Not an arts center—an art center. We need both in our community.
An economically viable visual art center that fulfills the need for exhibition space, studios, and classrooms has been a topic of conversation in Vancouver for decades. Past attempts and plans often patched a visual art component on to a performing arts facility. This can diminish both purposes, and it is ultimately unrealistic to expect that one use should financially support the other. In Vancouver’s experience, the costs and limitations of repurposing older buildings have been a significant challenge in these efforts.
A ton of community assets, meetings, and presentations have taken place over the last decade, and we seem no closer to a professional exhibition space, a place to take classes, and a workspace for disciplines that require the specialized tools of a well-appointed art center. Yet we know that an art center can be a valuable addition to the community as well as an important public amenity that attracts employees and new residents to Vancouver.
What’s gone wrong?
Consider the demise of Vancouver’s Columbia Arts Center and later the failed idea of an arts transformation for the Post Hospital on the West Barracks of the Fort Vancouver National Trust property.