221A has made a unanimous decision to cease the operation of 221 East Georgia Street, one site under its operations, as of March 31, 2020 due to untenable conditions resulting from poor maintenance of the overall property. While these issues have escalated over several years, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to exit was recently made for the long-term health of the Organization, the staff, stakeholders and audiences. The facility is the organization’s first programming and administrative venue, under operation since 2008. With such a rich history of developing the organization amidst the challenges and upheavals of the gentrification battle-ground neighbourhood that is Vancouver’s Chinatown, this was not a decision that has been made lightly. While the Organization has grown to operate six cultural space properties in Vancouver, with a total of over 56,000 square feet, the 221 East Georgia Street facility has been formative for 221A’s orientation to the neighbourhood, and cultural sector. The principal reason for this departure is because of the questionable safety of the building resulting from neglected maintenance issues. It was beyond the organization’s control and resources to address the safety of the facility for its staff and audiences.
Office and administrative workspaces will be relocated to 221A’s downtown facility, Howe Street Studios (1265 Howe Street) on the other side of the physical distancing period required by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently all staff are primarily working from home. This new facility at 1265 Howe Street is zoned as an artist’s production site and accessory administrative offices, and is operated in partnership with the City of Vancouver as of Autumn 2019. 221A is also in discussion with its close Civic, Educational and Community allies about establishing partnerships in order to continue its Education & Learning Programs at full capacity on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic measures. Over the long-term, 221A is committed to advancing its Cultural Land Trust Study towards its Business Planning Phase, in order to plan for the security of tenure of cultural organizations for the wider Vancouver central metropolitan area.