The Safe Amplification Site Society celebrated its new part-time home Saturday night with a grand opening and fundraiser.
The non-profit organization that promotes all-ages music events followed up the concert at the defunct Astorinos Ballroom with an afternoon show Sunday.
The shows were the latest in a series of arts and non-profit events occurring in past months at the venue, which is slated for redevelopment, and the start of what Britannia Community Services Centre and its partners hope will be a community site for at least a year.
We would like to have a one-year lease to be able to at least plan and provide some stability, said Cynthia Low, executive director of Britannia community centre. Britannia is operating Astorinos with a month-to-month rental agreement and hopes to create a viable business model.
Mere steps outside the Britannia community centre last week, the Courier spotted a boy wearing a T-shirt that read create not curate.
Low espoused the same vision.
At a time when the city is really investing in arts and culture infrastructure, particularly for large infrastructure, we recently heard the announcement about the [Vancouver] Art Gallery and the commitment that the city has made, Low said. We also need to remember not only are our citizens spectators and viewers and consumers of cultural industries, but we also have to be creators, players, movers and incubators of local arts initiatives that complete the continuum of arts and culture in our city.
Britannia contacted Astorinos landowner when it learned the venue on Venables at Commercial Drive that hosted weddings, baptisms and bingo for 29 years faced eventual demolition and asked if the community centre could use the space before its pulled down.
Britannia is a community centre that was built in the 70s and we are really bursting at the seams, Low said. We dont have room for programming space so we were looking for opportunities to be able to provide a level of service that the community expected and needed.
She contends a community centres role extends beyond mere programming. It has always been Britannias philosophy and principle to really tap into the inspiration and the potential of our local citizens, Low said.
Britannia previously helped establish the East Van Kickstand volunteer-run community bike space in the basement of Astorinos.
The community centre put a call out for groups to operate at Astorinos. It has tentatively lined up SASS, Calypso Hut B.C. Trinidad and Tobago cultural society, Groundswell, which promotes grassroots economic alternatives, and the Turkish Canadian Society to share use of the main floor and contribute to rent and sweat equity.
Low said a committee worked with the city for five months to secure permits for the pop-up community centre.
She wants the city to review its permitting and land use policies to make it easier for non-profits and growing community groups to use unused spaces in their neighbourhoods.
We do have a lot of empty spaces in the city and really to be able to use those spaces for community good would be phenomenal for the vibrancy of the city, Low said.
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