Vote for the Arts Survey

Question 1 – arts organizations

With a steady increase in the cost of real estate in the City of Vancouver, one of the biggest challenges facing arts organizations is securing facilities, physical space and property for the presentation and production of the arts.
How will your party address the need for affordable and stable venues and spaces for non-profit arts and culture organizations?

We have collected the following responses from COPE, the Green Party, the NPA and Vision Vancouver:


Our most important policy in the current economic and development climate in Vancouver is our proposal for a Cultural Land Reserve. Outside of expensive, purpose-built structures such as civic theatres, major public galleries and museums, and the like, there is a vast range of activity that requires inexpensive, flexible space. This sort of space, which is ideal for studios, practice halls, offices and storage for small arts organizations, small galleries, small music and performance venues, and multi-use spaces, is typically found in older industrial and commercial buildings. These buildings are under threat due to accelerating speculation, and the fact that they are often ideal sites for redevelopment. There is also a threat posed to artists’ spaces by the city’s own regulatory demands. So, we are proposing to designate specific places and specific types of building stock as protected. There are several ways to accomplish this protection, the most likely being zoning changes, and in some cases covenants placed on properties.

We are concerned about the pressure on cultural space, including studios, practice halls, theatres, galleries, music venues and multi-use spaces. However, as we know that there are many studios and informal venues operating without the city’s knowledge, or choosing to avoid the pitfalls of permits and licenses, and there is no comprehensive picture of how many cultural spaces there are, and where they are concentrated. This lack of information makes it difficult to identify the problems. So, we will perform a confidential census of cultural spaces and assemble the data. It will have to have some level of confidentiality to prevent permit & license problems from being triggered.

Green Party

First and foremost, we need to reintroduce the kind of urban planning pioneered with CityPlan: a collaborative process of identifying community aspirations for planning and land use. Spot rezoning is no way to plan, and results in the kind of increased density and land value lift that prices culture organizations out of our city. We would support citizens including “culture precincts” in their local area plans, and the City supporting funding and spaces for non-profit arts and culture organizations through development levies and allocation of city-owned space, and through “incubator” funds. Green Councillor Adriane Carr also moved a motion to protect the Hollywood Theatre as a community cultural venue in Kitsilano.

Non-Partisan Association

The NPA is committed to supporting arts and culture in Vancouver, and part of that support relates to finding affordable venues for our city’s many non-profit organizations. As part of our platform to update City Plan – a neighbourhood-led planning process – we will include the planning and integration of Arts and Culture facilities as an essential part of the city. We will ensure that artists and arts organizations provide input on where and how to create more creative spaces in partnership with local neighbourhoods.

The NPA has also proposed the creation of a new Creative Entrepreneurial Office, which will work to help small scale productions that require city permits to navigate the bureaucratic red tape, helping them to navigate city regulations quickly and in a cost-effective way.

Vision Vancouver

Vision Vancouver will continue to support arts and culture organizations and artist spaces. Our commitments in our platform include:
• Identifying a city-owned building that can be used for artists, and offering up a request for proposals at an affordable, long-term lease rate.
• Creating an Independent Arts Fund, which will provide grants of $500, $1000, and $2000 for local artists looking to host new events, start festivals, and secure space for new performances.
• Ensuring that artistic sectors that require industrial space such as foundries, fabrication, and music rehearsal are prioritized in the next round of artist spaces in industrial areas.
• Completing an expedited review and streamlining of bylaws that govern performance venue spaces by June 1, 2015, to reduce unnecessary burdens for cultural entrepreneurs.

This builds on the work we’ve already undertaken:
• Changed the 500 square meter limit on artist work-only studios, enabling artist groups to partner on studio space.
• Provided an under-utilized city warehouse at low cost for The Arts Factory, a new arts studio hub in False Creek Flats. It provides 21,000 square feet artist space which will provide up to 40 new studio spaces.
• By prioritizing artist studio space in new developments at buildings at Cambie and Marine Drive, and on Howe Street, there is now over 26,000 square feet of new artist studio space in Vancouver.
• Launched the Live Performance Venue Pilot Project, which allows temporary arts events in warehouses and retail spaces. Indoor arts event are now legal in commercial and industrial areas, and do not require development permits.
• Changed the City’s zoning to allow artist studios in all 12 of the city’s industrial districts. The area of industrial lands in Vancouver that allow art uses increased from 70 acres to nearly 1300 acres.
• The Vancouver Park Board now offers nine previously-vacant field houses rent-free to Vancouver artists in exchange for community arts projects and programming.
• Saved the historic 100-year old York Theatre, which now operates as a community performance space by the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
• Provided 8,477 square feet of city-owned space at the CBC Vancouver building to PuSh International Performing Arts Festival Society, Touchstone Theatre, DOXA, and Music on Main society.
• Directed $4.5 million of the community amenity contribution to be reinvested into Mount Pleasant arts and culture organizations – the biggest one-time city investment in Mt Pleasant arts and culture.
• Approved 44,500 square feet of space at the Wall Centre at 160 West 1st avenue, which includes a 250-seat theatre and rehearsal hall.
• The City now tracks the amount of performance venue space added or lost per year, following a recommendation from the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force.
• Directed City staff to undertake an open-sourced creative spaces asset map, for the public to identify community arts and culture assets they value and want protected and enhanced, which will inform City staff’s long-term planning.