Arts and Cultures Forum
Exploring opportunities for the Arts
Storyeum Tour for the Arts Experience Centre
June 12, 2007


The Arts Experience Centre

This tour is an opportunity for people in the arts and business communities to explore the possibilities of creating an Arts Experience Centre as a sustainable enterprise that builds on our cultural and creative resources and contributes to our common and complementary interests.

Participants will have the opportunity to contribute creative and practical ideas, ask questions, talk with representatives from the conversation hosts and provide information that could be helpful to the discussion.


Guests are welcomed in the reception area with a brief introduction and orientation. The conversation hosts will offer their observations and ideas at different locations on the tour and there will be opportunities to contribute ideas on flip charts. Volunteers from host organizations will act as guides.

Host representatives will be available for questions and conversation following the tour in the large exhibition and gallery space. There will be a final opportunity to contribute information, ideas, and interests on lap tops before leaving.

This is an opportunity to experience the space and imagine an Arts Experience Centre. What could it be? How could it work? What would work?

What we know about the space

The space is located at 142 Water Street, one block from the historic Gastown Steam Clock, a short walk from downtown hotels, public transit, the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, and the Vancouver Convention Centre. It is easily accessible from Skytrain, Seabus, the Westcoast Express commuter train, and the Helijet Terminal. Pay parking is conveniently located next door on Water Street.

The total space is approximately 112,000 square feet with a front reception area on Water Street, an approximately 40,000 square foot area developed with theatre and gallery space on the lower level of a second building across Trounce Alley, and a 40,000 square foot gallery and exhibition space at street level on Cordova Street.

The Storyeum space is owned by the City of Vancouver.

What we know

A series of round table conversations were held by the Alliance for Arts and Culture during the months of May and June bringing members of the arts community together to discuss priorities, concerns, and interests of the arts community. The dominant themes emerging from these conversations were:

  • the need for more small and medium sized spaces for performance and exhibition
  • the need for artists to connect more effectively, usefully, and productively within their own disciplines and across disciplines
  • the need to engage the community in ways that go beyond the simple consumption of our artistic products
  • the need to raise awareness, knowledge, and support for the arts in the general community, and
  • the need to increase understanding in the community of the ways in which the arts reflect, animate, express our various cultures and contribute to our shared culture.

British Columbia has the highest ratio of artists in Canada, Vancouver has the highest ratio of artists of every major City in Canada with Victoria having the second highest, and the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood has more than twice the number of artists per capita than Vancouver on average and is the ninth ranked neighbourhood in Canada.

There are several major exhibitions touring Europe, Asia, and North America who could come to Vancouver if we had the space to accommodate them.

What it could be

It could provide a place for people to explore the arts and cultures of the Downtown Eastside and excite interest in the growing number of accessible opportunities to experience the arts in the neighbourhood.

It could provide performance, exhibition, and workshop space for arts organizations like Arts Umbrella and the Emily Carr School of Art, or year round programming space for the Children’s Festival, to engage children and youth in exploring the experience of the arts and excite them about opportunities to express themselves creatively.

It could be a place to showcase our cultural resources giving people live and first hand opportunities to experience the arts and learn how to access current, upcoming, and year round cultural events and opportunities available throughout the city, region and province, – an infocentre for the arts.

It could provide flexible spaces where artists can create, rehearse, and work at their art and where audiences can observe and engage with artists and their experience.

It could be a place where public and private fine arts and technical arts education schools could be concentrated and provide outreach facilities for arts schools.

It could be a community centre dedicated to the arts and operated by the Parks and Recreation Board, which might become the Parks, Recreation and Arts Board.

It could be a place to explore the cultural expression of the Aboriginal, Asian, and European cultural influences that are part of and contribute to our cultural, social, community, and economic development.

It could provide ever-changing opportunities for first-hand contact and experience with artists actively engaged in the art of creating in different areas of creative pursuit, – music, theatre, dance, visual and media arts.

It could have a governance structure similar to that of Granville Island providing an environment for creating an artistic community of micro-businesses with manageable market rents in a financially sustainable community enterprise that contributes to the cultural, social, and economic development of the surrounding business and residential community.

It could provide an opportunity for all levels of government to demonstrate understanding of the contribution of the arts and the value of exciting interest and engaging more people in creative activity and design a model for creating municipal, provincial, and federal government supported community enterprises.

It could include arts-related commercial retail spaces for rent at market rates to offset the cost of public facilities and programming.

It could become a Centre similar to Science World or the Aquarium focused on the pursuit and experience of the arts.

It could attract corporate business interest in financing the capital or operating costs of a unique facility with potential for high visibility and traffic.

It could be operated by a society with a membership that represents the communities of interest that make up the creative and cultural resources of the city, region, or province operating in a manner similar to Tourism Vancouver.

It could provide space at market rates for touring arts events and exhibitions that are able to generate sufficient revenue from admissions and financial partners.

Conversation Hosts

Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, Executive Director, Alliance for Arts and Culture
Leslie Kemp, President, Community Arts Council of Vancouver
Gordon Price, Program Director, City Program, Simon Fraser University
Stephen Regan, Destination Manager, Tourism Vancouver
Roger Chilton, Chair, Arts and Culture, Downtown Vancouver Association