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Things are looking up for Vancouver's starving artists

The economy has brought housing development to a halt in Vancouver. But this is good news for the starving artists…

By Heather Amos , in Vancouver's bitter suite life? , on February 2, 2009 Tags: , , ,

The economy has brought housing development to a halt in Vancouver. But this is good news for the starving artists of our city.

901 Main is a well known building in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Artists have been renting out studio space for as cheaply as $154 a month for years. It is an established cultural centre and provides community for the 30 artists who use it.

Early last year artists from 901 Main banned together to prevent their building from being turned into a condominium complex by the development company Amacon. They made a presentation to city council and created a petition.

The artists argued that there was limited affordable space available for artists studios in Vancouver. Allowing developers to transform buildings like 901 Main would compromise the city’s arts and culture infrastructure.

But the artists were told that they would have to move out by April 2009.

Now there is a ray of hope, development has slowed and renters would like an extension on the move out date.

Since starting this blog I have always considered tenants as people who rent living space. This is the first time I thought of tenants as those who rent working space. As a student it’s easy to forget that space also has to be available to work in.

I was at a concert in a building much like 901 Main. It was an inexpensive spot in the Downtown Eastside that a bunch of artists had combined forces to rent. It was used for practicing music, painting, producing films etc. I could feel, and see, how the creativity from each individual had been combined and interwoven into the work of the others.

Those who can provide an injection of that creativity and originality into our society deserve a place to rent.

With all the development and growth that Vancouver saw, surely it would have made sense to grow in all areas. As more people live in Vancouver there is a need for healthcare, schools, housing, recreation and culture.