Jude Kusnierz, founder of Vancouver-based Beaumont Studios, is calling for a coalition between arts organizations and small businesses, as a series of dramatic property tax increases leaves the fate of the Beaumont unclear. The goal of the coalition is to present a unified voice to the City about rising costs around space that threaten the livelihoods of our local communities.
Beaumont Studios, a community venue with an art gallery and more than thirty artist studio spaces which it rents to tenants, has seen the property taxes on its Olympic Village location skyrocket in the past years. Last year, the tax on the studio rose from $50,000 to $70,500, a 41% increase, with further increases anticipated as the assessed value of the property continues to climb. Beaumont Studios founder Jude Kusnierz says that the increase may be in anticipation of other new businesses with deep pockets, such as animation studios, moving nearby and occupying office space. While Kusnierz thinks the new neighbours could be a potential boon for the studios, due to increased population in the neighbourhood, it is unlikely the Beaumont will be around to enjoy the benefits if they continue to pay tomorrow's property values today.
The board of the Beaumont is currently discussing its options for the future. Kusnierz emphasized that Beaumont Studios is fortunate to have a positive longstanding relationship with its landlord, so every effort will be made to maintain the space in its current location for as long as possible. However, if property costs continue to rise, the Studios may be forced to look into other possibilities, including moving (itself potentially prohibitively expensive) or closing all together.
In the wake of these concerns, Kusnierz is proposing a coalition between artists and small businesses, to combat inequitable property taxes and support healthier communities. She hopes that an organized effort will convince the City to seriously deliberate and take action around these pressing issues. "My hope is that we, together with the City, can come up with the plan to support arts organizations and small businesses," says Kusnierz. "Our whole community is affected by this. We need more hands on deck coming up with positive solutions."
If you're interested in getting involved with the proposed coalition, please contact Jude Kusnierz at firstname.lastname@example.org
[UPDATE 03/07/17: The article has been updated to reflect that Jude Kusnierz has called for a coalition in her capacity as a private citizen, rather than on behalf of the Beaumont Studios.]