While Great Northern Way Campus prepares for its potential future as a home for Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a digital media hub, some of the artists who work at the campus are losing their home.
Vancouver Community Laboratory, or Co-Lab, had to vacate the building that's also occupied by the Equinox gallery when its lease expired Aug. 31.
The space, used by 30 sculptors, blacksmiths, metal and wood workers belonging to the non-profit Co-Lab collective, will be taken over by the Monte Clark Gallery, which will relocate from South Granville this fall.
Sculptor, Vancouver Design Nerd and Co-Lab member Kim Cooper says artists, particularly industrial artists, struggle to find space in Vancouver they can afford and where they're permitted to work, even though the city has been working on the problem.
"The mayor is looking to expand the digital media business and at the same time find a solution to providing more studio spaces for artists," she wrote in an email to the Courier.
"This also seems a bit counterproductive to put digital media companies into warehouses when they can just as easily work in a typical office, or art galleries that can occupy less strict zoning."
Cooper said in a phone conversation Aug. 30 that Co-Lab is grateful to have occupied inexpensive space on the campus between Main Street and Clark Drive that allowed its membership and momentum to grow. But since the group learned five months ago its lease wouldn't be renewed, it's failed to find a new home and had to put its possessions into storage.
Matthew Carter, president of Great Northern Way Campus Trust, agreed industrial artists have played a "extremely vibrant and valuable role" on the site.
But as leases expire, the Trust that represents four partner institutions-Emily Carr, the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University and the B.C. Institute of Technology-is adjusting its tenant population to better suit its future vision for a commercial art district based on a relocated Emily Carr, a creative live-work district of residential artist studios, student and faculty housing, and a digital media commercial-education district.
Carter said the Monte Clark Gallery will "complement" the Equinox, which has attracted crowds of visitors to the campus and injected a "growing sense of vitality."
The Trust will complete a minor renovation on the future Monte Clark space and the gallery will invest its own money in aesthetic improvements with a long-term commitment to the site.
Carter conceded the gallery will also pay higher rent than Co-Lab.
"We enjoy our relationship with a number of the industrial artist tenants, eatART is an example, and we hope that that will continue long term," he added.
The city did not provide a spokesperson for comment by the Courier's press deadline.