Art and Community in
Vancouver’s West End
WE Arts (West End Arts Society), is a non-profit grassroots community organization established in 2013. We are volunteers and neighbors who are working towards a thriving arts and culture community in the West End by advocating for art venues, programming, events, and artists in our West End neighborhood.
is for an art-filled neighborhood where arts and culture bring our diverse community together to engage in creativity.
WE Arts is a grassroots community group established in 2013, committed to building a strong arts presence and sustainable creative economy in Vancouver’s West End. Our goal is to have fun with arts, raise awareness and showcase the value of arts through community engagement, events and workshops.
Currently volunteer run, our priority is to create a stable platform for local arts to thrive and grow.
$25,000 Complete Strategic Action Plan, Hire Executive Director, Upgrade Website.
$50,000 The above and build programming.
$100,000 The above and secure sustainable programming.
Connect and Express…
According to census data Vancouver’s West End is the most artful neighbourhood in Vancouver.
We invite your participation and exploration of the creative experience, full self expression, vitality, developing a closer sense of community and belonging, so breaking the bonds of isolation and loneliness that are so often endemic to urbanization and accelerated modern life.
We celebrate diversity and artistic excellence of our unique and vibrant downtown community. Our intent is to have the West End known and celebrated for the arts and the rich multiculturalism of our community.
Please join our mailing list, sign up on the home page
Artists express yourself, we’d love to see your art and connect you with art lovers everywhere. Join the WE Arts Artist Directory, respond to calls for artists, participate in local events, help us showcase your work and the collective works of our rich diverse community, there’s over 4,000 artists living here. Be sure to join our newsletter to stay in touch.
Volunteer, are you community minded, passionate about the arts, keen to connect with like minded folks, and love to make a real difference now? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Your help in planning and set up of events, visioning, on working teams, with admin and communication, or join the board steering direction, all to support the work and mission of WE Arts, connecting our creative neighbourhood with arts…
Landlords with Vacant Space Venues, animate and beautify vacant spaces with local arts, it’s super affordable, we create aliveness in short term and long term spaces. Do you have empty retail space our local arts can bring to life, transforming tired spaces with colour and temporary art events. Consider your vacant space for art gathering, for pop-up art shows, or you may prefer a beautiful mural on your internal or exterior wall, possibly poster art or original artworks to hang in that vacant window.
The Public at Large art is everywhere, we’re all artists at heart, please register with WE Arts, become a member, sign up for the newsletter, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, Get involved, we’ll keep you informed, support local arts, every little bit helps… be the one in the know, share our events, come out to enjoy and support the arts, have fun, meet locals, and share your own art too…
Local Community & Arts Groups together we can achieve more… how do we best collaborate to expand our capabilities and create a vibrant arts & culture scene in Vancouver’s West End… let’s connect, explore and express.
Developers in the West End as you build the new, please take the time to consider local community needs, talk to us. Including arts & cultural spaces in your new buildings, consider local artists, remember art helps connect people with place, and builds vibrant connected communities.
Local Business art brings people together, what can we create with you? Let’s celebrate your creativity and hard working teams together. Art Walks and murals and local events bring people to you, so in supporting local arts and local artists, you help yourself grow. Consider sponsoring WE Arts, partner on projects, collaborate in creating new fun events, help animate and connect our neighbourhood. Talk to us, let’s get creative… your ideas and business can make a difference that impacts community and your bottom line.
Donate as a start up society we need staff to support the volunteer efforts and to build continuity, consider a donation, help us grow as we apply for grants and funding that build stability, delivering on all that we collectively envision. Your donation helps… thank you.
Contact us at info@WEArts.ca
November 2017, Our First AGM, as a non-profit membership organization we must hod an annual AGM. Please consider membership and joining us for the AGM. WE Arts welcomes applications for the board and working teams. Contact info@WEArts.ca
September 2017, Tales from the West End continues for the fourth year at JJ Bean on Bidwell Street. Locals share stories from the past, bring yours, or com listen, the 3rd Tuesday each month, a partnership with Heritage Vancouver.
July 2017, Me to We, WE Need This artist video created by local youth featuring West End artists making music with art supplies. Part two with artist statement will follow.
June 2017 the weekly West End Art Market, May through the end of October, 17 weeks featuring local artists and musicians. Be sure to join us and tell your friends. Budding and first tie artists are welcome alongside market pros.
June 2017, our second annual Summer Sounds music event in the Alexandra Park Bandstand. Featuring local musicians, this free event is perfect for a family day out of picnic in the park with friends.
2017, ongoing Arts Advocacy, for community arts and connection spaces throughout the neighbourhood. The West End Pan promised amenities, these may take 10 to 15 years to materialize, residing on “maybe one day” lists in City Hall. We are advocating for expedited process and policy with interim short term incentives to provide these needed promised facilities now in all new approved buildings.
August and September 2016, six week trial Local Weekly Arts Market in the newly opened Jim Deva Plaza (Davie & Bute Streets). This new weekly arts market, is the number one priority from the Art Plan, designed to showcase and sell art by local artists and artisans, expected to grow into a weekly summer long, and eventually year round arts event.
June 2016, Car Free Day on Denman St, WE Arts brings artists to the street to connect with the public, and to Launch our WE Arts Fundraising Campaign enabling our 2016 priorities, to hire staff, complete the 3 to 5 year strategic action plan, and upgrade WEArts.ca website, creating a membership organization, artist directory and easy relevant clear and effective communications.
January 2016, WE Arts Society is created, legally registered as a member organization. It’s official, we can now apply for grants, accept donations and operate with staff.
November 2014 to May 2015, the West End Community Art Plan is created with 3 community workshops lead by Judith Marcuse (SFU & Art for Social Change), resulting in our guiding vision document, A Vision for Arts & Culture in Vancouver’s West End (more details below and link to full pdf report on our home page).
August 2014, our first Pop-up Art Gallery in the Time Square Suites vacant flower shop, 22 artists, 284 folks for a sell out opening night, live music and 800 visitors over the course of one week. Local love to explore art and the neighbourhood, we’d love to hold more of these on a regular basis, invite us to animate your vacant spaces.
June 2014, What A Ride mural by Steve Hornung the Creative Individual launched the Art Plan and our new website WEArts.ca also celebrates 100 years of King George Secondary school. Best viewed from the entrance to the West End Community Centre on Denman St.
May 2014, Artist Meet and Greet, kindly sponsored by Westbank in their VancouverHouse showroom, such an inspiring project and space for 107 local arts to meet each other. Thank you for this wonderful connection where ideas and possibilities intertwined.
January 2014, WE Arts is formed as a group of local artists meeting on the second Monday each month at Gordon Neighbourhood House to explore possibilities for the arts in the West End.
The Early Years, 2013 to 2016, Vancouver Foundation small grants, local West End Business Improvement Association, and Gordon Neighbourhood House enables a few key arts events, bringing community together with: Youth Art Jam, Music Jams at Car Free Day and in the Park, EL Wire Workshops, HATCH Art Magazine, Community Murals, Art Space applications etc. Some of these may be revived and continued once staff and stable funding are secured.
Spring and Summer 2013, The beginning, Satomi Hirano attended a public information session for the West End Plan asking “what about arts & culture?”. Soon after, Youth Art Jam saw neighbourhood youth articulate their vision for the future in art at a guided workshop and on the street during Car Free Day on Denman St. Followed by the Arts Open House in June, which allowed 50 artistic members of our community to identify key priorities for the neighbourhood, listed below. Both events contributed to the West End Plan offering community articulated needs. The Art Jam artwork is featured on the cover of the West of the West Plan.
A Vision for Arts & Culture in Vancouver’s West End
The West End Art Plan was published June 2015, following three community workshops and input from over 300 members of the public and numerous local arts and community groups. A Vision for Local Arts and Culture in Vancouver’s West End (June 2015 by Judith Marcuse) is available for download. This plan was shared with City of Vancouver Mayor, Council and staff on July 22 2015, in support of the new Jim Deva Plaza at Davie & Bute.
This Art Plan process was funded by CNAD Grant from the City of Vancouver Cultural Services office, resulting in the key recommendations below as well as these important landmarks:
- WEArts.ca website
- “What a Ride” community mural by Steve Hornung on the King George High School wall opposite the entrance to the West End Community Centre
- 3 Public Workshops, 7 working committees and
Top 7 Art Plan Recommendations: (3 short term/within 3 years, 4 long term/within 8 years)
- Plan & deliver a weekly West End Arts Market
- Create flexible, multi-use art spaces in the West End
- Establish WE Arts (with paid staff) as a central hub to advance and manage elements of this plan, including strategic partnerships, communications, fundraising and advocacy
- Create and integrate multi-use arts spaces as part of the redevelopment of the West End, financed through a variety of development bonusing and other funding mechanisms. The redevelopment of the West End Community Centre is of primary interest.
- Plan and develop a 250 to 300 seat theatre space including rehearsal and workshop space.
- Develop laneway amenities, including makers lab, live/work and retail space
- Create an annual West End Arts Festival
2013 Arts Open House
Funded by the Vancouver Foundation in response to City of Vancouver West End Community Plan, Public Information Sessions, this Open House was designed to gather community input for the West End Plan, articulating our collective community arts needs and vision.
These 6 priorities below were established in June 2013 feeding both the West End Plan or more in depth Art Plan Vision process that echoes these needs in more detail… together we can bring this vision to life.
Thank you… please join us… connect… share your heart… share your art…
Top 6 Local Arts Priorities, from June 2013 Arts Open House:
- Physical Arts Centre and Venue(s)
- Public Art Displays in the West End
- Arts Festivals
- Artist Connection System (Website, Registry, Magazine)
- Temporary pop-up galleries in businesses, vacant spaces, community spaces indoors/outdoors, parks
- The need for affordable spaces to create and make public artistic production – from studios and rehearsal venues to live/work/rent spaces.
Prior to the Art Plan
A small committed group of local arts enthusiasts worked together to begin dialogue and action with City of Vancouver city planners and cultural planners, local arts groups, artists, residents, the West End BIA (business improvement association representing local business & landlords), Gordon Neighbourhood House and many local residents.
With the aid of community small grants from the Vancouver Foundation a few local heart felt events have been created, along with forums to gather community opinion, in the hope of shaping policy and support for local arts in our artistic neighbourhood. These include:
- Youth Art Jam
- Music Art Jams (Car Free Day events, Music in the Park & more)
- Pop-Up Local Art Gallery (in vacant retail space)
- Arts Open House
- EL Wire Workshops
- HATCH Art Magazine
- Community Murals
We are most grateful to all the above mentioned for their vision and support in moving this important arts conversation forward. Equally respect and gratitude goes to the many volunteer hours of our working board and teams of kind hearted individuals, all committed visionary members of our West End community.
How do we now accelerate the process… and deliver on this opportunity… we need your help…
Most Artful Neighbourhood
According to census data Vancouver’s West End is the most artful neighbourhood in Vancouver. Sadly with limited to few (no) available and affordable gathering spaces to create or sell art, local artists often practice in other neighbourhoods. Of our 45,000 residents from Georgia St and Burrard St to English Bay and Stanley Park, over 10% are employed in the arts sector, with many more hobby artists and hidden talents amongst us.
How do we best provide for our talented expressed neighbours.
How do we bring community together to share our vast and varied vibrant cultures.
Our core focus has been to develop a vision, to connect and support the artistic community, that will unfold and blossom over several years. This began with a Community Arts Plan, a framework with recommendations to realise these aims.
We are intent on providing a vibrant arts experience throughout our neighbourhood, in the physical presence of events, through the creation of economic opportunities for artists, and through an effective central website for the arts in the West End.
Contact WE Arts: info@WEArts.ca