City approves new arts event program; first of its kind in Canada

March 13, 2013 | Arts and Culture

City Council has approved a new program for indoor arts events, as part of ongoing work to make it easier for artists to hold events, showcase their work, and perform in Vancouver. The city is now the first in Canada to allow arts performances as a temporary use in warehouse and retail buildings.

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“This is another solid boost for Vancouver's arts scene and one that we’re going to keep building on,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver’s artistic community is a major economic driver and we want to do all we can to ensure local performers thrive and people have more opportunities to enjoy music and dance in our city.”

The pilot program is the latest step by City Council to modernize and streamline regulations for artists and to make it easier to hold events. The new program, approved unanimously by City Council, will:

  • Change the City’s zoning to permit indoor arts or cultural events in commercial and industrial areas;
  • Exempt arts events from requiring a development permit, reducing excessive costs;
  • Create a single-point of contact for event organizers when seeking approvals, avoiding costly delays.

“These changes will make it easier for artists to perform in Vancouver, and bring our by-laws into the 21st century,” added the Mayor. “Now, if people want to hold events in galleries, warehouses, or studios, it’s far easier to do so.”

The pilot program is the result of a regulatory review of arts events launched by City Council in 2009. Since then, the City has taken a number of steps to support the arts in Vancouver, including:

  • Changing zoning to allow artist studios in industrial districts, increasing the permitted space from 2 million to 28 million square feet
  • Indexing arts funding and providing the highest grant funding per capita to arts groups of any city in Canada
  • Council’s recent motion to formally identify and provide stronger protection for key Vancouver arts and cultural spaces;
  • The launch of the Arts Factory, a new 21,000 square foot artist space at 281 Industrial, which will provide up to 40 new studio spaces in a City-owned building;
  • The creation of a citizen-led Arts and Culture Policy Council;
  • Over 20,000 square feet of new artist space approved in 2012;
  • 44,500 square feet of space approved at the Wall Centre at 160 West 1st Avenue, designed to accommodate a new 250-seat theatre and a rehearsal hall;
  • The Park Board offering nine previously vacant field houses rent-free to artists in exchange for community-engaged arts projects and programming;
  • Approval for restoring the historic York Theatre on Commercial Drive, to be operated by the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

The report passed by Council last night can be read here: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130212/documents/p2.pdf

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