Vancouver staff recommend PuSh festival as main tenant in downtown cultural hub

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      The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and three other local arts groups could be getting a new home.

      City staff are recommending PuSh, along with Touchstone Theatre, DOXA festival organizer the Documentary Media Society, and Music on Main as tenants in city-leased space in the CBC building on Hamilton Street.

      According to a report scheduled to go before council next week, the tenants will pay a “nominal rent” of $10 for the 8,500-square-foot space, which was secured by the city in 2006 to be used as a community cultural amenity.

      PuSh is being proposed as the lead subtenant, and will partner with Touchstone Theatre Society in the governance, operation, and management of the space.

      “For two years, PuSh and Touchstone Theatre Society have been working together to realize a co-location project including completion of several feasibility studies,” the staff report reads.

      “The co-location of these four organizations will deliver a strong, synergistic, collaborative and sustainable performing /media arts centre.”

      City staff are recommending the four tenants following a Request for Expressions of Interest and Evaluation process launched in August 2013. The initial term of the lease will be 10 years, with four subsequent five-year renewal options.

      The new cultural space will include offices and work stations, meeting rooms, and rehearsal space.

      In a recent interview with the Straight about the PuSh festival, artistic and executive director Norman Amour said that being in a space with contemporaries would "really raise the game". He noted that his board of 19 people can't meet in the society's current office space.

      City council is scheduled to vote on the report next Wednesday (February 5).




      Jan 31, 2014 at 9:06am

      What a complete waste of money! $10 for 8500 sqft? What about businesses that have problems finding office space because all mayor moonbeam cares about is building more condos?

      It's one thing for the city to encourage a social and arts scene, completely another to ridiculously subsidize certain organizations.

      NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

      Jan 31, 2014 at 11:09am

      Getting in and out of the downtown core SUCKS! Parking is hard to find and expensive, transit inefficient and expensive... its a nightmare.

      I love attending the Arts but dread downtown to the point where its just not worth the additional time, cost and hassle.


      Jan 31, 2014 at 11:34am

      Which Vision members are affiliated with the organizations getting the subsidy via "nominal" rental charges? There is always a catch with this government, always a connection and always a media angle.

      Michael Puttonen

      Jan 31, 2014 at 1:16pm

      The City has been paying common-area costs on this space since 2010, and will keep paying them while the money is raised by these companies to construct the interior, and through the construction period. 2010 to 2016. That will amount to $600k in common costs the City will have paid on an unoccupied space.

      ...from the 2011 article cited above:

      "Richard Newirth, the city’s managing director of cultural services, explained that the common-area costs are set by the developer and, like strata fees in condos, are used for maintenance of shared facilities such as bathrooms. If cultural-amenity spaces remain unoccupied, he added, the city must cover those costs.

      “In this situation, the city takes on the master lease and subleases to a nonprofit or more than one nonprofit,” he said. “So in the case of the CBC, for instance, it has been vacant, and so the city has been paying those costs.”¦The bills come to the city and the city is responsible to them. Until we get tenants in there to assume those costs, the city is on the hook for them.”

      Well-- Looks like these performing arts companies are doing the City a big favour, taking over their $50k a year white elephant. Rather than (how many?) more years of common costs the City should take a hint from their own actions last hallowe'en and give this space a CAPITAL GRANT so these companies can move in ASAP.

      Push has become the cultural heart of mid-winter, for Xrist sake, and Touchstone's season this year is superb. For the new theatre at 100 west 1st, last Hallowe'en the Council awarded a $7million capital grant - 80% of the cost. Here, following that model, a Capital grant to cover 35-40% of the fit-out (as the City will not own the building) would be fair and appropriate, following the 100 W. 1st model. Do it now, rather than later.


      Jan 31, 2014 at 2:23pm

      What a waste of taxpayer money.

      Michael Puttonen

      Jan 31, 2014 at 3:23pm

      Ooops. That would be $300k in common costs 2010-2016, not $600k.

      out at night

      Jan 31, 2014 at 9:59pm

      @ NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

      You know, in real cities, folks get dressed up in their eveningwear and step onto subways and head downtown for some theatre or opera. Maybe you could consider doing something like that, instead of complaining about not being able to find over-priced parking. As someone who works in the downtown cultural hub, I've heard every tale of woe about driving, parking, etc. while the sane people breeze in on transit, caring not about whether their vehicle is getting towed or broken into.

      What do you propose, that we bring things like PuSh to the 'burbs?! Ew!


      Feb 1, 2014 at 9:49pm

      Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

      A vibrant city needs cultural events occurring in its core on a year round basis. Arts organizations need consistent venues in order to develop their audience base.

      Lately, Vancouver has been losing a lot of venues, plus a cornerstone of its arts community (The Playhouse). This announcement is terrific news in so many ways.