One of the most tenacious collectives in the city, Vancouver Art and Leisure has found a new home.
The organization, known affectionately as VAL, is an artist-run group that hosts electronic music events and gallery exhibitions. Its venues double as studios for artists and spaces for performers, and also offer a meeting place for the LGBT community.
Nicknamed the Lab, the new venue is located at 101 West 6th Avenue, in a 6000 square foot warehouse. Billed in a press release as “half labyrinth, half laboratory”, organizers suggest that it will be an experimental space for art, leisure, and sexuality.
The collective has been forced to move multiple times in the past 12 months. First finding a base at 1965 Main Street—a location that had served as a site for artistic endeavours for the past 25 years—the group was unable to negotiate an extension of its tenancy at the end of May last year. Shuttering the location in June, Vancouver Art and Leisure left behind three rooms used to spotlight different underground electronic music performers.
The collective next moved to a larger venue in Railtown. Colloquially dubbed the VAL Villa, the new address was previously used as ship-building warehouse, and boasted two levels, mezzanine floors, and a specially curated courtyard. On January 4, the location was damaged by suspected arson, caused by flames spreading from several port-a-potties that had been set alight outside the venue. The wreckage forced organizers to postpone upcoming events, obliging more than a dozen local artists to find new studio space, and putting VAL’s 20 event staff out of work.
The new venue will be, the collective hopes, more permanent. Branding the location as a large and intricately laid-out warehouse, the group will be able to relocate its artists' workspaces, and offer a versatile location for electronic music events.
“Get lost in the labyrinth,” its promo material reads. “The lab allows you to transgress through two rooms of sound with dozens of smaller art installation rooms, including a new lounge, and a high-ceiling[ed] dance floor. We hope you lose yourself, lose your friends, and then find yourself anew, no longer alone.”
Vancouver Art and Leisure will launch the new space with three events this month. April 20 will host the venue’s inaugural party, with a showcase from SHAHdjs: a local drum ‘n’ bass collective. That will be followed by Crews Control on April 27—a night that brings together the top talent from Vancouver’s underground music crews—before closing the weekend with Backdoor with Honey Soundsystem, a queer-friendly dance night, on April 28.
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