Artist Marina Georgiadis was undeterred by the racks of football equipment filling the field house at Elm Park in Kerrisdale during a tour Wednesday afternoon.
"The inside doesn't matter," said Georgiadis. "Artists will see past that."
The park board opened five field houses to the public Wednesday to allow artists to peruse the spaces in anticipation of a new program that will see the empty buildings used as studios. The new Field House Studio Residency program will provide studio space for an individual artist, musician, choreographer, writer or artist collective in exchange for projects that include community involvement. The field houses available are at Elm, Falaise, Hadden, Slocan and Strathcona parks.
Georgiadis said as soon as she saw the football gear she was inspired. Georgiadis is not only a silversmith and jewelry maker, but also makes yarn, a process that uses a lot of manual labour. Georgiadis said decades ago, attaching wet wool to the back of a horse made yarn. "So why not the back of a football team?" she said.
Park board arts programmer Danita Noyes, who was on hand at Elm Park to greet the curious as they arrived Wednesday, said including members of the football team is just the kind of community engagement she'd like to see. She noted Elm Park is close to several residential seniors' buildings, so she hopes that will provide inspiration for art projects. "I can just imagine a group of seniors dancing on the lawn," she said, gesturing to the stretch of green separating the baseball diamond from the field house.
Noyes hopes the artist chosen will also consider the lawn bowling green behind the field house as an option to incorporate into a community project.
Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth said it's time to put these empty field houses to good use. "This is another way for us to expand our services by including field houses," said Blyth. "I can't wait to see it."
Blyth added offering programs that draw people in, such as live performances or lessons, will enhance city parks. "This project is one of our favourites so far," said Blyth.
But not everyone is a fan of the idea.
Community activist Jamie Lee Hamilton, who has in the past run unsuccessfully for a seat on the park board, accused the board of nepotism.
"It seems the Vision park board is giving away our park field houses to their artist friends," Hamilton wrote in an email to the Courier.
Hamilton added while she's not totally opposed to re-purposing the field houses for community use, she's anxious to see an anticipated report listing the condition of each building and addressing whether any will ever be used again as park caretaker homes. She also wants public consultation prior to a decision being made about the fate of the aging field houses. "It seems like someone at city council- has decided to give them away to their constituents and I consider these give-aways as political perks and it is quite inappropriate," she wrote
For more information on the Field House Studio Residency Program and how to apply, visit vancouver. ca/parks.
email@example.com Twitter: sthomas10