W2: Community Media Arts Vancouver BC

Rolling the Dice: Protecting Vancouver’s Cultural Spaces

Waldorf Hotel Tiki Bar, Thursday, Jan 17, 8pm

Proceeds support W2 Legal Fund.

RSVP on Facebook

The past month has seen the threatened closure of the two most innovative culture hubs in Vancouver, W2 and the Waldorf Hotel. Affected artists and community members are saying enough is enough, sharing their pain and uniting a push back against #NoFunCity. Production and presentation venues such as Submerged Studios and the Red Gate were shut down last year by the City of Vancouver, and recent closures were the result of developers making deals without considering the needs of the cultural sector.

Tonight’s ‘Rolling the Dice’ event at the Waldorf Hotel’s famous Tiki Bar will support the W2 community by raising funds for their legal strategy and showing love for another threatened cultural venue, the Waldorf Hotel.  

The W2 community was locked out by the City in December. Brenda Prosken, Director of Community Services, and other City staff, supported a three-month “dark” period for the W2 Media Cafe, jeopardizing events and threatening artists contracts and livelihoods. W2 staff were laid off in December. 

The W2 community has been using the hashtag #W2Belongs2Me and connecting with Vancouverites concerned about City cultural amenity policy that is clearly failing the arts community. Cease Wyss, Squamish media artist, says: “The news this week that the City of Vancouver and Woodward’s developer Westbank are bailing out the new CBC studio theatre with $1 million, shows that developers can build beautiful cultural spaces but Vancouver arts groups can not afford to operate them with this developer-friendly model.” 

The City served eviction notices effective Dec 31 and Feb 28 for the various floors of the 3-story site, after W2 refused to pay $90,000 in strata fees. W2 informed the City back in February 2012 that it was not receiving adequate property management services for these fees and would not pay. W2 also pointed out that if two of the most wealthy business owners, H.Y. Louie and Jimmy Pattison, were not paying municipal taxes for 10 years (in order to make Woodward’s a success), then surely the community amenity should not be paying an amenity fee. W2 has received no operating assistance from the City of Vancouver, and is proposing that it should be supported in its start-up years.  

"We need to be building up Vancouver's arts and culture," stated Gregor Robertson when speaking about the sale of the Waldorf Hotel. He also stated recently, “W2 is an important hub for arts and media groups and community members in the Downtown Eastside.” There are many similarities between the two popular arts hubs, given they have been impacted by developer deals which used the creative sector to make a deal, but ignored the challenges facing the creative community during the start-up phase. While the Waldorf is a privately-owned for-profit business model with an anticipated 15 year lease, and W2 is a community-owned not-for-profit anticipating a 20 year lease, they both strive for economic self-sufficiency and are widely recognized for their innovation and inclusivity as cultural hubs. 

Humorous adaptation of the historic Waldorf Hotel sign, as the Waldorf Hotel opens its doors and welcomes the W2 community for one night, Jan 17.


Demands:

The W2 community is insisting on openness and transparency with regards to what is being seen by many as a hostile takeover of the organization and space. The demands of the community are:

  • The City of Vancouver waive the $85,000 amenity fee, as both commercial projects in the Woodward’s atrium are not required to pay property taxes for 10 years
  • The W2 members and stakeholders must be fully included in any and all decisions concerning W2's future. This includes voting membership in the Society negotiating with the City.   
  • Immediately open the W2 Media Cafe, community meeting room, and basement community broadcasting studio for program delivery.
  • The City stop funding and hiring ‘scab’ (non-union contractors) to operate W2 while locking out W2 programs and services.

Quick Facts:

Here is a video that the community has created in order to speak up and challenge the City and property owner's gentrifying completion of the Woodward's site.

  • W2 invested $400,000 and earned revenues of $1.25 Million (2010-2012) in its operations of the 10,000 sf space, and is largely supported by self-generated funds.
  • W2 operates as an independent community centre, outside of the City of Vancouver and Park Board-funded system.
  • W2 was selected by City Council to operate the space back in 2006.
  • W2 Media Cafe opened in 2011, two years behind construction schedule, and nine years after the Woodsquat leveraged promised community access amenities. W2 is the only community-access amenity in the Woodward's complex. 

Contact: w2belongs2me@gmail.com

Print Version : w2belongs2me_press-release_2013-01-17.pdf

Views: 413

Tags: W2Belongs2Me, Waldorf, meeting

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