Four cultural groups will be sharing a new space in downtown Vancouver, following city council’s approval of the partnership Wednesday (February 5).
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Touchstone Theatre, the Documentary Media Society, which presents the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, and Music on Main will lease the community amenity space in the CBC building on Hamilton Street.
Norman Armour, the artistic and executive director of the PuSh Festival, said the central location of the cultural hub “makes a statement” about arts in the city.
“We have lost so many venues, so many exhibition rooms, screening rooms, in the last few years,” he told the Straight by phone.
“To put a performing arts organization in the centre of the city that is both local, national, and international in its mandate, that is dance and theatre and music and multi-disciplinary, is to make a statement about the arts being at the centre of the city’s future, and the centre of our civic economy and our civic life.”
PuSh and Touchstone Theatre, which will be the two groups governing, operating and managing the space, have been working on a plan to share a venue for a couple of years, Armour noted.
He called the collaboration between the four groups an “unprecedented alliance”.
“To bring those four groups together, there’s nothing like it in the city,” he stated.
“And I think it speaks to…the capability and the capacity of this community to collaborate, to share resources and best practices, to create new economies of scale, but secondly I think it points to a key element of our future resilience, our future success, is the act of joining together and working together.”
Armour added that the PuSh Festival has outgrown its current office space.
“You’ve got seven year-round staff, you’ve got anywhere between six and 10 seasonal contractors, you have 19 board members, you have 130 volunteers. There’s a point at which you go this is ridiculous—this is a $1.9-million organization and we have 1,100 square feet for everything.”
Touchstone Theatre artistic director Katrina Dunn told city council Wednesday that landing in a permanent space is a “profoundly meaningful evolution” for the theatre company.
She added the most exciting aspect of the new cultural hub is “what we don’t know about what we’ll do there”.
“The new projects and programming that will arise because of the unique synergy of the co-location, the ways it will change us and help us thrive through the inevitable civic and cultural transformations to come, how it will give us a sense of place for the first time,” she said.
The 8,500-square-foot venue in the CBC building, which was secured by the city in 2006 as a cultural amenity, will consist of office space, meeting rooms and a rehearsal hall.
Following renovations to the space, the organizations are expected to relocate to the facility in the fall.