W2 artists release video urging citizens to support Downtown Eastside community media hub

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      Defenders of the W2 Media Café have created a six-minute video calling on Vancouverites to get behind the artist-run media-arts lab. 

      Sixteen speakers appear, including W2 Community Media Arts Society cofounder Irwin Oostindie, former board member Sid Chow Tan, and urban aboriginal community leaders Penny Irons, Grace Tait, and Scott Clark.

      The city and the society changed the locks on the 10,000-square-foot facility, which includes radio and TV broadcasting capability, in the Woodward's Atrium.

      At the end of the last fiscal year, the W2 Community Media Arts Society had a deficit of $80,000. The city has required an $85,000 annual amenity fee, and at the end of November, the society laid off Oostindie as executive director.

      Tan says in the video that the City of Vancouver never gave W2 a chance to prove itself over the length of its three-year plan. He characterized W2 as a "success".

      "If they want a fight, we're ready for one, we are really ready for one," Tan warns.

      W2 TV producer Deborah Angrave describes the facility as a "skills exchange".

      "One of the things that's really important to me about working here is the number of youth that we've worked with through Bladerunners, through internship programs, through our employment, through the café," Angrave says in the video.

      Aspiring artist Alvin William Johnathan Steven says W2 gives him strength and makes him feel validated.

      "W2 is a great support system because I can come here and I can feel comfortable that I can speak my mind, especially with other people, never mind in the media or on YouTube or on Facebook," Steven states in the video.

      Oostindie points out that people involved in W2 worked for many years to make the Woodward's redevelopment "truly inclusive", and he acknowledged the existence of social housing on the site.

      "But beautiful humanist architecture doesn't actually build community," he adds in the video. "Building community actually happens in human relationships."

      The W2 Community Media Arts Society board says it plans to resume programming after completing a "recovery strategy".

      Comments

      5 Comments

      Nate Rutherford

      Dec 26, 2012 at 10:59am

      The current W2 group cannot and should not be supported. "Building community" does not require tens of thousands of other people's money. Many other collectives have achieved more on a shoestring. The City does not "want a fight." They want exactly what the public wanted; for the Society do honestly live up to its promises and committments. This is valuable real estate, not a hang-out, party-place. Other responsible organizations are screaming to have a chance to flourish in a place like this with their proven capabilities. Next.

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      Sid Tan

      Dec 26, 2012 at 2:06pm

      W2 is a success in every way (inclusivity, diversity, commnity building, media arts, cross-cultural harmony, etc.) and capable of solving the financial situation. The business plan was a e24-36 month timeline... @nate - what do you know about the current group and who are there organisations "...screaming to have a chance to flourish..." in W2?

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      Gameboy

      Dec 26, 2012 at 6:22pm

      The current W2 "group" Is a large cast of individuals who all hold different allegiances, Agenda's and values. There has always been a struggle within the group to meet various goals, Some of them to financial interest and some of them to meet the unique needs of the DTES and surrounding community.

      This is simply the city and investors trying to jump the gun on their aim to gentrify the downtown east-side to reclaim property to be repurposed to suit the foreign investors and help the city pack even more cash into their overstuffed coffers and personal pockets.

      Your entirely misinformed Nate, And you come off well... Kind of like an ignorant dick, However thats not at all out of the ordinary as that is another problem W2 has been working with.

      That problem being total misinformation regarding W2, The woodwards space and redevelopment and what is the actual purpose and intention of all parties involved.

      Looking past the veil Nate we see that this is just more bureaucratic magic and official misdirection. Yes Nate this is valuable property, and it is a hang-out party place some of the time, But so is the granville strip, Should the roxy be shut down for the activity that takes place within?

      Of course not we live in a "free country" and people can do as they please however in vancouver it seems like not cashing in on property and exploiting every possible money making avenue is a criminal activity.

      But what's really so wrong with building a space where you don't have to have at least twenty dollars just to justify your existence in that time and space? Nothing Nate, Absolutely nothing.

      So in summation, I agree partially nate, Certain members of the "W2 Group" should not be supported, Mainly the ones trying to discredit an organization they are a part of in order to cash in and have the W2 media cafe become another Starbucks or boutique chocolate shop to service the bored housewives living in the towers.

      It should stay the community organization that has brought many people together and fostered positive connections that otherwise would have never existed.

      I pledge my support to Irwin Oostindie, Lianne Payne and the true members of W2 who have worked within the confines of a dysfunctional system to deliver to the people what they are eagerly seeking, Authentic community.

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      Norman Fox

      Dec 27, 2012 at 6:40pm

      "This is simply the city and investors trying to jump the gun on their aim to gentrify the downtown east-side to reclaim property to be repurposed to suit the foreign investors and help the city pack even more cash into their overstuffed coffers and personal pockets."

      Really Gameboy? So, the City suckered Irwin and the rest of yous guys in right from the beginning eh? I see something different. An immature cry baby reaction to losing at a big hand of Texas Holdem between the City politicians and the WoodSquakers".

      Both sides bluffing each other out to get exactly what they wanted.

      Stupid waste of money, and an irresponsible use of resources.

      Nate had it bang on.

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      Sid Tan

      Dec 27, 2012 at 11:51pm

      The issue is Community Benefits Agreements resulting from density and use relaxation. A local community advisory board selected a media arts centre as the amenity along with social housing units. The eviction of W2 speaks volumes about developers and COV having lawyers, accountants and access to resources. If W2 fails, Community Benefits Agreements and the Woodward's project would fail the community.

      @norman ... Texas Holdem, as I understand, has defined rules and you aren't out after losing a hand unless "all in." If you must use such an analogy, consider it's the COV staff who are "all in" and W2 community has called. Now COV staff is finding without the community and political capital it was banking on, their "all in" means nothing.

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