Vancouver artists are receiving some much-needed assistance from city hall with council approving a plan to convert more than 26,000 sq. ft. of industrial warehouse space into affordable artist studios on Tuesday.
The space is in addition to a 10,800 sq. ft. property already in development at 1265 Howe St. as well as a park board plan to offer rent-free fieldhouses to artists in exchange for administering community art programs.
The initiatives come after city staff identified the need for affordable, small-scale and legal artist spaces after consulting with the arts and cultural community earlier this year, resulting in the creation of the Arts and Culture Policy Council, a 15-member committee from the arts community that will advise the city as it implements its cultural plan.
“The big issue here is cost. The cost of living and operating in any kind of space in Vancouver is very high compared to the rest of the country. It’s excellent that the city is taking a strong role in helping to identify and develop affordable options for artists,” said Rob Gloor, executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, but noted there are still a lack of mid-size rehearsal spaces available to performing artists.
The vacant warehouses are located on Industrial Street in False Creek as well as near Renfrew and East Broadway on Kaslo Street. The combined 26,300 sq. ft. of space is expected to be managed by non-profit groups to sublease to individual artists and collectives, Gloor said.
“I can’t say enough good for what the City of Vancouver is doing for artists,” said Jeffrey Boone, executive director of the Eastside Culture Crawl, an annual event that showcases more than 400 local artists. “There’s a lot of very intelligent planning going on that has a very longterm vision.”
The park board is accepting applications from artists until July 6 for the use of its six fieldhouses throughout the city. Artists are expected to provide some form of community engagement in exchange for the space, said newly appointed park board chair Sarah Blyth.
“We’re going to leave it as open to as many different kinds of artists as possible – collectives, individual artists, music, dance,” Blyth said. “We’ll let the artist be creative with how they would incorporate the community within those proposals.”