Heartbreak over the Waldorf Hotel’s imminent closure morphed into hope as the arts community rallied to save the East Vancouver cultural hub over the weekend.
Hundreds attended a Sunday love-in at the hotel – recently sold to condo developer Solterra – featuring live music, food trucks and impassioned speeches about the hotel’s status as the “heart and soul” of Vancouver’s arts community.
“If we can put in bike lanes, we can support arts and culture in this city,” artist Paul Wong said to wild cheers.
Wong wasn’t the only heavy hitter in Vancouver’s art scene to throw support behind the hotel, whose operators say they were forced to close after the sale.
Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartells, artist Ian Wallace and Vancouver Opera director Jim Wright spoke of the Waldorf as a “cultural incubator.”
For KT Kilgor, an artist whose work is currently on display at the art gallery, venues like this are important for emerging artists.
“We’re finding fewer and fewer spaces that work with contemporary artists,” she said. “We need a chance to begin – if there aren’t opportunities, people are getting up and leaving the city altogether.”
For Carmen Scmid, photographer and Strathcona resident, it’s sad to see the destruction of another “amazing” piece of Vancouver’s history. Nearly 14,000 agree with her and have signed an online petition asking the city to save the hotel.
Mayor Gregor Robertson also wants to protect the hotel. City staff will report on options at council on Tuesday.
And for those that doubt the operators’ business model is viable, Thomas Anselmi issued a statement to “dispel the myth.”
They renovated the hotel for $1.6 million in 2010 and took on an addition $400,000 debt in the first year, but have paid down $105,000 between Sept. 2012 and Jan. 2013.
The team is waiting to hear from Solterra about a potential meeting.