British Columbia

Red tape tangles Vancouver's alternative party scene, promoter says

Matt Troy says parties and events in unconventional spaces are a staple of the alternative arts scene, but between City Council, fire officials and the police, it's tough to know how to make sure such events go off without a hitch.

Matt Troy says parties thrown in unconventional spaces enrich city life

A still from a video of the Emily Carr students' party, which was shut down by police who brought multiple cars and even a helicopter on May 8. (@cleenteath/Twitter)

A Vancouver promoter has decided to offer free consultations on how to get around city red tape after police shut down a party thrown by Emily Carr University students, deploying multiple police cars and even a helicopter.

Matt Troy, with Vancouver Art and Leisure, an artist-run group that throws parties in unconventional spaces such as warehouses and galleries, calls himself the "Red Tape Ambassador."

Troy said he hopes his experience with event promotion can help others in the alternative arts scene avoid situations like the Emily Carr incident on May 8.

He said it's worth it for promoters to put on events in unconventional spaces.

"I think it enriches the city," Troy told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn. "It provides opportunities for artists to do grassroots things in their community.

 "If they want us to be able to jump through this red tape and do these events, we need to know what the red tape is, how to cut it, and how to get around it."

Troy hopes his experience with event promotion can help others in the alternative arts scene avoid situations like the Emily Carr incident on May 8.

Education needed, says promoter

"It's happening less and less, but there have been changes to liquor licensing, event licensing, the permitting process for planners, and a lot of people might not know about the changes," he said.

"There's a certain amount of education that needs to be done to educate the public on what is the best route for planners to make their dreams come true."

Troy says the Vancouver City Council is working to bring alternative events and warehouse parties above board, so they won't get shut down. which he says is a good thing. But he said promoters can experience "unforeseen consequences" —which is where he comes in.

Matt Troy calls himself Vancouver's "Red Tape Ambassador." (Gavin Fisher/CBC)

"You can always see, investigate what the pros and the cons are," he said. "Part of the program is, you're going to bring fire, you're going to bring police, you're going to bring city officials in to look at the space."

"And when that happens, there can be unforeseen financial consequences to the landlord. For instance, the building may not be up to the building code, it might not be wheelchair accessible, there might be other issues."

Troy said different authorities want different things. For instance, while city council may want unconventional spaces to host events, fire officials may say no.

He also questioned why some permanent liquor-serving establishments are allowed to operate despite being inaccessible to wheelchairs, while some temporary venues are not.

With files form CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Meet the unofficial 'Red Tape Ambassador' who helps alternative parties boogie down


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