222 is a 8,000ft² property leased from the Yee Fung Toy Society of Canada, a Chinese benevolent association established in 1904. Since 2011, the 222 E Georgia St property has been used by 221A as a space for collective art production and presentation.

Key Features

222 E Georgia Street

The facility features:

  • Located in pedestrian-friendly Chinatown and close to public transit
  • Key access through lane entryway
  • 12 units for individual artists or non-profit offices (main and upper floor)
  • Semi-enclosed or fully-enclosed units
  • Ceiling heights ranging from 8–10’
  • Monthly rents range from $303 to $1,796
  • Unit sizes range from 130 to 611 square feet
  • Two bathrooms and shared kitchenette
  • Shared washout sink with sediment trap

Submit an inquiry

Sublease Inquiry and Tour Requests

Artists, cultural non-profits and small cultural businesses interested in subleasing space at 222 E Georgia are invited to submit an inquiry.

Submission Assistance

To ensure the participation of people living with disabilities, people who do not have access to specific technology, and/or people who otherwise require assistance, staff will offer telephone or in-person assistance for the completion of the following forms and documentation as well as to support participation in site tours and orientation. Please contact 221A’s Tenancy Relations Coordinator at spyoon@221a.ca to arrange for assistance. 

Eligibility

Eligibility for the space at 222 E Georgia are as follows:

Individuals must: 

  • be an Artist;
  • be the age of majority;
  • be living in BC; 
  • intend on using the premises in a manner that is compatible with facility purposes and capacity

Cultural nonprofits or small cultural businesses must:

  • operate a genuine arts and cultural non-profit organization or small cultural business in BC; and intend on using the premises in a manner that is compatible with facility purposes and capacity

Rental units

The 12 units at 222 E Georgia include:

  • Key access through lane entryway
  • 12 units for individual artists or non-profit offices (main and upper floor)
  • Semi-enclosed and fully-enclosed units 
  • Ceiling heights ranging from 8–10’
  • Monthly rents range from $303 to $1,796
  • Unit sizes range from 130 to 611 square feet
  • Two bathrooms and shared kitchenette
  • Shared washout sink with sediment trap

Accessibility

Unfortunately 222 is not wheelchair accessible.


Unit types

The following table is for illustrative purposes only. Inquire above for up-to-date studio availability.

Unit TypeNo, of UnitsQuality FeaturesUnit Square FootageCommon Area*Monthly Rental Rate*
A, B, or C6Windows, natural light (skylight)142 to 61128%$359 to $1,796
D, G6Artificial lighting, 8–10' ceilings130 to 46828%$303 to $807
*Proportionate common area is calculated using BOMA 2017 standards, which includes the building circulation, common amenities and service areas, minus rentable exclusions such as: rented storage areas, staircases, elevator, and other major vertical penetrations. Total rentable area includes both unit square footage and proportionate common areas.  **Monthly rental rate is the gross rental rates. As opposed to a net or triple net lease, where a tenant pays "additional rent" to cover operating costs and taxes, a gross lease is where the tenant pays rent to the landlord as a gross amount and is not required to pay additional rent to the landlord to cover expenses related to the leased premises.

Rental terms

  • Rental rate is based on factors such as square footage, condition and features of the space.
  • Units are subleased on a 1-year term and may be longer on a case-by-case basis
  • A one-month security deposit is required
  • Tenants must follow 221A’s hazardous materials policy
  • Included in rent: BC hydro, Fortis gas, water and sewage, shared Telus internet, headlease rent, property taxes, waste/recycling, cleaning services (common areas), interior and exterior building maintenance, tenancy arrangements, and administration
  • No GST on rent as 221A is a registered Canadian charitable organization and is exempt from collecting GST on real property. 

Building amenities

  • Washout Sink – washout sink with a sediment catchment
  • Lunch Area lunch area that includes seating, cabinetry, a kettle, microwave and shared fridge
  • Bathrooms – two universal bathrooms
  • Waste Collection – shared garbage and recycling area with regular collection

Founded in 1991, Access Gallery is an independent artist-run centre with a mission to create conditions of emergence for provocative ideas and work in the visual arts. Access Gallery is a non-profit organization and anchor tenant of the 222 E Georgia since 2011. The gallery focuses on enabling critical conversations and risk taking through new configurations of artists, audience, and community. Please note that Access Gallery is not operated by 221A, please contact the gallery directly for any questions. For more information please visit https://accessgallery.ca.

Photo of work by Anna Binta Diallo. Courtesy of Rachel Topham Photography and Access Gallery.

History of 221A at 222

222 is a storefront space and two-storey annex building used as a non-profit art gallery and artist studios. The unit is part of a larger mixed-use building at 224 E Georgia Street, owned by the longstanding non-profit Chinese Benevolent Association, Yee Fung Toy Society of Canada. The Yee's operate their Vancouver chapter and Canadian headquarters out of the building in the adjacent storefront unit at 226 E Georgia Street, where one can also hear the sounds of mahjong tiles clacking on a daily basis until late in the evening. The second and third floors are managed by the Yee's as 12 units of low-income housing. Some residential tenants have been in the building for over four decades.

Now used as a non-profit art gallery and artist studios, the space was formerly leased by a small appliances wholesaler specializing in rice cookers and kitchen supplies called Universe Houseware Appliances. 221A also learned that a very long period, the 222 E Georgia Street space was used by Starboard Pant Factory, a business that manufactured and sold french-cut jeans on site.

As part of 221A's initial occupancy of the facility in 2011, the organization was required to resolve a range of fire-safety concerns. Aside from microfiche dated to the 1940s, the City archives had very minimal in the way of regulatory drawings on file. Since 221A was (at that time) operated exclusively by volunteers, it took over 70 volunteers to complete the first phase of renovations — brought together through a spirit of trust and friendships.

Further into the leasehold tenure, 221A was able to receive more substantive financial capital grants from three levels of government to support further upgrades to the facility, including: an expanded and upgraded sprinkler system, fire-rated exit corridors, improved stairwells and structural laminations. The upgrades required 221A to navigate opaque zoning and building regulation while shouldering attendant financial risks.

The capital grants, brought about an opportunity to undertake a degree of costly fire-safety upgrades without impacting overall rental rates that would have made the space untenable. Typically, changes to older buildings would have been only afforded by business-savvy landlords looking to increase rental rates or by placing the onus on a paying businesses capable of charging higher rates for goods and services.

We learned that safety upgrades are often 'not on the table' for Chinatown Family Clan associations like the Yee's, as no capital reserve funds were in place, opting instead for lower overhead costs, creating savings that would be passed on to the tenants who were often facing economic hardship during immigration. However, the increasing deterioration of building conditions and the health of those who occupy them can make private development attractive, despite the well understood impacts of gentrification. Being able to make critical upgrades through capital funds, despite the treacherous path of building repairs, can be crucial to mitigating the pace of development and while allowing for a form of cultural renewal not premised on wholesale dispossession.

221A is inspired by the history of Chinatown and Chinese Benevolent Societies—one of a blossoming culture despite the presence of intensive racial discrimination—in thinking and planning the future of the neighbourhood. Despite the end of the 'hey day' of Chinatown, a long-standing principle of collective ownership is written into the fabric of many of the Chinese Benevolent Societies.

Image: 221A Collection 2005-18 – A set of tableware purchased from Hon's Wun-Yun House before it closed in June 2017. The set includes 3 powder-blue plastic serving plates, a small pink plastic sauce dish, and a Yanjing brand beer glass.
222 E Georgia Street – Yee Fung Toy Society and Starboard Pant Factory.

A TV Commercial from 1987 with a depiction of the Starboard Pant Factory business including "snowflake acid-wash denim" using the 222 E Georgia Street space prior to 221A's occupancy.

FAQ

1. How does 221A define who is an Artist?

221A defines an Artist as someone who has developed skills through training (not necessarily in an academic institution) or practice in any creative discipline, is recognized by Artists working in the same artistic practice, has a history of public presentation or publication, seeks payment for their work, and actively practices their art. This can include—but is not limited to—:

  • Someone who works or is skilled in any of the fine arts, including but not limited to, painting, drawing, sculpture, literary, calligraphy, printmaking and mixed-media.
  • Someone who creates imaginative works, including but not limited to literature, poetry, photography, music composition, choreography, architecture, video game designers, film and video.
  • Someone who creates functional art, including but not limited to jewellery, rugs, decorative screens, lighting, furniture, pottery.
  • A performer, including but not limited to, musicians, singers, dancers, actors, performance artists.
  • Someone who practices culturally-specific forms of art or craft, including but not limited to Indigenous language, weaving, carving, knowledge transmission through storytelling.
  • Someone who organizes cultural activities including cultural workers and curators.
  • Someone involved in culturally significant practices, including culture bearer or practitioner, designer, technician, tattoo artist, hairdresser, chef/culinary artist, craftsperson, cultural workers dedicated to using their expertise within the community to support, promote, present, and/or teach and propagate their art form through events, activities, performance and classes.

2. How does 221A define who is a non-profit cultural organization or small cultural business?

221A defines a “Non-Profit Cultural Organization” as an incorporated or unincorporated organization that includes as its primary objectives the non-profit creation and/or presentation of artistic or cultural practices or educational activities associated with the creation or presentation of artistic or cultural practices. 

221A defines a “Small Cultural Business” as a for-profit business that has five (5) or less full-time equivalent staff/personnel and has the primary objectives as the creation and/or presentation of artistic or cultural practices/trades or educational activities associated with the creation or presentation of artistic or cultural practices/trades.

3. How are tenants selected?

Tenants are selected through an open process based on the eligibility guidelines of the premises. Where there are multiple eligible parties, submissions will be ranked by staff or a selection committee based on:

  • Alignment with 221A vision and values
  • Quality of artistic practice and impact on career, and 
  • Impact on field and community. 

Priority is given to people who are from communities that are historically excluded from access to cultural spaces, which may include:

  • Black people or people of African descent
  • Deaf and hard of hearing people
  • Disabled people or people who live with mental health challenges
  • Low-income people
  • LGBTQ2+ and gender diverse people
  • Host nations Indigenous people (Musqueam, Squamish, or Tsleil-waututh people)
  • Indigenous peoples (of Canada)
  • Indigenous peoples (outside of Canada)
  • Racialized people
  • Refugees, newcomers, and undocumented people
  • Seniors
  • Women and girls
  • Youth

Additional information may be requested by the staff to support ranking of the applications

4. What is included in the rent?

The rental rates cover the majority of costs for the function of the facility, such as day-to-day and planned long-term maintenance and proportional common area costs. This includes: BC hydro, Fortis gas, water and sewage, shared Telus internet, headlease rent, property taxes, waste/recycling, cleaning services (common areas), interior and exterior building maintenance, fire system, tenancy arrangements, and administration. It also includes access to the shared meeting room.

5. How is rent collected?

Tenants enter into a Pre-Authorized Debit Agreement with 221A, which withdraws monthly rent payments directly from Subtenants’ bank accounts.

6. What happens if a tenant is unable to pay their rent?

221A has an Emergency Assistance Fund used to support tenants facing financial hardship. Tenants must meet certain requirements such as emergency health or financial hardship to be able to receive rental assistance from the Emergency Assistance Fund.


Contact

If you have any questions regarding 222 E Georgia, or would like to find out more information, please contact Sungpil Yoon, Tenancy Relations Coordinator, at spyoon@221a.ca. For other inquiries please contact 221A's office email at hello@221a.ca.