Vancouver arts education centre to move into vacated Emily Carr University building

Arts Umbrella will take over the South building on Granville Island previously used by Emily Carr University. The move will increase the Arts Umbrella's space from 14,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet.

'This just gives us a remarkable opportunity,' says Arts Umbrella CEO

Arts Umbrella will take over Emily Carr University's South building on Granville Island. Meanwhile, the much larger North building, is set to become a visual arts and entertainment hub according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (Emily Carr University)

Arts education for young people in Vancouver is getting a boost.

On Friday, the provincial government announced that Arts Umbrella will move into a 50,000 square foot building on Granville Island — the South building — formerly used by Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

"This much larger facility on Granville Island will provide the springboard for us to launch even more community programming," said Paul Larocque, Arts Umbrella's CEO.

The organization provides arts education for children and youth across Metro Vancouver. Emily Carr University recently moved into its new campus along Great Northern Way.

The move will more than double the amount of space available to the organization, from 14,000 net square feet to 50,000. It now operates out of a building on Cartwright Street on Granville Island.

"This just gives us a remarkable opportunity to serve as the new arts education institution on the island and we are just so excited," Larocque said. "It's a life changing, game changing moment of the organization."

The change also allows the organization to remain on Granville Island, where it launched in 1979.

Langara eyed building

Since then, it's taught more than half a million young people to paint, sculpt, dance, act and sing.

Arts Umbrella was competing with Langara College for the Emily Carr University space on Granville Island.

Langara had hoped to move its arts programming there as a solution to its growing student population.

"The Emily Carr South Building would have allowed us to move our creative arts and Industries students into improved space much sooner than any likely alternative solution," wrote Lisa Fisher, Langara's director of communications and marketing in an email to CBC News.

Complex transfer

The school may also look at using space in another large building about to be vacated on Granville Island by Emily Carr University — the North Building located north of Johnston Street.

Plans for that 120,000 square foot space are for mixed use with public access, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which manages property on Granville Island.

Lisa Ono with CMHC said the plan is to make the building a long-term hub for visual arts and entertainment.

"It will really change the east end of the island," Ono said.

The province initially announced the transfer of the South building to Arts Umbrella in March 2017, but a review in October found the original decision-making process was rushed and did not offer opportunities to other organizations to express interest.

But the review also concluded that the organization acted in good faith so the transfer proceeded.