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. To accomplish this we need staff and funding to enable regular events and effective dialogue.

June 18 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 us to hire staff, complete the 3 to 5 year strategic action plan, and upgrade WEArts.ca website to enable our membership organization and easy relevant clear communication.

January 2016, WE Arts Society is legally registered as a member organization. It’s official, we can now apply for grants, accept donations and operate with staff.

Summer 2016, the new Weekly Arts Market, as the number one priority from the Art Plan, tested one summer weekend in 2015 and due to open in the new Jim Deva Plaza at the end of July, early August (Davie & Bute). This market will showcase and sell art by local artists and artisans and is anticipated to grow into a weekly summer long, and eventually year round arts event.

June 2015, The West End Art Plan was published following 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

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…

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.

We invite your participation and exploration of the creative experience, 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 will also celebrate the 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, or drop us an email at info@WEArts.ca

Artists 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.

Volunteers we need your help at events, to plan and set up events, and on working teams to support the work and mission of WE Arts…

Landlords with Venues, empty retail retail space, gathering spaces, or your wall so we can paint more beautiful murals…

The Public at Large register with WE Arts, become a member, sign up for the newsletter, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, get involved, every little bit helps… share our events, come out to enjoy and support the arts, get involved, share your own art too…

Local Business support local arts and local artists, sponsor WE Arts, collaborate in creating new fun events, help animate and connect our neighbourhood. Talk to us, let’s get creative…

Donate as a start up society we need staff to support the volunteer efforts and to build continuity, apply for grants and funding to produce all that we collectively envision. Your donation helps…

Our collective community arts needs and vision seem clear. These 6 priorities below were established in June 2013 at a VF Small Grants funded open house for West Enders, the more recent Art Plan 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:

  1. Physical Arts Centre and Venue(s)
  2. Public Art Displays in the West End
  3. Arts Festivals
  4. Artist Connection System (Website, Registry, Magazine)
  5. Temporary pop-up galleries in businesses, vacant spaces, community spaces indoors/outdoors, parks
  6. The need for affordable spaces to create and make public artistic production – from studios and rehearsal venues to live/work/rent spaces.

 

Contact WE Arts: info@WEArts.ca