Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Specifically we are intending to build on our breadth of experience and strong network of support to open a DIY cultural center in or near the downtown eastside of Vancouver. We want to create a central hub for the widest possible range of visual and performing artists, film-makers, technicians, software and hardware engineers, writers, and practitioners of disciplines that don't yet have names. If we're unsuccessful in our bid to lease the City-owned building on Industrial Ave. we will move forward with an alternate location. We intend to be self-financing and self-sustaining, but in the initial phase we will require a major fundraising effort in order to meet City building codes and to obtain the necessary permits and licenses to operate in a safe and legal manner.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In our struggle to save our previous location, we received an enormous outpouring of support from the many people whose lives were touched in some way by their association with the Red Gate. We also became something of a lightning rod for the cultural community in general, symbolizing as we did the loss of many other spaces over the last decade due to rising property values and unsympathetic City officials. We see a change in attitude from City Hall in recent months as the impact of this loss has rippled throughout the community, eventually echoing down the corridors of power. The City initiative which led to the "request for proposals" to lease various city buildings as non-profit cultural space came directly out of this struggle. We've proved that it's possible for a group of young artists with meager resources to take a disused old building and turn it into one of the most well-used and well-loved cultural spaces in the city, with no outside support of any kind, public or private.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
By providing necessary cultural habitat, at the "germinal layer" we think we can reverse the trend of young artists and innovators leaving Vancouver for greener pastures in Montreal, Berlin, Detroit, and so on. Our proposed new facility will provide a flagship cultural space, the central focus of a new cultural district, operated and controlled by the artists themselves. A place that builds community from the ground up, through mutual affinities and collaborative, cross-disciplinary activities. Such a center will have an impact not only locally, but nationally and internationally, due to the migratory and digitally-connected nature of modern society. The best investment we can make in the future is to provide space for young artists and creators to invent it.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Our obstacles are mainly of a financial and regulatory nature. Space in Vancouver is very expensive by any measure, and simply leasing a space does not guarantee that one will be allowed to use it for all intended purposes. Once we successfully negotiate our new location, we will have significant up-front costs in undertaking whatever modifications to the building that will be required; development permits, use change applications, and any necessary upgrades to wiring, plumbing, and fire safety systems.
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