Arts Club Theatre's BMO Centre space finds new life for COVID-19 response

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      After closing its doors on March 17 due to pandemic lockdown, the Arts Club Theatre's BMO Theatre Centre is becoming a temporary hub for a new form of activity. 

      Its rehearsal studio space is being repurposed to house the open-source Vancouver-based medical technology initiative COSMIC (Collective Open Source Medical Innovations for COVID-19) Medical through May. 

      The program will build and showcase novel design solutions there, including ventilators and respiratory equipment. The space is being lent to the group free of charge.

      COSMIC apparently sought out the Arts Club’s studio because it could support media and videography. The group aims to demonstrate the use of products that include a low-cost clinical respiratory support system.

       "When a crisis brings together collaboration, creativity, and commitment at this speed, it brings out the best in us all," Dr. Christopher Nguan, cofounder of COSMIC Medical, said in the announcement today. "COSMIC not only has an overarching mission to prepare for COVID-19 and future pandemics, but we are challenging one another and collaborating with groups like the Arts Club to come up with creative solutions to improve health outcomes and, we hope, save lives.”

      The Arts Club has been pitching in on other fronts, as well: its costume and production shop members—some of whom were laid off due to COVID-19, and then rehired as a result of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)—are helping to sew masks and scrub caps for a local initiative called Protect Our Frontline Vancouver. The employees, heading one at a time into the shop to make the pieces, have helped make over 110 scrub caps and over 300 masks so far, with the protective gear going to Vancouver General Hospital and the Lakeview Care Home in East Vancouver.