Vision Vancouver pledges to create more studio space for artists
Vision Vancouver today released a campaign pledge to create 10,000 square feet of new studio space for artists if re-elected on November 19.
City councillor Heather Deal, who is running for re-election with the party, said Vision intends to look at tools including using community amenity contributions from new development and using city-owned buildings to create the new spaces, which would primarily be for visual artists.
Deal said the city’s review of regulations affecting studio spaces could open up opportunities for space in office buildings and industrial land.
“By setting an actual numeric target on studio space, we’re making it clear to the city that studio [space] is a high priority for us, that we’re setting down a number so that we have a very bold target to aim at,” Deal told the Straight by phone.
The pledge to create more arts space follows the recent closure of Red Gate studios on East Hastings Street. The building was shut down permanently following months of efforts to bring the building up to health and safety requirements, after the city issued an order to vacate last spring.
Deal said new regulations created through the regulatory review will lead to “protected use” of artist space.
“Part of the regulation review is defining where legal artist spaces can be, so that when the owner wants to get rid of them, we can say well actually that’s a protected use, and if you kick them out, you have to bring more artists in…Those regulation changes will mean that there’s a lot more space in the city which is legally allowed to be artist space and in fact encouraged to be artist space.”
While Deal said the city is always looking for “affordable” spaces, the artist studios would not be below market rates.
“Unless it’s subsidized, you’re still paying market rent,” said Deal. “We’re not talking about subsidization at this point.”
“So affordability will be based on things like location or size…if we open up the industrial lands, that would be more affordable than studio space in the middle of Kitsilano, for instance," she added.
Deal said the studio spaces would be created over the next three-year term.
A Vision Vancouver funded website called "We Back the Juiceman” was recently launched. The site is described as “creative contributions in support of Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver”.
Another site called “We Don’t Back the Juiceman” was launched in response, billed as a site by artists who don’t support the mayor or NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton. A press release launching the website claimed that: “Over the past three years, rents in Vancouver have skyrocketed and affordable spaces have continued to disappear, making it increasingly difficult to produce art in the city. At present, cultural spaces and artists are forced to rent from slumlords at unaffordable rates in exchange for substandard safety and maintenance standards.”
Today’s arts space announcement comes on the heels of Vision Vancouver’s release of part of its election platform Sunday (October 23).
As part of the platform announcement, Vision committed to policies including: increasing funding for police and fire and rescue services; creating 500 new daycare spaces over the course of the next three years; expanding the city’s food cart program; and creating a new public square downtown.
The same day Vision released its platform plank, COPE city council candidate Tim Louis also announced a commitment to reduce the price of public transportation through a community transit pass.
Election campaign events scheduled for this week include an all-candidates meeting hosted by the False Creek Residents’ Association this evening, a mayoral debate hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade Tuesday (October 25), and a candidates debate on Wednesday (October 26) on city-wide planning issues, hosted by the Residents Association Mount Pleasant.