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Vancouver’s downtown entertainment district caters to older crowd

Hopes grow for all-ages venue in Vancouver

Proponents have welcomed a pledge by Mayor Gregor Robertson to support an all-ages venue in Vancouver. But the leading organizer…

By Jon Hernandez , in Culture , on October 31, 2014 Tags: , , , ,

Vancouver's downtown entertainment district caters to older crowd
Vancouver’s downtown entertainment district caters to an older crowd

Proponents have welcomed a pledge by Mayor Gregor Robertson to support an all-ages venue in Vancouver.

But the leading organizer for all-ages music, SafeAmp, says there is still a long way to go.

“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Grace Loes, a member of SafeAmp’s board of directors. “A lot of things need to fall into place before this materializes.”

Robertson made the undertaking on Reddit during an “Ask Me Anything” on Oct. 23.

“We just dedicated funding in the proposed Capital Plan for the next steps on an All-Ages Music Venue,” he said.

Robertson is hoping to win a third mayoral term when in the municipal elections on Nov. 15.

The need for a space

For two years the B.C. Liquor Board has prohibited Vancouver bars and clubs from holding all-ages events, in effort to tame underage drinking, which has excluded the city’s youth from most live shows.

19+ sign keeps out Vancouver's underage
19+ sign keeps out Vancouver’s underage

Proponents of a new all-ages venue believe it would bring live music back to the Vancouver’s younger audiences, providing a space for young people to socialize.

“It’s a creative and a cultural facility,” said Mark Pickersgill, board member of SafeAmp. He believes an all-ages music venues offer a positive outlet for youth to turn to, hopefully deterring them from crime and drug use.

“We believe that all-ages music is a pubic service.”

The non-profit volunteer organization currently puts on small all-ages shows at Astorino’s in East Vancouver. It is looking to the city for a subsidy to create a better space that could house bigger bands.

A feasible plan

After a successful campaign aimed at city council to recognize the need for an all-ages venue, SafeAmp is now looking to the City to provide a permanent space at a well below-market price.

The organization would still turn to volunteers to help out. But a subsidized rent would free up cash to hire a core team to run the venue.

To obtain the funding, SafeAmp would need to provide city council with a financial plan that highlights the space’s costs, revenue, and prospects for long-term success.

“We will have to prove our feasibility,” said Pickersgill.

Opposition’s response

The opposition COPE party supports plans for an all-ages venue but questions how far Vision is committed to the idea.

COPE city council hopeful Keith Higgins offered a response to Robertson’s announcement.

“I don’t think it’s being identified as a priority need by the cultural office in the city,” said Higgins, “we know the space is needed.”

Should COPE take control of city council, Higgins said they would find a way to make an all-ages venue a priority.