On July 10, following a meeting of Vancouver City Council, the City of Vancouver released a report entitled Making Space for Arts and Culture, detailing the City's 2018 Cultural Infrastructure Plan. This report is an update to the 2008 Cultural Facilities Priorities Plan and is being presented in advance of the completion of the Creative City Strategy.
In 2016, AMS Planning and Research was contracted to provide a study of Vancouver’s “key gaps” that included reviewing the strengths and challenges of Vancouver’s arts and culture ecology, and to explore Vancouver’s cultural space needs. Their comprehensive report bore the following conclusions:
Vancouver has a prolific arts and culture scene, but arts organizations are increasingly worried about the vulnerability of their spaces. At the same time, the sector is optimistic about organizational growth and new audiences, so the acquisition and expansion of cultural space has never been more important. The report also highlighted barriers to access to cultural spaces for underrepresented groups, including Indigenous populations, as well as restrictive regulatory barriers around permits and licensing, zoning regulations and by-laws.
Ultimately, the AMS report determined the need to establish new spaces in which to live, work and present, renew and renovate City-owned spaces, and secure and protect existing spaces.
Based on the work done by AMS and further consultation, Cultural Services staff developed five objectives:
- Position/align arts and culture as a key priority in City building.
- Expand policies and tools to secure, enhance and develop affordable, accessible cultural spaces in partnership with the arts and cultural sector, government, other agencies and the private sector.
- Incorporate equity, access and reconciliation lenses into cultural space programs, policies and priorities.
- Expand engagement with the community and partners on planning for renewal of City-owned spaces and the development of new spaces.
- Support community initiatives that build capacity.
Pursuant to these goals, City Council made the following immediate recommendations to Cultural Services staff:
- Develop a planning, support and decision framework as well as city-wide targets for arts and cultural spaces that consider community need, the pace of development, displacement and population growth;
- Review and update the Cultural Infrastructure Grant guidelines to improve access, security of tenure, partnership and leveraging opportunities and funding levels for different types and scales of projects;
- Work with Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability, Development, Buildings and Licensing, Long-term Financial Strategy, and Legal Services to explore policies, zoning, regulatory and other tools to enable partnerships to secure, enhance and develop affordable, accessible arts and cultural spaces citywide;
- Work with Long-term Financial Strategy to: (a) Continue to advocate to the Province for the “Split Tax Bill” approach; and (b) Explore options for a time-limited City stabilization fund to assist arts and cultural nonprofits in crisis due to escalating land values;
- Work with the Development and Building Regulatory Review and Development, Buildings and Licensing to explore opportunities to remove barriers and streamline regulations and processes for arts and cultural spaces and activities;
- Develop a framework to engage with Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and Urban Indigenous communities on ways to improve support for more visibility on the land and self-determined cultural spaces;
- Work with Real Estate and Facilities Management to engage the community and partners on planning and feasibility studies of City-owned spaces, including Vanier Park cultural institutions master planning, Orpheum upgrades and Firehall Theatre renewal and renovation plans;
- Work with other City teams and departments, as appropriate, to integrate cultural spaces into City-owned spaces such as community centres, housing projects, social spaces, libraries and other spaces; and
- Explore opportunities and partnerships to support increased knowledge sharing and research that includes joining the World Cities Culture Forum.
The full report, including the 2016 AMS report identifying key gaps in the City's cultural infrastructure, can be found here. The presentation delivered to City Council outlining the findings of the report can be found here. For the Georgia Straight's write-up on the document, click here.