Vancouver seeks more performance spaces to support local music scene

The city of Vancouver wants to support the dwindling local music scene as both venues and rehearsal spaces face closures.

'My dream is to have people come around every corner in the city and find music,' councillor says

The city is looking for ways to reduce regulation, and change licensing requirements to allow for more live entertainment in the city. (Courtesy: Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

The city of Vancouver is working to find solutions that will support the dwindling local music scene as both venues and rehearsal spaces face closures.

The Vancouver Music Strategy is part of the larger Creative City Strategy that Councillor Heather Deal says will focus on reducing regulations to make special events and public spaces more accessible to local musicians.

"It's hard to find space in the city and we know that," Deal told On The Coast's Gloria Macarenko.

This week, the Cobalt Cabaret announced it is shutting its doors for renovations, but owners don't know if they'll reopen.

DJ Denise Fraser, host of CITR's QueerFM, says this inclusive space will be missed and is calling on the city to help preserve the diverse music and art happening in the city.

"It will definitely affect the queer community. I've noticed that in Vancouver we've been able to adapt, people just gradually find new locations and people open their doors, but still, it is difficult," Fraser said.

Deal is keen to broaden the scope of the city's arts event licence — which makes it easier to host pop-up performances in unconventional spaces — to include a larger variety of venues.

Concert in a shoe store

In 2015, the city amended the zoning and development by-law to change the definition of an arts and culture indoor event, and increased the amount of events allowed to be held in a space from two to three days per month.

"We also have unconventional and underutilized spaces, those are places we need to identify," Deal said, recalling a live music event she once attended at a shoe store after hours.

Her focus right now is reducing regulations and expanding policy to allow more plazas around the city to support live entertainment, like the Jim Deva plaza off Davie Street which has the facilities for musicians to plug in and play.

Deal noted that part of the Northeast False Creek plan includes a requirement for buildings to have triple-glazed windows to reduce noise, and residents must sign an agreement that acknowledges the neighbourhood could get loud living in a busy events area.

"My dream is to have people come around every corner in the city and find music," Deal said.

With files from On The Coast