21,000ft² Arts & Cultural Space at 825 Pacific officially opens!

21,000ft² Arts & Cultural Space at 825 Pacific officially opens!

May 14, 2024
From left to right: Grandma Cynthia Lum; Honourable Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs Economic Development and Innovation; Deputy Mayor Rebecca Bligh; Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage of Canada; Brian McBay, Executive Director, 221A Artist Society; Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport; Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. Photo by Kayla Isomura.

Vancouver, May 14, 2024 — This morning, 221A hosted cultural community members and government partners to celebrate the launch of a new arts and cultural space: 825 Pacific.

This seven-storey facility in Vancouver’s Downtown South is a certified commercial Passive House development and includes 26 rent-stabilized (non-residential) artist studios, an event space, a research library, and a coworking space dedicated to artists and cultural workers. Among the new tenants will be the inaugural recipients of the 221A Fellowship Program.

“A future in which all people have the means to access and make culture starts with prioritizing those most historically excluded from the arts.” said Brian McBay, Executive Director, 221A Artist Society. “The programs and initiatives at 221A can now be activated through 825 Pacific, while providing much-needed rent stability to artists and arts organizations at a time of extreme affordability pressure”

"Whether due to inflation, increased evictions or the precarity of existing cultural spaces, the cost of moving into a new space takes away from the work of arts and culture organizations,” said Kenji Maeda, Tenant at 825 Pacific and Executive Director, Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance. “At 825 Pacific, we've been able to meet our members, artists, and other organizations who are making an impact in the community. My hope is that 825 Pacific acts as a baseline for more safe and accessible cultural spaces."

Founded as a student-run collective nearly 20 years ago, 221A has become the largest non-profit cultural space operator in B.C., providing a total of 145 rent-stabilized artist studios and housing units across 9 projects including 825 Pacific. Its majority BIPOC leadership, board and staff are dedicated to keeping artists in the city through studio placement fellowships, residencies, affordable housing and workspaces, education programs, and research and advocacy.

825 Pacific has been made possible through joint efforts and $18.4 million in combined funding from the federal, provincial and municipal governments. These include grants from the Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) by Grosvenor America, the City of Vancouver Cultural Spaces Grant Program, the BC Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia, Canadian Heritage, and the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of Infrastructure Canada’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

“Investing in artist spaces and cultural hubs is more than just financial support; it’s a testament to our belief in the power of art to transform lives and communities,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge. “These spaces serve as incubators for innovation, where artists can freely explore and collaborate, pushing boundaries and challenging perspectives. By supporting them, we’re not only nurturing artistic expression, but also developing vibrant cities and neighbourhoods, preserving our heritage and ensuring that creativity continues to thrive for generations to come.”

“Arts and culture are critical to the well-being of societies and support healthier and more vibrant communities,” said Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, Lana Popham. “Through exciting projects such as 825 Pacific, we are actively breaking down barriers to finding permanent creative spaces and empowering artists to provide for themselves and their families.”   

“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of 825 Pacific which offers much-needed space for artists and cultural organizations to thrive in Vancouver’s Downtown South,” said Ken Sim, Mayor, City of Vancouver. "We recognize that the most critical challenge facing arts and culture in Vancouver, and globally, is affordability of space. Enabling partners to build affordable, accessible, and sustainable long-term arts and cultural spaces is one of Vancouver’s key cultural objectives and helps to support a vibrant arts sector which is vital to our city’s identity, quality of life and economic prosperity.”

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