After completing two major construction projects in the last five years, the Cultch’s executive director isn’t ready to hang up her hardhat just yet.
Now that the York Theatre renovation has been completed—which overlapped with the Historic Theatre renewal and construction of new offices—Heather Redfern is now turning her attention to the green house at 1885 Venables Street. The 103-year-old property, which sits adjacent to the Historic Theatre, contains a rehearsal hall and office space. These were, until recently, rented out to various arts groups, providing an added revenue stream for the Cultch’s operations.
The plan, Redfern told the Straight, is to take down the current structure, which is in disrepair, and replace it with a new building designed by York Theatre architect Gregory Henriquez. Provided the City of Vancouver gives its blessing, she intends to have it renamed Jim Green House, in honour of her partner, the activist and politician, who passed away in February 2012.
“It will be a rental venue, which is what it has been,” said Redfern, noting that Green Thumb Theatre had its offices there for 20 years. “What we’re going to do is give them [former tenants] first dibs on the space, then rent it to whoever needs to use it. We’re trying really, really hard to keep it very affordable.”
She noted the Cultch relies on rental revenues in order to remain financially stable. “We definitely need the revenue from that venue, absolutely,” she said.
Redfern has budgeted the project at $2.5 million, with approximately $1.4 million left to raise. The project fund has already got $1 million earmarked from the city, which approved the grant in 2011, as well as $40,000 from the province and $50,000 in private donations.
“For the balance, we need to hear on an application through Canadian Heritage,” said Redfern. Development plans are currently being drawn up for submission to the city. Redfern said she hopes to see the new building completed in the next year.