Vancouver theatre being used as space to help create new ventilators

May 8 2020, 3:34 pm

A theatre in Vancouver’s Olympic Village neighbourhood has been temporarily repurposed into a makeshift production hub for medical equipment that could assist with the fight against COVID-19.

BMO Theatre Centre has been temporarily closed for seven weeks, but it is now being used by the Collective Open Source Medical Innovations for COVID-19 (COSMIC), an open-source Vancouver-based medical technology initiative. The theatre is letting COSMIC use their space for free.

According to a release, the group is using a studio to build and showcase their novel designs, including a low-cost approach to ventilators and respiratory equipment. The studio space’s capability to support media and videography allows them to demonstrate the use of their products.

“At this time, with the temporary closure of our theatres, we couldn’t think of a better use for our facility than to provide free space to the COSMIC team,” said Ashlie Corcoran, the artistic director for Arts Club Theatre Company, the not-for-profit that owns and operates the theatre, in a statement.

“As a Vancouver theatre company dedicated to the development of local storytelling and voices, collaborating with COSMIC to showcase their exciting medical innovations is a perfect way for us to continue to celebrate local talent.”

Additionally, the theatre has redeployed their costume and production department staff to sew masks and scrub caps for local frontline healthcare workers. Some of these employees were initially laid off, but later rehired with the help of the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

To date, they have sewn over 110 scrub caps and over 300 masks, with these items donated to Vancouver General Hospital and Lakeview Care Home.