Brian McBay


Brian McBay (he/him) is Executive Director of 221A, a Vancouver-based cultural research and cultural space operator. Under his leadership, 221A and 221A Artist Housing Society operates a growing network of over 140,000ft² across nine properties that provide non-market artist housing, artist studios, and cultural programming.

As a student Co-founder of 221A during the height of the 2007-08 global economic crisis, he is part of a new generation of leaders in the cultural sector aiming to advance the public appreciation of the arts while also reversing deepening inequality, xenophobia and colonialism in Canada.

Brian's dad was adopted, and is of mixed European ancestry. Brian's mom is Chinese-Canadian. His great-grandfather, "Charlie" Lum Foon Ting, first arrived in Vancouver in 1898 as a teenager. His grandfather was Victor Gee Sow Lum (b. 1921), known as a local Chinatown baker alongside his brother Vernon Kwok Shing Lum (b. 1925) at the legendary Hong Kong Café (approx. 1941–1993).

Brian holds a Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design from Emily Carr University and applies his training to non-profit property design, construction and regulation. Brian was named a 2018 Fellow at the Salzburg Global Forum and has been invited to speak and write on art, policy and urban development at a variety of institutions and public forums.

In 2020, he co-founded the Sector Equity Alliance for Anti-Racism in the Arts (SEARA), a BC-based consortium that raised $300K in emergency relief funds for BIPOC Artists with over 100 non-profit cultural organizations. He is known as an active and outspoken collaborator, critic and advisor, championing inter-cultural anti-racism in government policy and cultural development in Canada.

In addition to his role with 221A, Brian has served on numerous non-profit and public sector boards including the City of Vancouver Arts and Culture Policy Council and the National Gallery of Canada. Brian is currently serving terms as a board member of the Chinese-Canadian Museum of British Columbia and the Greater Vancouver International Film Festival.

Last updated: May 13, 2024