CHIP­PING away at THE arts

Fac­ing evic­tion by Lu­l­ule­mon founder’s firm, Red Gate Arts So­ci­ety sounds off about gen­tri­fi­ca­tion

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - News - Tessa Vikan­der

Among the tow­ers and tur­moil of Van­cou­ver’s soar­ing real-es­tate mar­ket, an­other com­mu­nity arts space is be­ing evicted.

Red Gate Arts So­ci­ety, a non­profit that pro­vides space to lo­cal artists at low rates, has been or­dered to pack its bags and va­cate its East Hast­ings space by May 31.

Co-founder Jim Car­rico said the sit­u­a­tion for artists in Van­cou­ver is dire.

“We’re bust­ing at the seams. There’s very lit­tle re­hearsal (or) stu­dio space (or) af­ford­able re­hearsal space,” he said.

The one-storey, 7,875-square­foot build­ing at 855 East Hast­ings is owned by Low Tide Prop­er­ties, one of sev­eral com­pa­nies owned by Lu­lue­mon founder Chip Wil­son.

Red Gate’s long-term lease on the space ex­pired about two years ago, Car­rico ex­plained. Since then, the non-profit has been on a month-to-month rental agree­ment, with an un­der­stand­ing that Red Gate would even­tu­ally be evicted and given three months no­tice to va­cate.

Ac­cord­ing to Car­rico, Low Tide is plan­ning on re­pur­pos­ing and ren­o­vat­ing the space to pro­vide three re­tail rental units. Low Tide did not re­spond to re­peated re­quests for an in­ter­view and Car­rico would not pro­vide Metro with a copy of the “sur­ren­der” no­tice re­ceived by Red Gate.

The area is fac­ing de­vel­op­ment pres­sures, and a se­ries of high­rise con­dos down the street are near­ing com­ple­tion.

“It wasn’t a sur­prise — we’ve been ex­pect­ing it,” Car­rico said. “The con­dos next door are just about fin­ished.”

Red Gate pro­vides emerg­ing artists with space for cre­ativ­ity and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, and con­sid­ers it­self as part of the “cul­ture in­dus­try.” The lo­ca­tion from which it is be­ing evicted in­cludes a gallery space, with ex­pan­sive stu­dio space which is of­ten con­verted into a dance floor for events, in­clud­ing queer dance par­ties and small con­certs.

De­spite hunt­ing for a new lo­ca­tion for at least two years, the or­ga­ni­za­tion hasn’t found any­thing it can af­ford.

“There’s lots of places, but they’re very ex­pen­sive, so we need to have a city plan,” he said. “It’s not just cul­tural space, it’s any in­de­pen­dent busi­ness, any­thing that gives Van­cou­ver char­ac­ter. It’s in­tol­er­a­ble that peo­ple who have lived here and worked here for years and years have to leave, be­cause we’re now ex­pend­able.”

De­spite the im­pend­ing evic­tion, the so­ci­ety said in a state­ment on its web­site that as a six-year-old or­ga­ni­za­tion run by and for artists, Red Gate is “in bet­ter shape than it’s ever been,” be­cause aside from the piv­otal space at East Hast­ings, the or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­ates two other spa­ces, in­clud­ing the Red Gate Re­vue Stage on Granville Is­land.

Jen­nifer Gau­thier/metro

Jen­nifer GAU­THIER/FOR METRO

Red Gate Art So­ci­ety board mem­bers, from left, Mariessa Mcleod, Ja­cob Grad­owski and Daniele Hur­ley stand in front of 855 E. Hast­ings St. on Tues­day. The non-profit has been or­dered to va­cate the space by the end of May.

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