VIVO, C-Space, and Western Front are big winners in Mount Pleasant capital-funding recommendations
Nine cultural organizations are in line to share $4.5 million in capital grants as a result of the Rize Alliance project in Mount Pleasant.
It's part of the developer's $6.25-million community-amenity contribution to the city in return for the rezoning of its site near the corner of Kingsway and East Broadway.
The largest amount, $2.3 million, is recommended for the Centre for Arts Innovation, which is a collaboration between the Satellite Video Exchange Society, best known as VIVO, and the Vancouver Creative Space Society.
VIVO's general manager, Emma Hendrix, told the Straight by phone that the partnership is a "really exciting development" for the local arts community.
"We've been talking to C-Space about what the collaboration might look like and how it's going to benefit the theatre community and the media-arts community," Hendrix said. "It's great news. I think what's exciting is it's the main project coming out of that Rize money."
Hendrix added that VIVO is "sort of running at half-mast" with some events taking place along with classes and equipment rentals. "It comes at an interesting time as we haven't actually found a temporary place to lease. So we're looking for a place to lease, but this is really good news for us to know this project is supported."
VIVO had initially applied for $3 million on its own; C-Space initially sought $1.5 million.
C-Space is a joint venture that includes four theatre companies: Boca Del Lupo, Electric Company, Neworld Theatre, and Rumble.
If council approves recommendations in a report going to the finances and services committee on Wednesday (June 11), the $2.3 million would help finance a "co-location model" involving C-Space and VIVO.
According to the report by community services general manager Brenda Prosken, a new facility "would ideally accommodate such uses as a gallery, black box production/recording space, presentation studio, rehearsal and production spaces, micro-cinema, digital and electronics classroom, micro studios, archive, research room, preservation hub, office space and a lobby cafe".
"The total budget is estimated at $6.5 million with approximately 70% towards the purchase of a building of approximately 12,000 square feet," Prosken wrote. "Financing of such a plan would include approximately $3.0 million in mortgages and further fundraising."
She noted that the groups anticipate that it will take about a year to develop a feasibility plan.
The four major anchor tenants of C-Space employed 224 artists in 2012–13 and created 26 productions, reaching nearly 30,000 people.
Vancouver Opera, the PuSh Festival, and other arts organizations have also used its existing space, which is a converted 7,000-square-foot factory in Grandview-Woodland.
VIVO hosted more than 100 performances and screenings in 2013 at its building at 1965 Main Street. The artist-run media-arts collective has an annual operating budget of $500,000, of which $95,000 goes toward rent.
Prosken wrote that VIVO has "played a significant role in mentoring" numerous organizations, including Out on Screen, Cineworks, LIVE Biennale, Indigenous Media Arts Group, Media Eyes, and New Form Festival.
Staff has also recommended that $1.5 million of Rize Alliance's community-amenity contribution go to the Western Front Society at 303 East 8th Avenue.
Western Front had applied for $2 million.
The society's executive director, Caitlin Jones, told the Straight by phone that the organization is thrilled by the announcement.
"It allows us to buy our building we've been in for the last 40 years," she said. "We're equally thrilled that the city listened to our request that the CAC money go not to developing new projects but to supporting existing arts and culture spaces in the neighbourhood."
Earlier this year, the city rezoned the 92-year-old building to allow it to continue being an artist-run centre.
She said spaces are under pressure from gentrification and increased rents.
"I think that's a really, really positive step that the city has made to recognize that existing arts and culture spaces need to help to stay where they are and secure their long-term tenancy throughout the city," Jones added.
She said that the building is owned by one of the original founders, one who joined shortly after, and two others who joined in the 1980s.
"The Western Front Society would buy it from the owners," she noted. "I think it's also important to mention that they've been renting to us well below market rates for this period of time. They don't make any money off of the building. So we're thrilled to finally give them some kind of return on their investment."
Another $400,000 is slated for the grunt gallery, and $300,000 is targeted at Arts Factory.
The program director of the grunt gallery, Glenn Alteen, told the Straight by phone that the funding will help pay off the mortgage and offer the opportunity to buy another suite in the building at 350 East 2nd Avenue or move to a new location.
He acknowledged that the grunt gallery applied for $660,000, which would have provided funding for an endowment. But he still expressed gratitude for the gallery qualifying for civic capital funding.
"This is great," Alteen said. "You don't look gift horses in the mouth."
The Arts Factory applied for $700,000 but is recommended to receive less than half of that.
Prosken noted in the report that it signed a 10-year lease last year with the city for 22,000 square feet of space at 281 Industrial Avenue.
Plans call for 8,000 square feet of artist studio space and 7,500 square feet for production space involving wood, metal, and painting. Another 4,500 square feet would be for a common area and upstairs, there would be 800 square feet for 24 desks for artists and administrative space.
The recommended grant of up to $300,000 would be to complete the artists' studios.
"Prior to the end of the current ten year lease term, in consultation with the Arts Factory, staff will consider and make a recommendation for a lease renewal in light of the City area plans and condition and age of the building," Prosken wrote.
Three organizations—New Forms on Main, eatART Space, and the Beaumont Studios—also applied for the community-amenity-contribution funds but were denied, according to the staff report.