North Vancouver gets a new cultural plan
North Vancouver’s Arts Office is embarking on a new cultural plan. According to Ian Forsyth, executive director of the Arts Office, it will lay out strategies for the North Vancouver region through to 2025, with a view to helping cultural development grow along with both the district and city’s new community plans.
“Too many cultural plans, I feel, are more expressions of the hopes and dreams of the local arts community without a lot of input or relationship to where their host municipality perhaps wants to go, in which case they gather dust,” said Forsyth. “I really wanted this to be something that linked in to what the community wanted, what the municipalities were going for.”
The Arts Office hosted what it called a World Café on April 12 to allow members of the North Vancouver arts community to give input on a series of topics, including public art, facilities, identity, outreach, grants programs, the creative economy, and the role of the Arts Office. This is to be followed up with two open houses on Thursday and Tuesday (May 3 and 8) for residents of the district and the city, with the final cultural plan delivered in June.
Linda Feil, executive director of the North Vancouver Community Arts Council, said what was most needed by the arts community was artist work space.
“I think that we need more spaces for the creation of work—I call that ‘dirty spaces’,” she said. “Too often we build new facilities and nobody wants to mess them up because they’re new facilities.”
Feil and Forsyth both noted that many North Vancouver visual artists either work from home studios or commute to East Vancouver, where studios are more affordable. Feil pointed out that unused buildings in privately owned shipyards could be one source of affordable arts space.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of those old buildings were converted to creative spaces where the public could actually watch artists at work?” she said, noting that the buildings will most likely be converted to commercial use. Feil said she was less keen on tying arts space into new development.
“Sometimes you end up with spaces that aren’t well thought-through as far as the purpose involved,” she noted. “Very rarely do you see developers or municipal staff wanting to take valuable land and designate it as a space for the creative process because of the value of the property.” She suggested developers could contribute to an arts amenity facility to be purpose-built elsewhere.