Vancouver staff are recommending four arts groups as tenants for city-owned cultural amenity space in the Woodward's building.
A report going before the city’s standing committee on planning, transportation and environment on October 1 recommends that council approve Kokoro Dance Theatre Society as the lead not-for-profit tenant in the space.
The other groups being recommended to share the space are the Vancouver International Dance Festival Society, Vancouver Moving Theatre Society, and Raven Spirit Dance Society.
Jay Hirabayashi, the executive director of Kokoro Dance Theatre Society, said the venue will also be rented out to community groups at affordable rates.
“I think that the initial aim for that space when it was developed was that it was a community space and that it would be animated with activity, and so we hope to be helping to make it a space that is used by lots of people and is full of creative things happening,” he told the Straight by phone.
Hirabayashi said Kokoro Dance, which was founded in 1986, has been hoping to find a home “for the last 28 years”. The group currently rents studio space in the Harbour Dance Centre and occasionally the Scotiabank Dance Centre.
If council approves the staff recommendations, the four groups will occupy a cultural amenity space consisting of more than 7,000 square feet over three floors. The space includes second-floor offices, the street-level area that used to be the W2 Media Café, and a large basement that will be converted to studio space.
The city has been looking for a new tenant for the cultural space after W2 ceased operations in early 2013.
Staff selected the four groups following a request for expressions of interest in June 2013 and a request for proposals in March.
“The four arts and cultural organizations staff recommended for this important space are deeply rooted in the neighbourhood,” the staff report reads.
“The provision of the shared space will strengthen their operations and further transform this important space in the heart of the DTES.”
According to staff, the selection process was based on whether the applicant had a strong vision that contributed to the Downtown Eastside and Vancouver’s arts and cultural community, whether their proposal had the ability to address a gap that will contribute positively to the community, and whether the organization had the capacity to operate sustainably.
The proposed lease is for a term of five years, at a nominal rent of $10.
Kokoro Dance will be responsible for covering operating, maintenance, insurance, utility, and janitorial costs, in addition to its share of common area maintenance costs, such as heat and light.
For 2014, the common area maintenance costs for the street level and basement space are about $34,000, and $20,800 for the second floor office space.
Kokoro Dance has produced more than 1,000 performances at events including the Powell Street Festival. The organization has an annual operating budget of $400,000.
The Vancouver International Dance Festival Society, which was launched by Kokoro Dance in 2000, produces the annual dance festival, and has an annual operating budget of $640,000.
Vancouver Moving Theatre produces the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival, and Raven Spirit Dance produces contemporary dance rooted in indigenous perspectives.
If council signs off on the lease next week, Hirabayashi expects the space could be up and running within a year, once renovations are completed.