Three years ago, the City of Vancouver, the McConnell Foundation, and Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation provided funding to bring Artscape Toronto’s model of creative placemaking to BC. As an independent non-profit urban development organization based in Vancouver, BC Artscape aims to create the conditions for artists and creative communities to thrive by developing and managing affordable space, programs and services. BC Artscape’s focus is to both develop and operate cultural real estate projects of significant scale and to assist with the development of smaller-scale independently managed projects through mentorship and coaching.
Through the first of its many projects, BC Artscape is transforming the Sun Wah Centre (above) into a cultural and creative hub, addressing issues of affordability and security of tenure while creating space for collaboration and creativity and meeting the need identified by the local community.
Additionally, through Artscape’s Mentorship and Coaching programs, participants receive support in targeted consultation sessions focused on building strategic, financial, community engagement, and partnership-building skills, as well as project specific support in key areas including leadership, vision building, planning, operations, and programming of arts and cultural facilities. As expertise on cultural space development is not frequently available for non-profit organizations without engaging the services of professional consultants, the ability to share the experience of decades of cultural space development work has proven tremendously valuable for the Lower Mainland arts community.
Opening in spring 2018, the 48,000 square ft Chinatown Community Cultural Hub provides space for approximately:
- 20 arts and cultural non-profit organizations
- 16 professional artists and artist collectives
- 4 non-profit organizations (education, social justice)
- 5 community groups
- Approximately 50% of the tenant space will be dedicated to Asian-Canadian artists and organizations
- 14% of the tenant space will be dedicated to Indigenous groups
Additinally, BC Artscape has provided support to almost 40 organizations to advance their own cultural space development projects.