CHIPPING away at THE arts
Facing eviction by Lululemon founder’s firm, Red Gate Arts Society sounds off about gentrification
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.
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.