Vancouver City Council to consider allowing more events to be held at informal venue spaces like warehouses

Apr 6 2023, 10:36 pm

With a lack of formal venue spaces and the growing costs to use such spaces, the City of Vancouver could allow non-traditional venue spaces to host more events.

A member motion by ABC councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung and Peter Meiszner seeks to direct City staff to explore the potential of expanding the existing Arts Event License Policy (AELP) by allowing informal venue spaces to host events more frequently.

Examples of informal venues include warehouses, factories, studios, retail spaces, wholesale spaces, and offices.

Vancouver City Council is expected to approve the motion next week directing City staff to come back with recommendations by June 2023 on increasing or doubling the allowable frequency of events held in informal venues each month under the license. This would create “greater flexibility for the arts and culture sector” and contribute to a “more culturally vibrant city for everyone.”

“In alignment with the City’s goals to better support arts and culture and champion creators, there is opportunity to expand the number of events allowed monthly through the Arts Event License,” reads the motion.

It is also noted that the availability of affordable spaces for events is disappearing due to redevelopment, growing land values, and competing uses.

Currently, the Arts Event License Policy allows such informal venues within downtown Vancouver, Downtown Eastside, False Creek, industrial or historic areas, and commercial areas (except C-1 zoning) to host three events per month.

As well, based on existing policy, such events held within informal spaces in these specific areas can reach up to 250 people in size. The permitting costs for the AELP are based on a 30-day period basis, with zero fees for events with 30 or fewer people, $28 for 31 to 60 people, $111 for $61 to 150 people, and $166 for 151 to 250 people.

The motion states the existing AELP regulations were created about eight years ago due to a “growing demand for alternative venues for the presentation of innovative works that could allow audiences to engage in new ways outside of conventional venues such as theatres or halls which are not always suitable for smaller performances or audiences, to support limited budgets, and/or where the artistic intent involves site-specific works.”

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