When Hilary’s email sailed into our inbox last week, I had to blink hard. Her ears must’ve been burning. Over the past couple of months, Bree and I have been eager to get back into focusing Peaks & Harbours on what we (and you!) love best – art & design excursions that thrill the grown-ups and excite the littles; promoting local businesswomen, artist, and creators; telling tales of our outdoor adventures; talking real about the world around us and our place in it; sharing tasty recipes that nourish you; and sharing our favourite hilarious moments – all from our amazing team of Peaks & Harbours contributors.
But I digress.
Hilary – Dr. Hilary Letwin to be exact – of Culture Babes, has been hosting events for five years that bring parents and kids to art exhibitions and performance events around the city, satisfying that deep craving to keep your intellect fed, with kids in tow. Now, without spoiling everything that Hilary has kindly written below, these are no regular gallery visits – they are more like, relaxed VIP tours for you and your littles. Got your attention? Read on readers, read on.
Hilary – Culture Babes
Becoming a parent brings so much joy, and for most, requires quite a lot of sacrifice. While expecting our first child, my husband and I decided that we did not want to forgo our regular visits to art galleries and other cultural events. Our answer was to establish Culture Babes, dedicated to organizing monthly cultural events that are extremely child friendly, but which are ultimately geared towards stimulating parents. Vancouver is rich in its cultural offerings, however, it is neither easy nor always encouraged to tote your newborn to museums and concert halls, and we resolved to rectify this.
In September of this year, Culture Babes is celebrating our fifth anniversary. Reflecting on this, it is very satisfying to recognize that we’ve hosted over 50 events in and around the greater Vancouver area, and welcomed at least 500 parents and tots to these events. Some of our attendees have been coming consistently since the beginning, while others have returned with their second and third kids. Most of our events feature a tour of an art exhibition, but we’ve also arranged some unforgettable experiences. In 2012 and 2013, we hosted classical music concerts, during which babies crawled at the feet of the musicians, and after which we had a Q and A about music lessons. In 2015, we had the great pleasure to partner with Ballet BC UP to produce a dance class in the Ballet BC studio with two of their stars, Racheal Prince and Gilbert Small.
When it comes to our gallery visits, Culture Babes always includes a tour, led by a guide, who is familiar with our group and our needs. We schedule our gallery visits for the morning, when places are opening, or even before they’ve opened to the public. With a guide and as a group, we have strength in numbers and don’t typically suffer critical glances when a little one is making some noise. We never stay past the hour mark and we always end with coffee and a chat. New to the Vancouver area five years ago, I’ve met some of my closest friends through Culture Babes.
As we have seen with our own daughter, also now nearly five, the additional and unforeseen benefits of Culture Babes includes a well-cultured child, who knows how to behave at a gallery. Numerous studies have shown that even the briefest of exposures to cultural events makes for a well-rounded child, and will encourage the same kids to seek out such activities as they grow into adults. Increasingly, children, and specifically, babies, in art galleries are seeing an uptick, at least internationally. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the National Gallery in London both host regular baby mornings, and more museums are following suit. Culture Babes has always been warmly welcomed by our cultural institutions, and I look forward to the day when our galleries host baby mornings of their own. Until then, Culture Babes welcomes new members and looks forward to a full calendar of upcoming events.
Our next event will be to The Vancouver Art Gallery on September 23rd at 9:45am to see Picasso: The Artist and His Muses. Tickets cost $30, $15 for VAG members and free for all tots. To attend or for more details, please visit our website (culturebabes.ca) or drop us an email at email@example.com.
Dr. Hilary Letwin gained her PhD in Art History from Johns Hopkins
University. She has curated a number of art exhibitions, including at
the Seymour Art Gallery and the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art.
She is currently working as the Curatorial Assistant at the Richmond
Feature Image Photo Credit: Hieu La Voce, 2015