Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

creating connections with art

The Story

Centre A, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, is a portal for exploring, experiencing and appreciating Asian arts and cultures through contemporary art exhibitions, media arts, performing arts, symposia, and learning programs. We serve the interests of audiences in Canada, Asia and other parts of the world.

Our interest is to create connections, conversations, and relationships between people through contemporary art and creative expression to increase our appreciation of the value and contribution of our various and unique cultures.

Global meets Local in Downtown Vancouver

Centre A uses art to connect people, ideas and communities. We create a forum where people can participate in an ongoing conversation about Asian arts and cultures to create interest and build relationships between cultures. Centre A offers one of the liveliest programs of exhibitions, performances, media arts and community events around contemporary Asian art in Vancouver.

We create learning opportunities for students and youth. We send Canadian artists abroad. We bring leading international artists to Canada. We organize tours to major arts events in Asia. We build links with other art centres across Canada and around the world. We create links for artists.


The Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art values the contribution of artists and the part they play in bringing new ideas, new points of view and new ways of seeing the world.
We communicate and connect through the arts. Our interest is to create connections, excite interest and increase appreciation for the presence and contribution of Asian cultures in Canada and throughout the world.

We learn and discover new relationships by exploring our cultural differences. Engaging with contemporary Asian art increases our understanding and appreciation for both our similarities and our differences, and our ability to communicate across our cultures.

We contribute to demonstrating the value of Canadian cultural diversity.

Centre A recognizes Vancouver is an Asia Pacific city and Canada is an Asia Pacific country.

We contribute to Canada’s presence and participation in the Asia Pacific community creating cross-cultural connections, communications and opportunities.

Exciting youth in the creative exploration of Asian art and cultural expression increases our likelihood of building better relationships and ways of doing things in the future.

Learning how to use new technologies and increasing our understanding of new media systems improves our ability to connect and communicate with more people.

We are increasing our presence, our international profile, and our range of activities to help establish Vancouver as an exciting city, and to strengthen Canada’s connections with Asia and to appreciate our own increasingly Asian identity.

We contribute to creating the community, the sense of community, and the development of the community in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

We connect the local and the global communities.

The Story So Far

Centre A was incorporated as a non-profit society in 1999. We opened our gallery in 2000 in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Since then, we have produced over 40 original exhibitions, hosted three international symposia in 2000, 2002, and 2004, established connections with many Vancouver communities, and entered into partnerships with artists and institutions in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Delhi, Saigon and other major centres in Asia and the Pacific region.

We have co-produced programs with Simon Fraser University, the Asian Heritage Month Society, the Powell Street Festival, the Vancouver Opera, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at UBC, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and numerous other local and international galleries.

Centre A is a federally registered charity and a member of the Canadian Museums Association, the BC Museums Association, and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Centre A has created many new opportunities and experiences for a diverse range of audiences. The following is representative of the unique program Centre A brings to Vancouver.

Subodh Gupta, 700 steel bowls, “Empty”

Contemporary Art from India

In 2004, Centre A brought two leading artists from the booming new New Delhi art scene to Vancouver. Subodh Gupta and Anita Dube, who both have busy international careers, use everyday objects to create forceful works of great beauty. Their work demonstrates how art connects with day to day life.

Dinh Q, L�, woven photographs, woven memories

Vietnamese Art

In the spring of 2005, Centre A presented two exhibitions to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war The first was by Calgary-based artist Kim Huynh. The second featured four Vietnamese American artists. A full colour catalogue of essays and documentation takes these exhibitions to a wider audience.

Looking ahead to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Shanghai Biennale

Centre A has organized two tours to attend the opening of this prestigious international event – the Shanghai Biennale. The 2004 edition, “Techniques of the Visible”, was co-curated by Centre A co-founder Zheng Shengtian. Centre A is forging strong cultural links between Vancouver and Asian cities.

Pari Azarm Motamedi (second from right) and friends

Concert and Exhibition for Bam, Iran

Initiated by members of Vancouver’s Persian community and produced in partnership with UNESCO, Centre A staged a highly successful concert, and an exhibition of jewellery and paintings by Pari Azarm Motamedi, which raised $30,000 to support the rebuilding of Bam, the historic Iranian city struck by earthquake on December 26, 2003.

Artist talk by Samina Mansuri. Exhibitions spark conversation.

Making the Connection to Contemporary Art

Contemporary art is a central presence of the world’s most exciting cities, from the Tate Modern in London, which gets over a million visitors a month, to the now expanding Seattle Art Museum. Asian cities are leaders in the creation of new museums and festivals. Asian arts, including film, architecture, and new media, are a significant force in world culture.

Centre A is committed to bringing this kind of energy to Vancouver, a city already well-known for its artists and yet to exploit its full potential as an arts and culture destination.

Mei Kuei Feu, Taiwan – Montreal – Vancouver.”Zone Flottante”

A Space for Reflection

Centre A takes a wide view of Asia and the presence and influence of Asian people and cultures throughout the world.

Our interest is to create an open space for conversation, exploration, appreciative inquiry and observation, and a meeting place where audiences become participants in the adventure of exploring, understanding and creating contemporary art.

We plan to use our new facility as a focal point for taking creative social dialogue into our community, connecting audiences, artists, students, teachers, media and supporters around critical appreciation and cultural exploration, and creating relationships between participants and partners to engage local and global communities of common interest.

What’s Next

Centre A has moved into a magnificent space in the former BC Electric Building, a major civic building at the intersection of Carrall and Hastings Streets in downtown Vancouver. This 5,000 square foot space with 25 foot ceilings will house a large gallery, library, screening room and support services.

Establishing Centre A in this historic building will contribute positively to the vitalization of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provide a solid foundation to build our portal for Asian arts and cultures.

Our immediate priority is to create interest, build support, and attract the resources needed to develop the historic BC Electric into an exciting focal point of creative activity.

At a Vancouver Arts and Cultures Forum event hosted by the Downtown Vancouver Association, Hank Bull talked about the new space and what it means to Centre A and to the City of Vancouver.

Hank Bull on the Opportunity for Centre A – Video

Funding of $150,000 is required to cover the costs of initial renovations and relocate Centre A into this building. Our current budget is approximately $250,000. We estimate an increase of $250,000 a year for five years will allow us to do all the things we think we can do.

We are looking for community interest to assist Centre A in reaching agreements with local, provincial, and federal governments, in securing the support of other community interest groups, and in creating partnerships to increase participation in building our portal. We want to create connections and strengthen relationships between Canada and Asian countries.

We have entered into a lease with the owner and we are working on an arrangement with the city. The owners of the building would get extended use of the density rights over top of this building, because you can’t build on top of it. There are two kinds of density that can be used. There is heritage density for restoring this old train station and there is cultural density for using this space as an art gallery. So the city would get the space, lease it for the length of the building for a dollar, the developer would get the right to build, and Centre A would get the space from the city on a forty year lease.

The idea is to have the space rent free and operating free. The city gets an amenity with very little cost and everybody is happy. This is the plan we are working on. In order to make this happen we need support. We have moved into the building under a temporary rental agreement. Paying the operating costs is already a challenge. We feel we want to take the risk because once we are in here we can demonstrate in a big way what this space can do.

In six short years, we have accomplished a lot. Now it is time to expand our connections, relationships and programs and make Centre A our national and international portal for exploring and appreciating Asian cultures through contemporary art.

Once a train station, now a high speed Internet node

Negotiations are now underway for a magnificent space in the former BC Electric Building, a major civic building at the key intersection of Carrall and Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver. This 5,000 square foot space with 25-foot ceilings will house a large gallery, library and screening room.

Focal point for the neighbourhood

Establishing Centre A in this historic building will contribute to the revitalization of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provide a solid foundation on which to build our portal for Asian arts and cultures.

Opportunities to contribute

Centre A’s immediate priority is to create interest, build support, and attract the resources needed to assist us in moving into the historic BC Electric and making it an exciting focal point for creating our portal.

Funding of $150,000 is required to cover the costs of initial renovations and relocate Centre A into this building. Community interest in creating connections and strengthening relationships between Canadian and Asian cultures will assist Centre A in reaching agreements with local, provincial, and federal governments, in securing the support of other community interest groups, and in creating partnerships to increase participation in building our portal.

Participants and partners, individuals and community groups, and local, national and international organizations and businesses who recognize the value and benefits of Centre A are invited to express their observations, opinions, ideas, and interests.

Participating in creating Centre A can be as easy as visiting our website at

You can also contact us by email at

Hu Jieming, “Raft of the Medusa”

Our Artists

Our Artists create Centre A. They bring the insights, the issues, the provocative ideas, and the experience of art that connects with and informs our audiences, engages us in the conversation of who we are, and excites our interest in imagining and exploring the possibilities.

Our Audiences

Centre A connects many different communities from all walks of life and all cultures. Our audience is culturally diverse. Our audience plays the most important role in developing our programming and determines the future direction of Centre A. Our audience joins our conversations, makes connections, contributes ideas, and creates a strong community. Everyone is a member of our audience.

Our Community Contributors

Centre A offers learning opportunities and experiences for students, interns and members of our community who get involved in the events and day to day workings of Centre A.

Our Young Contributors

Centre A appreciates the participation and contribution of youth in our programs and development. Youth turn things upside down with original questions, their startling curiosity, their fresh expression and their unique perspectives.

Our Media Partners

Our media partners offer access to their audiences, contributing their voice and ability to stimulate public awareness, interest and debate.

Our Financial Contributors

Our financial contributors recognizing the relevance and importance of our interests and the interests we serve, play a vital role in sustaining our operation and in investing in our potential and ability to grow. Their contributions make it possible for us to significantly impact our audiences.

Our Business Partners

Our business partners provide services at reduced rates, make in-kind donations, and contribute by hosting and participating in our events and by using our space as a venue for their events.

Our Funding Partners

Our funding partners understand that investing in our creative industries works for everyone, building a strong society at the same time that it stimulates economic growth.

Our Program Partners

Centre A connects and participates with peer organizations and similar initiatives in a local and global network, sharing information, exchanging ideas, and cooperating on the creation and production of collaborative projects.

Our Board of Directors and Professional Staff

Centre A has a strong Board of Directors, experienced professional staff and dedicated members who work with a wide community of participants and partners to make Centre A successful.

Source: First published on the Vancouver Arts and Cultures Forum