Vancouver to convert two warehouses into artist studios as part of pilot program
Two city-owned industrial warehouses are slated to be converted into artist studio space as part of a pilot program approved by Vancouver council today (June 12).
The city will be issuing a request for proposals for the use of a 16,000-square-foot False Creek Flats warehouse space and a 10,300-square-foot building in Renfrew-Colllingwood.
The subleased warehouse space is expected to accommodate about 100 artists between the two buildings, according to Richard Newirth, the city’s managing director of cultural services.
He noted the city-owned spaces happened to be available in areas of Vancouver where there is a lot of demand for artist studios.
“We’ve been seeing sort of a movement of artists eastward in the city,” he told the Straight by phone.
“This really is helping in terms of where the trend is.”
The False Creek Flats warehouse, at 251 and 281 Industrial Avenue, is expected to be leased at a market rate of about $7.50 per square foot plus utilities, and the Renfrew-Collingwood space at 2625 and 2629 Kaslo Street will be leased for about $15 per square foot plus utilities. The lease term will be for between three and five years.
As part of the pilot program, the Vancouver Park Board will also be making six field houses available rent-free to artists in exchange for community-engaged arts projects and programming. Under that phase of the initiative, two studios will be leased in Renfrew-Collingwood, in addition to two in the Riley Park–Little Mountain area, one in Arbutus Ridge, and one in Strathcona. Two other field houses were opened last year.
The program is a result of a motion by Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs that was approved in February, which directed city staff to work with the park board and school board to identify options to provide new artist space.
The city is also in the midst of conducting a regulatory review of artist studios. Vancouver is home to 8,200 artists and has the highest concentration of artists per capita in Canada, according to data cited in the staff presentation to council today.
“Multi-tenant arts studio space is probably one of the highest needs of the arts community here,” said Newirth.
“The regulatory review is more about making it easier to go through the process for artists,” he added. “We’ll continue to do that but I think the best thing that we can do is continue to add more space for artists.”
The city is aiming to have the warehouse tenants move in during the winter of 2012/2013, and artists are expected to begin using the park board facilities by this fall.