Vancouver commits to securing spaces for arts and culture

The city is exploring the use of grants, stabilization funds and existing city facilities to help artists, many of whom are struggling with finding places to live and work.

City to explore use of grants, stabilization funds and existing city facilities for artists

The City of Vancouver has approved staff recommendations to secure and enhance spaces for artists to live and work in. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Securing space for arts and culture in Vancouver may soon become easier, after city council approved recommendations to support the growth of places for creative workers to live and work.

Based on a report from city staff, council voted Tuesday in favour of developing affordable and accessible spaces for arts and culture in the city.

"Vancouver's vibrant, diverse arts and culture community puts us on the map as a city with a thriving creative scene," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. 

"These actions will crank up support for our growing arts and culture community, create and preserve important spaces, and focus the city on ensuring that creative people are able to stay and build a future in Vancouver."

The effect of Vancouver's affordability crisis on the arts community has gained attention over the last few years, with artists and organizations like the Red Gate Arts Society losing studio and performance spaces. 

In a release, the city said nearly two-thirds of artists in the city live below the poverty line. 

Part of the plan to address these issues includes a plan to develop targets for arts, cultural and creative spaces, while exploring the use of policies, zoning and regulatory tools to secure those spaces. 

Other key recommendations include: 

  • working with local First Nations to support self-determined cultural spaces;
  • improve access to grants; 
  • explore a stabilization fund for nonprofits in crisis due to increasing land values; 
  • integrating cultural spaces into existing city property such as libraries, community centres and housing projects.

"I do believe that there are many tools that we can utilize, and I think that the community amenity contributions is one, rezoning is another, taxes … I don't believe that there is one panacea to this particular problem, but I do think that there are many," said Esther Rausenberg, executive director of the Eastside Culture Crawl.

The City of Vancouver says it owns or leases 108 cultural spaces, and has contributed $9.36 million in capital grants for arts and cultural non-profits since 2009. 

With files from On the Coast

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Cory Correia


Cory Correia is a reporter with CBC Vancouver. Send him an email at


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