Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network

Breaking the Fourth Wall

The Setting
The Downtown Eastside is the historic heart of our city. It is a neighbourhood challenged by gentrification, illegal drugs, and poverty – yet it has a history of overcoming challenges.

The Downtown Eastside is defined as the area bounded by Victory Square to Clark Drive, and from the waterfront to Terminal and Pacific Avenues, incorporating the communities of Gastown, Chinatown, Strathcona, North Hastings, and Oppenheimer Park.

The Story
CAN is open to all who subscribe to interests and ideas that guide participants in the Network. The members of the Downtown Eastside CAN believe the arts are a powerful resource – a highly accessible means for people with limited resources to expand their knowledge, skills and talents.

The Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network consists of individuals, groups, and organizations who collaborate to plan, organize, facilitate, and create arts programs in the Downtown Eastside. CAN facilitates cooperation among groups within and beyond the community.

The Downtown Eastside CAN is guided by ideas of inclusiveness, respect, and transparency. CAN communicates information and decision making openly. CAN respects the established relationships that each organization has with its patrons and funders and will work to strengthen the individual identity of each. CAN appreciates that diversity is a source of creativity, and encourages listening and communications that foster understanding and respect.

The interests of Downtown Eastside CAN are to

  • contribute through the arts to the social, cultural, and economic renewal of the Downtown Eastside
  • create a healthy, artistically vibrant, and culturally rich community
  • build a neighborhood where people from predominately low incomes with diverse life styles, abilities, and financial means feel at home
  • support individuals and groups in determining their own futures

Downtown Eastside CAN do this by

  • creating opportunities for residents of the Downtown Eastside to experience the arts as an audience
  • creatingopportunities for people to acquire skills and knowledge to encourage personal growth and expression as aspiring and practicing artists
  • developing the community from the knowledge, skills, and talents each participant brings ensuring participation stays open to all with similar interests and ideas providing individual and collective voices for advocacy on issues affecting the community
  • creating a locally-led sustainable economic and social renewal collaboration with local resident, community and business organizations
  • building bridges with people and organizations within and beyond the Downtown Eastside that strengthens understanding and appreciation for the people of this community and their accomplishments

To pursue the interests of the Network and the Downtown Eastside, CAN will

  • Undertake joint communications, promotion and media activities
  • Collaborate in raising funds and in-kind resources
  • Develop joint arts programs
  • Bring arts programs and arts experiences to the community
  • Share resources
  • Provide training and work-experience opportunities in the arts and in activities that support arts programs
  • Provide volunteer and employment opportunities in the arts
  • Enable emerging and professional artists to work together and to learn from one another

The CAN Project
CAN is an unincorporated body and a project sponsored by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, an existing non-profit organization by with charitable status. This relationship will be reviewed periodically to ensure it is working well and to consider the merits of CAN becoming an incorporated entity or remaining within the Community Arts Council.

Community Arts Trust
The Downtown Eastside Community Arts Trust fund is being established to contribute to the sustainability of local arts activities and will work closely with the community arts partnership. Fund-raising for the trust is being supported by the Friends of Carnegie and the Community Arts Network group of senior Vancouver business people.

Founding Organizations
At present the organizations working most closely to establish the Community Arts Network are Carnegie Community Centre, Central City Mission Foundation, desmedia, Firehall Arts Centre, Gallery Gachet, and Vancouver Moving Theatre. Others who are in agreement with the interests and ideas of the network are equally welcome.