Vancouver, Dead or What?

November 24, 2008

vancouver skyline

As a fledgeling artist residing in the city of Vancouver, on Canada’s West coast, I am concerned with the state of the arts and the artistic community here. Is this a place to try to hack out a career in the arts? Is there enough public and private support for artists? Is there enough self-support from fellow artists? In other words, are the cultural, political and social environments in this city conducive to productive art-making, and the production of interesting/exciting art?!

I don’t have answers for these questions; however, from my experience of living here for the past 7 years, I am not inclined to be optimistic. Perhaps it is just the “grass-is-greener” syndrome; I hear about what’s happening in Montreal, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, even Austin, TX, and I get jealous. But maybe the foliage is healthier over there. Maybe, despite all the rain, Vancouver’s greenery is yellowing and drying up. Okay, lately we’ve had some minor success with our indie music scene, our photographers have always done well for themselves, and Hollywood loves our cheap locations, but I wouldn’t call Vancouver a hot-spot for culture or the arts. But why not? What is it about this city that we cannot support a thriving and world renowned artistic community?

And maybe (a BIG maybe) I’m totally off the mark with this criticism. And I would urge you to please prove me wrong! I don’t want to give up on the Terminal City; I was raised in British Columbia, and I appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds and (often) defines Vancouver. But it might end up falling into a cultural coma, and we all need to be active in saving the city from this fate.


4 Responses to “Vancouver, Dead or What?”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Vancouver has troubles. I would say that the cost of living is a big deal. Artists aren’t known for making a heck of a lot of money and 9.9 times out of 10 they don’t but that’s not the point of ‘art’ is it? Rents in Vancouver are double what they are in Montreal. Real estate (kind of cost of living) is expensive too. Studios are expensive, Art galleries are sparse. Music venues continue to shut down because of the demand of the condo market. Geography also plays into this: Downtown is basically an island…an expensive island. Whereas Montreal and Toronto, their downtowns are easily accessible from all sides and the flow of people, goods and art is easier. Vancouver’s downtown tends to spread the community out rather than being a focal point. Centrifugal vs Centripetal.
    I don’t think its dead but I do think that Vancouver lacks compared to most cities I have been to.

  2. Dillon Says:

    I believe the Vancouver art scene is difficult to survive in- other than the music and film industry. I think Vancouver has a lot of potential to become an art capital- looking at the homeless situation you can tell theres a lot of hurt and where theres alot of hurt there will be art. But Montreal is defenetly the place to be. The whole city is thriving with art and appreciation for it. Definetly a more world renwoned scene.

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  4. ForSparta Says:

    i think vancouver is a gorgeous city but the increasing rates in crime and homelessness is bringing it down. The olympics have brought the world here but if any of the tourists took a detour down a non-olympic road, you would see the true colors of vancouver.

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