Vanessa Richards is an artist with a foundation in music, performance, creative writing, and socially-engaged practices. As a writer, she earned an MPhil in Creative Writing from Cardiff University, UK, with poetry and critical works anthologized internationally.
She is the founder and song leader of the Woodward’s Community Singers, a non-auditioned, free, drop-in choir established in 2009, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. The choir runs 40 weeks of the year and is sponsored by the social housing provider PHS Community Services, in addition to Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and private donor Bob Rennie in memory of housing activist Jim Green.
Vanessa also works as an arts-based community engagement professional, developing partnerships and projects that cultivate participatory processes, collaboration and the civic imagination. She is interested in the role of the arts and artists (professional and amateur) in place-making and social sustainability. Public celebrations and carnival arts have been a large part of her work in at Vancouver and London.
The newest iteration of her social music practice is Together Singing, a consultancy service providing progressive organizations with a customized communal singing experience to amplify their ideas, goals, and missions in a process appropriate for team-building, staff retreats, and conferences.
Woodwards Community Singers: An Invitation to Sing Together (Video, 2014)
Choir Facebook page
Vanessa Richards rediscovers music with Woodward’s community choir (CBC News, 2015)