Vancouver city council votes in favour of new art gallery at Larwill Park site

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      City council has voted unanimously in favour of leasing the Larwill Park site for a new, purpose-built Vancouver Art Gallery.

      In a vote followed by applause at Vancouver City Hall today (April 24), council supported a staff report recommending a 99-year lease for the 1.8-acre site, located at Cambie and Georgia streets. 

      The lease agreement for the city-owned site will be conditional on the Vancouver Art Gallery securing $100 million in funding from the federal government and $50 million from the provincial government before April 30, 2015. An expanded facility at the downtown site will cost an estimated $300 to $350 million, according to the staff report.

      Kathleen Bartels, the director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, called the support from city council “a huge step forward” for the gallery toward achieving its fundraising goals.

      “I think we have tremendous support behind us from the community, from council, from people across the country, and I think once we start having that groundswell of support being obvious across the country, I think other levels of government will come forward,” she told reporters.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson described Vancouver as “coming of age as a creative power house".

      “In every respect on the arts scene, we are well-deserving of elevating to a purpose-built art gallery that brings all of this together and enables us to celebrate and to benefit from significant economic impact that a new gallery will have,” he said.

      Today's vote came after council heard from 16 speakers, all of whom spoke in support of a new, expanded art gallery.

      Paul Vallee, the executive vice-president of Tourism Vancouver, told council he believes a new art gallery could help to draw visitors to the city year-round.

      “Vancouver is certainly well known as a place that has a terrific quality of life in a spectacular setting with welcoming residents,” he said. “But we’re not so well known as a cultural destination, despite our world-class art. We believe that a modern, purpose-built expanded gallery will enhance our cultural reputation.”

      Haida artist James Hart indicated he supports expanding the art gallery because he can see the facility "bulging at the seams", while artist and curator Hank Bull said the decision "ushers us into a new era".

      "It's our time now to build this city through investment in its creativity," said Bull. "It’s time to make the creative city happen."

      Susan Sirovyak, the registrar of collections at the VAG, noted the gallery currently has more than 10,000 works in its collection.

      "This number really doesn’t give justice to the immensity and the complexity and all of the parts that comprise the collection," she told councillors.

      "I'm one of the rare group of individuals who gets to see first-hand the breadth and scope of the permanent collection," she added. "But I'd gladly trade this exclusively for a gallery that will bring this remarkable collection out of the basement and into the world."

      The Vancouver Art Gallery's plan for a new purpose-built location at 688 Cambie Street includes an expansion of exhibition space to 86,500 square feet, from 40,448 square feet at its current site. The VAG also intends to incorporate amenities such as multi-use classrooms and studios, a 300-seat auditorium, and a resource and learning centre. 

      Comments

      16 Comments

      PJ

      Apr 24, 2013 at 7:00pm

      O wow another 150 +mill.for art what MOST people wont see.Why dont the affluent that love this stuff pay for it instead of all the tax payers?

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      cochrane

      Apr 24, 2013 at 8:51pm

      And we have a soon-to-be-vacant monolith standing in this area, that would serve well as a museum. Why not buy the Federal Post Office building on Georgia, and revamp it, rather than massage the egos of a few architects and designers, for $millions?

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      Roy Arden

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:25pm

      This is a day of historic importance. It's good to see the city get behind the VAG, supporting culture and investing in our economic future. Look at the city report for the projected economic benefits the new gallery will bring. Maybe like "PJ" some don't have much interest in art but their children might, and so this is no different than investing in education.

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      Hazlit

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:37pm

      What happens when Harper tells Bartels to f*k off?

      Emmy

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:37pm

      It is an investment in the appropriate display and preservation of the city's art collection. To house it in a much improved facility is responsible stewardship.

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      Birdman

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:48pm

      PJ,it's called the Golden Rule. Them who has the gold make the rules

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      Forest

      Apr 24, 2013 at 10:33pm

      The noveau-riche doyen of the VAG have been salivating at the mouth for a new starchitect gallery (another abomination by Daniel Libeskind, perhaps?). Hopefully, such a thing will not materialize. The fact of the matter is, the VAG simply doesn't deserve such a space. It is a second rate gallery, with second rate blockbuster shows interspersed by a tiresome mantra of Emily Carr, EJ Hughes et al, and boring photo conceptualists who have won fame simply by staying in the same city for their entire career.

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      Jiff

      Apr 24, 2013 at 11:52pm

      Right on, PJ - we should get rid of the art gallery, museums and the symphony and the film festival and all that culture stuff or whatever and stuff. Nobody sees it and like how about more sports and riots?

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      RK

      Apr 25, 2013 at 1:05am

      Why all the support for art now when across the street is the Playhouse that the city let die. I guess no developer and architect buddies would have benefitted from keeping the Playhouse open. Also one less well used parking lot which must thrill his honour to no end.

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      Save Vancouver

      Apr 25, 2013 at 6:49am

      Mayor Gregor Robertson described Vancouver as “coming of age as a creative power house.”

      Does Mayor Moonbeam really believe this kind of twaddle when he spouts it off? Thanks for the $200 million gift to the chattering classes, I'll remember it next year when I struggle to pay my ever-increasing tax bill.

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