More construction for the Cultch

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      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.



      Alan Layton

      Dec 13, 2013 at 10:36am

      So they're going to rip down a historic building because it is in disrepair??? Aren't they the owners and if so why did they let it fall in to disrepair? This stinks and I believe they let it fall to pieces on purpose. Screw these a-holes.

      Truth BOMB

      Dec 14, 2013 at 2:54am

      Yeah! Right on! And fuck you too Alan Layton! Fuck everyone!

      Penny Street

      Dec 15, 2013 at 11:01pm

      I agree with Alan Layton ...
      And they want to get money from "Canadian Heritage" to tear down what was a lovely heritage building and build another Cultch-style modern building? Boo!

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      Maurice Guibord

      Dec 16, 2013 at 10:45am

      There is a major difference between turning a neighbourhood into a theatre destination, and turning that neighbourhood INTO the theatre. Redfern is SO crossing that line, and in so doing, is disrepecting the neighbourhood itself, which is in the throes of self-protection from those who feel the 'hood needs to be "improved". This is a historic building that should be restored and not bulldozed. A couple of decades ago, would Redfern have bulldozed the very church that now provides the cachet of her own theatre? So extend that mode of thinking to the "green house." Please!

      Michael Puttonen

      Dec 16, 2013 at 12:15pm

      Is this the house right next to the church. The old Tamahnous house? That house could be restored, shored, and excavated for a studio theatre below grade, but that likely won't be happening...

      IN ANY CASE...

      That house or its replacement should be named after the Vancouver theatre legend who did his seminal work in that house with Tamahnous. The Vancouve theatre community should honour one of their founders with


      He was intimately associated with that house. For anyone who knows the history of Vancouver's theatre, and the history of that house, not to name it Larry Lillo House - and instead, to name it Jim Green House - is absurd.

      Jak King

      Dec 16, 2013 at 1:37pm

      The Cultch should set about repairing and fixing up the heritage building, not allow it to collapse due to their neglect. Disgraceful. There will be a lot of neighbourhood action to stop this, I am certain.

      Michael Puttonen

      Dec 16, 2013 at 2:43pm

      This is the one-time Tahmanous house they propose to name after Jim Green, is that right?

      A lot of people have a lot of memories of Jim Green, mine from ’80-’81, when he was beginning his work with the DTES Residents' Assn. and I was operating out of the newly-opened Carnegie Centre. Jim Green was just realizing his 'mission' then, he had energy and passion and best of all he came from that Saul Alinsky school that tackles grass-roots problem-solving and takes it beyond the confines of ideology. He got a lot done. Twenty years later, when I encountered him again, he was becoming the very model of a socially-conscious property developer (and I the very model of a Hollywood North hack). God bless his memory.

      But not at Tamahnous house. Vancouver theatre history dictates that this house should be called Larry Lillo House. Lillo is a genuine hero of Vancouver theatre and did his work here with Tamahnous in that house.

      Some place more appropriate should be found to honour Jim Green. In Pigeon Park, or at Hastings and Main, I'd love to see a bronze statue of Jim Green just hanging out. Imagine, he'd be, like, somebody you can talk to.


      Dec 17, 2013 at 6:14am

      Really you can barely tell there's a heritage building in this renovation. They seem determined to modernize the east side. A product of 70's thinking. Already this building doesn't fit on the Drive.

      Blair Redlin

      Dec 17, 2013 at 11:35am

      This is ridiculous! There's no way this important heritage house should be torn down. But it's consistent with the corporatist gentrifying way the Cultch has operated the last few years. Like promoting West Coast Reduction on every single ad and piece of paper. Like "restoring" the historic York Theatre by removing every aspect of heritage from the building. And by building that very ugly modernist structure on Victoria Drive that they use for a theatre lab. Sad. But I don't think the neighbors will let them tear down the Tamahnous house

      Not Allan

      Dec 17, 2013 at 1:26pm

      All the crying about gentrification, if you like the house so much, buy it yourself and fix it up. But no, that would require you to put your money where your mouth is and you are much better spending other people's money.