The issue of performance and rehearsal space in Vancouver will be under the spotlight in the coming weeks. On January 15 and January 17, the city’s Cultural Services is holding open houses to discuss its regulatory review of live performance venues, and a set of recommendations addressing outdated and incompatible bylaws will go to council February 3.
On January 26 in a follow-up event that came out of the Making a Scene 2010 conference, the GVPTA is partnering with the city in a workshop to discuss the perceived lack of viable production, rehearsal, and performance space.
“Although the city’s been doing a lot of work in developing cultural facilities in the region, there’s still a real perception in the arts community that there’s a lack of available space,” explained GVPTA executive director Sue Porter, who sits on the city’s cultural-facilities advisory panel. “I think that it can be frustrating on the city’s side because they’re not quite sure why that’s still the case and where the lacks are.”
Last month, the city awarded an $84,000 cultural infrastructure grant to Progress Lab 1422, a collective of four independent theatre companies including Boca del Lupo, Neworld Theatre, Rumble Productions, and Electric Company Theatre Society. The grant will go toward renovations to the collective’s shared rehearsal, creation, storage, and administration space, which it opened in 2008.
“We did definitely take the space on in response to the dearth of adequate rehearsal space in Vancouver,” noted Rumble Productions’ general manager Laura Efron. “We did attempt to fulfill not only the need for our four companies that are a part of this endeavour, but also for the community at large. So when we’re not using it we’re happy to rent it out at reasonable rates to the community.”¦What we’re doing this time is sound proofing, we’re working on some ventilation and plumbing, some carpentry and finishing, wheelchair ramp, and we’re looking at a dance floor.”
The Hard Rubber New Music Society will also be addressing the space issue after receiving a $5,000 infrastructure grant from the city to support a needs assessment study for a music centre for world, jazz, folk, and chamber music in Vancouver.
“The city has advocated for multipurpose venues which, in my experience, hasn’t really worked for music,” explained Diane Kadota, an arts manager who works with the Hard Rubber Orchestra. “They’ve kind of been more geared to theatre because of the longer bookings perhaps, or maybe because the needs are more general. But we need a good acoustic venue with technical support, and just an understanding of the needs of musicians and music presenters and audience members as well.”¦ The three key elements from my point of view are the acoustics, making it friendly to music; accessibility, both for audience and for presenters and musicians; and affordability for both the presenters and the audience.”
The first meeting to discuss the proposed centre and needs assessment will take place January 20, said Kadota.
The city’s cultural services staff declined to comment on the issue before it delivers its report to council.