To preserve the unique character of Vancouver’s Eastside, and to retain, promote and develop artists and cultural production, the Eastside Arts Society is proposing an Eastside Arts District (EAD).

The EAD will include the geographic area where many artists currently live or work, and would, through legislative, economic and cultural measures, prioritize the creation, support, retention and celebration of arts in East Vancouver.

The EAD will transform the arts and cultural assets in the Eastside from an informal and grassroots network of stakeholders, into a formalized organization with stable funding and secure long-term facilities for artists and cultural venues

Vancouver’s Eastside has one of the highest densities of artists in Canada which contributes to a thriving neighbourhood and local, creative economy. In 2019, the Eastside Arts Society (formerly the Eastside Culture Crawl Society) completed a comprehensive study that documented 400,000 ft2 – almost 10 football fields – of visual art studio space that has been lost over the past 10 years.

The significant amount of artist studio spaces lost on the Eastside are due to rising land values, land speculation and increasing property taxes which has meant rising rents, redevelopment and the loss of cultural production spaces.

These findings, along with a set of strategies to protect, preserve and enhance arts and culture spaces, were published in the award-winning report, “A City Without Art? No Net Loss, Plus!”, which provides the background information for why the EAS is exploring an Eastside Arts District.

While the definition of an Arts District varies across countries and continents, an Arts District is generally considered to be a well-recognized, labelled, mixed-use area of a city with a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities. Arts Districts have been shown to successfully encourage clustering of cultural industries and support cultural economic development in a designated or defined geographic area.

In March 2020, Vancouver City Council passed a resolution in support of an Eastside Arts District and directed staff to report back on recommendations for establishing a District. Staff were asked to consult with the EAS, as well as local artists, residents and businesses to prepare an Eastside Arts District strategy.

Energized by this support from City Council, the EAS has begun exploring how to establish an Eastside Arts District (EAD) that will build capacity for artists and arts organizations and secure space for arts and culture as a cornerstone of community development. This work will include:

  • identify well-defined geographic boundaries
  • define distinct regulatory policies,
  • secure funding sources

What Are the Next Steps?

  • Stakeholder Engagement: The Eastside Arts Society will be conducting key informant interviews and discussions with community members to better understand the needs of all artistic disciplines (theatre, film, music, photography, etc.) and to build a network of diverse participants and collaborators (businesses, arts groups, artists, cultural groups, residents, etc.) interested in supporting an EAD. Consultations will help to determine priorities, build capacity, generate support and identify District boundaries.
  • District Boundaries: This map shows the draft boundaries for the EAD. While a variety of data sources were used, not all places of artistic and cultural significance are currently within this boundary.
  • City Policies: The EAS is working with City staff to identify land use, zoning, taxation and development policies that would support the development of an Eastside Arts District. Existing City plans, and those under development, contain policies that are supportive of the concept of an Eastside Arts District. There are currently several plans, policies and studies underway including the Vancouver Plan, Employment Lands and Economy Review, and overlapping local area plans, such as Making Space for Arts and Culture, Culture|Shift.
  • Current Research: The EAS is looking at precedents of other Arts Districts to determine key elements that would be useful to learn around governance, funding, programming, and policy tools.

The Eastside Arts District is an Eastside Arts Society project. Your support to the Eastside Arts Society is an investment in the arts and artists of Vancouver’s Eastside. It allows us to build upon a 25-year legacy of connecting community with East Vancouver’s vital population of artists, creating access to culture and fostering a love of visual art for so many over the years, and for years to come.

The Eastside Arts District would not be possible without the generous support of Vancouver Foundation.

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