The Vancouver International Film Festival’s fall booking of the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts has been cancelled, the group’s executive director says.
Jacqueline Dupuis said the festival recently received a letter from Four Brothers Entertainment—the company that purchased the centre in 2001—announcing the move.
“It’s kind of like a kick to the stomach because you think you’ve got a great strategy sorted out and you’re really excited about it,” Dupuis told the Straight by phone today (May 14).
“Obviously that leaves a huge hole in the festival venue strategy that we’re now going to have to sort out. And obviously with limited cinema exhibition spaces in Vancouver it’s certainly going to be a challenge.”
The move comes amid reports an evangelical church based in Vancouver has been in negotiations to buy the centre.
A blog post by the lead pastor of Westside Church, Norm Funk, said the church has secured a “purchase sales agreement.”
The March 27 post, which no longer appears on the church’s website, also said the church had not yet finalized the purchase.
Dupuis said the letter from Four Brothers Entertainment said the company is withdrawing from the “proposed contract offer” with the festival and is “no longer booking shows”.
"We had confirmed it, obviously, with the owners and then we recently received a letter just saying that our booking had been cancelled."
She said the letter did not include details about why the booking had been cancelled or about any sale of the centre.
Dupuis said the Vancouver International Film Festival used the centre for its closing gala in 2012.
Organizers were so pleased with the Homer Street facility they planned to use it as a key, full-time venue for the festival’s 2013 edition.
“We had an amazing experience there. It was by far one of the best cinematic experiences that I had seen in my time in festivals. And we were very thrilled with the relationship, all the folks we got to work with there.”
Dupuis said the festival planned to hold nearly 50 events at the centre, including the opening and closing galas, film screenings, and special presentations.
The festival, which runs September 26 to October 11, had already struggled with the closure of the Empire Granville 7, a main venue for screenings.
Dupuis could not say how the loss of the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts would affect the film festival’s programming.
“It’s hard to say at this stage. We’ll do what we need to do to put together an audience-friendly and effective program,” she said.
The festival also plans to use other venues in the fall including SFU Woodward’s, the Vancouver Playhouse, and the Rio Theatre.
Dupuis also complained about the lack of information about the future of the centre. Four Brothers Entertainment and Westside Church have not commented publicly about the sale negotiations.
“If it is in fact sold, it would be ideal if the new owners would work with the key organizations to figure out if there’s something that can be done, if there’s a win-win to be found here,” she said.
An earlier request by the Straight for comment from the centre was referred to Michael Law with Colorado real-estate firm Global Pacific Properties Ltd.
Law could not be reached by phone for comment today.
Global Pacific Properties is owned by the siblings behind Four Brothers Entertainment: Dennis Law, Ronald Law, Christopher Law, and Jeremy Law.