Red Gate arts collective rallies to re-open in new venue

Vancouver reviewing applicants for city-owned arts space

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      As Vancouver reviews applications to lease city-owned buildings as arts space, supporters of the former Red Gate centre are hoping to resurrect the collective in a new venue to provide affordable studios for up-and-coming artists.

      Jim Carrico, who managed the former venue in the 100-block of West Hastings, noted the collective closed around the same time as other arts spaces in the block. The building, which was shut down in October 2011, was once home to the JC/DC studio, where artists including Destroyer and the New Pornographers recorded.

      Carrico said until relatively recently, there have been “cheap, crappy old buildings” in the neighbourhood available for artists to set up and hone their craft.

      “It’s part of the normal life cycle…that there’ll be a period of time towards the end of a building’s useful life that it’s not particularly attractive to mainstream businesses, but it’s still functional, and so that traditionally is where the sort of marginal activities go—the experimental activities that aren’t necessarily big money-makers at first,” he told the Straight by phone.

      “And in Vancouver, I think the whole real estate situation has kind of chopped that off the end, because there really aren’t any old buildings anymore, certainly not in the Downtown Eastside—if it’s an old building, it becomes attractive as a development site.”

      Vancouver recently issued a request for proposals from organizations interested in leasing city-owned buildings on Industrial Avenue and Kaslo Street as artist studio space. According to Vancouver’s general manager of community services, Brenda Prosken, the winning applicants will be announced in early October.

      “We are pleased with the number of applications,” she told the Straight by phone, noting staff are reviewing and shortlisting the candidates.

      One of the three locations, a former warehouse on Industrial Avenue, is at the centre of Red Gate’s fundraising campaign. Carrico said the group has had their eye on the building since the previous tenant left in January. They’ve partnered with two other non-profit groups, Vancouver Hack Space and Vancouver Community Laboratory, in their proposal to lease the building as affordable studio space for artists.

      If their application for the city-owned building doesn’t work out, Carrico said the groups will continue to search for another space.

      While some of the artists that were involved with the Red Gate collective have left Vancouver in search of affordable studio space in places like Montreal and Detroit, a core group has remained connected as part of what Carrico refers to as “one big scene”.

      “We called it a cultural wildlife refuge, and I was the game warden, I guess,” he said of the former venue.

      “It started off just as a joke, but I realized it was appropriate…It’s about having, in a sense, habitat. Something that’s not completely bureaucratically planned and scheduled. Just to have a place where people can walk in the door with some enthusiasm, and become involved.”