Vancouver Street Dance Festival 2017 featuring Christie Lee Charles

Vancouver amplifies support for arts and culture through new 10-year plan

This plan is a game-changer for live music, artist spaces, and public events, all with an eye towards advancing reconciliation and equity so that more voices than ever can have the chance to challenge, move, and excite us.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart

September 11 2019 –

Today, Vancouver City Council approved Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture, a new, overarching 10-year cultural plan that increases support for the sector, champions creators, builds on the City’s commitments to Reconciliation and equity, introduces bold moves to advance community-led cultural infrastructure, and positions Vancouver as a thriving hub for music. This is the first long-term plan approved by this Council. 

“Now more than ever, arts and culture need to be at the centre of city-building— it’s how we strengthen Vancouver’s cultural fabric and tell ourselves and the world who we are and what we’re made of,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “This plan is a game-changer for live music, artist spaces, and public events, all with an eye towards advancing reconciliation and equity so that more voices than ever can have the chance to challenge, move, and excite us.”

Culture|Shift represents the voices of a diverse cross-section of people, and places a particular focus on the voices of historically underrepresented communities, including Indigenous, racialized, disabled, deaf, low income, and LGBTQ2+ communities, to achieve a more accurate and inclusive representation of Vancouver. Over the last two years, Staff engaged with 3,000 Vancouverites in-person and had approximately 4,000 virtual touchpoints. Partnerships with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations helped to develop leading-edge work to prioritize and advance their cultural presence across the city.

“Culture is the lifeblood of cities. Without a vibrant cultural life, cities fail to thrive,” said Branislav Henselmann, Managing Director of Cultural Services at the City of Vancouver. “The traditional, unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples make this place unlike any in the world. Diverse people from across the world have imbued Vancouver’s cultural landscape with the qualities, landmarks, and stories that make our city recognizable, distinct, and exciting. This landscape is critical to our shared economic prosperity, social cohesion, and sense of environmental responsibility.”

Increasing funding to existing programs and developing new programs with a focus on reconciliation, cultural equity, and accessibility

The plan includes a proposed incremental operating budget of $3.2 million for Culture|Shift new investments from 2020-2023. Additional funding will be considered by Council as part of the annual budgeting process.

Over the next four years, the plan proposes to increase baseline support:

  • $750,000 towards support to the cultural grants program to support the ongoing sustainability of the sector as it faces increasing costs of living and doing business
  • $825,000 towards reconciliation and decolonization programs and initiatives
  • $700,000 for cultural equity and accessibility programs and initiatives
  • A new dedicated music role at the City to help advance the Music Strategy, help artists and the sector navigate City processes, and to explore connections and opportunities across the creative industries, as well as a new Navigator position and a new Cultural Equity and Accessibility position within Cultural Services 

The funding for each of these initiatives has not yet been allocated and will be a part of the 2020 budget discussion and debate.

Making Space for Arts and Culture

Making Space for Arts and Culture report - appendix D (30 MB) lays out the City’s long-term commitment to address acute space challenges through new approaches including:

  • Setting Vancouver’s first cultural infrastructure targets with an overall goal of 800,000 square feet of affordable, preserved, renewed, expanded, or new City-owned, non-profit, and private space over the next ten years. This includes affordable artist housing, additional new and repurposed spaces, policies and incentives to work towards no net loss of cultural space, and prioritizing development of local and urban Indigenous cultural spaces.
  • Launching an Affordable Cultural Spaces grant stream to support non-profits providing subsidized affordable space for artists and cultural organizations
  • Establishing a Vancouver Cultural Spaces Fund to support large scale community-led projects including non-profit ownership. The proposed fund will launch with $4.8 million with a future funding goal of $10 million over the next three years.
  • Exploring ways to support development of a community created and led Cultural Land Trust, including: seed funding and new ways to partner and share ownership with the cultural community on affordable spaces secured through development.

Vancouver Music Strategy

The Vancouver Music Strategy report - appendix E (74 MB) includes both City-led and industry-led recommendations to address challenges and opportunities across the music sector, including: 

  • Expanding municipal support for music at the City of Vancouver, including the creation of a new Music staff position
  • Creation of a Music Task Force (co-led by the City, community, and industry) to advance the Music Strategy and its recommendations
  • Increasing access and enabling more spaces for music across Vancouver
  • Expanding City’s music granting activities, including considering the renewal of the Vancouver Music Fund, the first municipal music funding in North America to provide dedicated support to Indigenous and underrepresented artists and communities
  • Increasing opportunities for partnership and collaboration between government, community, and industry to catalyze growth and development across the sector
  • Exploring the creation of an Industry-led Metro Vancouver Music Development Office to advance sector development opportunities and advocate to all levels of government, toward policy change and investment in music

Culture|Shift positions Vancouver as a global leader in cultural planning that addresses the most pressing issues of our times,” said Megan Lau, Co-Chair of the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee and member of the External Advisory Committee. “The Arts and Culture Advisory Committee unanimously supports the overarching new plan.”

Staff will now begin implementing the actions approved in today’s Culture|Shift (1 MB), Making Space for Arts and Culture (30 MB), and Vancouver Music Strategy (74 MB) reports and appendices (23 MB).

Council also approved a Special Event Policy framework (202 KB), supporting free public events accessible to all Vancouver residents. The recommendations are designed to create more equitable and sustainable support for events of all sizes. From small community celebrations to large destination events, this framework will have a positive impact on arts, culture, and music.