the full events lineup, visit

For interviews with Jessica Johns, Festival Director, or Nav Nagra, Room Marketing and Development Manager, or to confirm an interview with one of this year’s featured artists, contact:   

Rebecca Peng, Publicist
ZG Communications
+1 604 336 3822

Festival artwork is created by Arielle Twist.

1“Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2017”
2“Canadians Across All Regions Feel Country More Divided than Ever ”


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    Manahil Bandukwala, Dessa Bayrock, Megan Beadle, Brandi Bird, lue boileau, Rachel Burlock, Justina Chong, Mollie Cronin, Marilyn Dumont, Edzi'u, Ashleigh Giffen, katia hernandez velasco, erica hiroko, Jessica Johns, Shaelyn Johnston, Yume Kitasei, Mica Lemiski, Jessie Loyer, Annick MacAskill, Callista Markotich, Sonali Menezes, Kai Minosh Pyle, Natasha Ramoutar, Carmina Ravanera, Rohsni Riar, Jessica Rose, Rowan Siah, Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Kelly S. Thompson, Arielle Twist, Phoebe Wang, Yu-Sen Zhou