In recognition of its commitment to build and support Eastside artists and arts organizations, the Eastside Culture Crawl Society, has recently rebranded to the Eastside Arts Society (EAS).
To support their vision, the Vancouver Foundation has awarded Eastside Arts Society $300,000 over three years—the largest funding gift the society has received in its 25-year history—to develop a strategic plan for the implementation of a designated Eastside Arts District (EAD).
Vancouver’s Eastside is home to the highest concentration of artists in any neighbourhood across Canada and it is the birthplace of the popular annual Eastside Culture Crawl, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in November 2021. The three-year project will offer collaborative solutions for strengthening capacity and dedicated workspaces for artists, it will expand programming initiatives to complement and enhance opportunities for artists across all disciplines, and it will propose policy changes and new funding models to better sustain the development of the EAD.
“Since 2010, hundreds of artists have suffered devastating losses to their workspaces and communities due to evictions, rent increases, and shrinking studio space. The Vancouver Foundation grant is the first step towards the creation of policies and funding models that will offer sustainable solutions for artists,” says Esther Rausenberg, Artistic & Executive Director of EAS. “At the same time, the establishment of a designated arts district will serve to formally recognize the significant value and impact artists make on a healthy, thriving society, while simultaneously enhancing economic growth and boosting tourism. To support artists is to support our city.”
Adds Chrystale Thompson, EAS Board Chair, “The Eastside Culture Crawl’s arts and culture ecosystem has grown to be so much more than its signature event. The name change knits together our goals of continuing to engage and educate the community through programs that connect the public with the arts, with the solidity and advocacy of preserving and promoting the growth of production space for visual arts through the Eastside Arts District initiative. Through the continued leadership and vision of the Eastside Arts Society, we will continue to create a welcoming environment that celebrates and preserves arts and culture in East Vancouver.”
Over the next three years, EAS will collaborate with the City of Vancouver, which launched its own 10-year plan to support arts and culture in 2019 and passed a unanimous motion in February 2020 to support EAS’ initiative to define and develop an Eastside Arts District.
The Society dives into the three-year initiative that will involve analysis of arts public policies, zoning, and mapping current studios, galleries, theatres, festivals. As well engagement with community stakeholders themselves.
One of the society’s first steps forward is the announcement of CREATE! Arts Festival, a two-day community arts-making festival in August 2021—an idea widely supported by both local artists and the public. Funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the BC Arts Council’s Project Assistance: Pivot Program, the event will feature hands-on art making activities led by local visual artists and craft makers. Keep watch online at eastsideartssociety.ca as more information about the festival will be announced later in July 2021.