Arts Experience Project

The idea for the arts experience project grew from the idea of exploring the Storyeum space in Gastown to create an Arts Experience Centre in Vancouver.

The conversation began with an invitation to arts community leaders, business community leaders, and other community leaders and decision makers to tour the Storyeum space to explore the possibilities. The conversation hosts were the Alliance for Arts and Culture, the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver, the City Program at Simon Fraser University, and the Downtown Vancouver Association.

The idea attracted the interest of people from the arts community, businesses, community and business associations, educational organizations, and the tourism industry.

The Vancouver Arts and Cultures Forum is interested in engaging people in conversation around ideas and initiatives that contribute to the cultural development of our community, excite interest in the experience of the arts, and increase our appreciation for the diverse cultures that contribute to creating our community.

People interested in the conversation are invited to contribute their ideas.

The conversation

What do we know about the Storyeum space?

The facility is located at 142 Water Street, one block from the historic Gastown Steam Clock, a short walk from downtown hotels, public transit, the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, and the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The facility is steps from Skytrain, Seabus, Westcoast Express commuter train, and the Helijet Terminal. Pay parking is conveniently located next door on Water Street.

The total space is approximately 112,000 square feet with a front reception area on Water Street, an approximately 40,000 square foot area developed with theatre and gallery space on the lower level of a second building across Trounce Alley, and a 40,000 square foot gallery and exhibition space at street level on Cordova Street.

What do we know about the future of the Storyeum space?

The Storyeum space is owned by the City of Vancouver. The City will be issuing a Request for Proposal for leasing the space in the near future.

Between the date the Request for Proposal is issued until the signing of a Lease Agreement or the cancellation of the RFP process, respondents, including their consultants and other agents, must not communicate either directly or indirectly in any manner whatsoever with respect to the RFP with any employee, official or agent of the City including any member of City Council or the Staff Evaluation Committee except as provided for in the terms of the Request for Proposal. The City may treat a contravention of the process which may result in an automatic disqualification and/or cancellation of any resulting Lease Agreement.

What does the arts community say?

A series of Round Tables are being held by the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture during the months of May and June bringing together members of the arts community in discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary groups to discuss the priorities, concerns, and interests of the various disciplines and the community as a whole.

The dominant themes emerging from these conversations are:

  • the extreme need for more small and medium sized spaces for performance and exhibition
  • the need for artists to connect more effectively, usefully, and productively within their own disciplines and across disciplines
  • the need to engage the community in ways that go beyond the passive consumption of our artistic products
  • the need to raise awareness, knowledge, and support for the arts in the general community, and
  • the need to increase understanding in the community of the ways in which the arts reflect, animate, and create our various cultures, – and contribute to our shared culture.

There are several major exhibitions touring Europe, Asia, and North America who could come to Vancouver if we had the space to accommodate them.

What do we know about BC Cultural Life?

Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies launched the Assembly of BC Arts Councils’ conference on May 4, 2007, with questions and information in Is BC a Cultural Mecca? A Statistical Overview. What do we know about BC cultural life? What don’t we know? Is the left coast a major centre of Canadian cultural life? And why should we care whether it is or not? The presentation provides a statistically-focussed view of the province’s arts scene, including indicators on the number of artists, cultural spending, donors, volunteers, arts attendance and more.

The research revealed that of all provinces, BC has the highest ratio of artists in the labour force and the only province above 10 artists per 1000 in labour force, that Vancouver has the highest ratio of artists of every major City in Canada with Victoria the second highest, and that the Downtown Eastside/Chinatown neighbourhood has more than twice the number of artists per 1000 than the City of Vancouver average and is the ninth ranked neighbourhood in Canada.

What do we know about the value and contribution of the arts?

You can contribute information to the conversation in the comment box below

What could it be?

It could provide a place for people to explore the arts and cultures of the Downtown Eastside and excite interest in the growing number of accessible opportunities to experience the arts in the neighbourhood.

It could provide performance, exhibition, and workshop space for arts organizations like Arts Umbrella and the Emily Carr School of Art, or year round programming space for the Children’s Festival, to engage children and youth in exploring the experience of the arts and excite them about opportunities to express themselves creatively.

It could be a place to showcase our cultural resources giving people live and first hand opportunities to experience the arts and learn about and how to access current, upcoming, and year round cultural events and opportunities available throughout the city, region and province, – an infocentre for the arts.

It could provide flexible spaces where artists can create, rehearse, and work at their art and where audiences can observe and engage with artists and their experience.

It could be a place where public and private fine arts and technical arts education schools could be concentrated and provide outreach facilities for arts schools.

It could be a community centre dedicated to the arts and operated by the Parks and Recreation Board, which might become the Parks, Recreation and Arts Board.

It could be a place to explore the cultural expression of the Aboriginal, Asian, and European cultural influences that are part of and contribute to our cultural, social, community, and economic development.

It could provide ever-changing opportunities for first-hand contact and experience with artists actively engaged in the art of creating in different areas of creative pursuit, – music, theatre, dance, visual and media arts.

How could it work?

It could have a governance structure similar to that of Granville Island providing an environment for creating an artistic community of micro-businesses with manageable market rents in a financially sustainable community enterprise that contributes to the cultural, social, and economic development of the surrounding business and residential community.

It could provide an opportunity for all levels of government to demonstrate understanding of the contribution of the arts and the value of exciting interest and engaging more people in creative activity and design a model for creating municipal, provincial, and federal government supported community enterprises.

It could include arts-related commercial retail spaces for rent at market rates to offset the cost of public facilities and programming.

It could become a Centre similar to Science World or the Aquarium focused on the pursuit and experience of the arts.

It could attract corporate business interest in financing the capital or operating costs of a unique facility with potential for high visibility and traffic.

It could be operated by a society with a membership that represents the communities of interest that make up the creative and cultural resources of the city, region, or province operating in a manner similar to Tourism Vancouver.

It could provide space at market rates for touring arts events and exhibitions that are able to generate sufficient revenue from admissions and financial partners.

The conversation

What would contribute to creating an Arts Experience Centre?
What do you think an Arts Experience Centre might look like?
What ideas do you have about what might go on in the space?