Creative Spaces

Green Thumb Theatre searches for home
By Stephen Thomson, January 6, 2011

Green Thumb Theatre is looking to find a permanent home from which to conduct its administrative and creative work.

In 2008, Green Thumb had to move out of its headquarters of more than 20 years, an East Vancouver building that was part of the Cultch’s renovation project. At present, the nonprofit theatre group’s administrative work is done out of a building at Dunlevy Avenue and Railway Street.

Meanwhile, rehearsals are done wherever space can be found, providing little certainty, said Ivan Habel, the group’s general manager. “We absolutely have to have a permanent home in order to keep up the level of activity that we do,” he told the Straight.

Established in 1975, the professional company produces plays for younger audiences on such social issues as bullying, substance abuse, and racism.

It puts on about 300 performances annually and travels to more than 100 communities in B.C.

Habel said Green Thumb is in negotiations with the Vancouver School Board over possible use of two buildings on the Sir Guy Carleton Elementary grounds in Collingwood. The goal is to reach a long-term lease agreement with a nominal rental rate, he said.

As part of the potential deal with the school board, Green Thumb would likely have to raise funds to restore a fire-damaged heritage building. Habel estimated $1.5 million would be needed.

As a backup, Green Thumb is also eyeing another site in East Vancouver. But that option would cost around $2 million to purchase the property and construct a new facility, Habel said.

Vancouver city council has approved a cultural infrastructure grant of $19,000 to fund a capital-campaign feasibility study for Green Thumb. The total estimated cost of the study is more than $47,000.

“The grant is helping us build our capital campaign to move forward on our plans to create a large rehearsal and creation space, as well as arts-administration offices,” Habel said.

In December, the city approved infrastructure-grant applications from 26 Vancouver cultural groups. A total of $1 million in funding was allocated for 2010.

Artspeak contemporary gallery looks to expand
By Stephen Thomson, January 6, 2011

The Artspeak contemporary gallery has outgrown its storefront location and is taking steps toward finding more space for its activities and staff. Established in 1986, the artist-run centre is located in Gastown.

The Artspeak Gallery Society currently owns a roughly 1,500-square-foot storefront facility, which is used as a gallery and office space.

Although Artspeak board member Annabel Vaughan declined to provide details, she said Artspeak has an “exciting” idea for the future of the centre.

“We’re in the market to see if we can buy a building, but there’s a whole series of things that have to fall into place in order for that to happen,” she said.

In December, Vancouver city council approved the nonprofit group’s application for a $1,000 grant to fund a proposed real-estate-analysis project.

“The project represents the first logical step toward Artspeak assessing and attaining its future space needs,” reads a city staff report from November.

Vaughan said the analysis will give Artspeak board members options for how best to leverage the group’s real-estate equity to acquire a larger facility. The analysis is expected to present different scenarios that will guide a future feasibility study of potential costs, fundraising needs, and time frames.

“What we’re trying to figure out is what makes the most sense for the long-term health of Artspeak,” Vaughan said.

She said the society intends to apply to the city for funding for the feasibility study in the next round of grant applications.