More affordable arts events, less red tape

October 21, 2015 | Arts and Culture

At Tuesday night's public hearing, City Council voted to make the City of Vancouver’s Arts Event License a permanent program. The popular program was brought in two years ago as a pilot to make it easier for artists to use industrial and retail spaces legally and safely for occasional events, by combining five City and VPD reviews into one approval.

“For our city to sustain and develop cultural vitality, artists need access to affordable, diverse and safe venues to showcase their work,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City is proud to offer a variety of support programs for culture-makers, and the Arts Event License program is one more way the City is working to develop a dynamic and creative arts community. We are continuing to work to reduce unnecessary barriers so that the arts can thrive in Vancouver.”

Between April 2013 and March 2015, over 100 diverse events took place under the pilot program, which was a 2011 election campaign commitment by the Mayor. The program provides an opportunity for artists who could not otherwise afford to share their work with a Vancouver audience, allowing access to studios, warehouses, factories and other alternative performance spaces. 

By bringing flexibility to these occasional venues, the program allows the City to better support arts and culture across Vancouver while a streamlined regulations process ensures public safety is maintained. 85% of events did not have any incidents or complaints, even previously problematic venues.

Changes approved by City Council last night include:

  • Adopting the Arts and Culture Indoor Event License as a permanent program;
  • Increasing site capacity to 250 people for artist studios, and adding office spaces as eligible under the program;
  • Increasing from two to three the event days per month, to streamline a greater range of event series; and
  • Reducing the license fee.

To read the Council report, visit