OUR Spaces has spent a great deal of time over the past few months articulating the project we envision for Vancouver. We hope hope you’ll take a moment to read through OUR vision and provide feedback using our contact form.
WHAT IS “OUR SPACES”?
Our Spaces was started by a community action to address the need for space in Vancouver’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Intersex, Queer and Allied community (GLBTIQ). The community expressed interest in developing a centre that houses many of the services available (or desired to be available) to the GLBTIQ community in one central location. That space should include a community gathering space as well as a place to house GLBTIQ social, health, educational, cultural and recreational services and activities. Our Spaces was therefore established as a registered non-profit society in British Columbia with the goal to create such a stable environment for non-profits supportive of the queer community to foster, grow and share resources.
The community has expressed an interest in maintaining GLBTIQ organizations based in the Westend area of Vancouver. Our goal is therefore to create a primary location in the Westend, while reserving the option of purchasing or leasing spaces to serve our community’s members living in other regions.
WHAT WOULD THE SPACE LOOK LIKE?
The facility itself could be a modified existing structure, a new standalone structure, or a space within a new development that includes other amenities. The organizations based in the center will be autonomous, conducting their own affairs, while Our Spaces acts as a non-profit landlord and shared space administrator.
The shared spaces will allow for a range of activities such as art shows, theatrical performances, classes, galas, bazaars and weddings and should include a meeting place, a coffee shop and library to encourage social inclusion. Other areas would hold a workspace for arts, cultural, health and social service organizations. Finally, there would be meeting space to hold classes, meetings, conferences, and other functions.
WHY NOT USE EXISTING FACILITIES?
While there are other organizations in Vancouver that offer a variety of services, there is no existing facility which seeks to bring together a diversity of queer-friendly organizations serving the entire GLBTIQ community in a central location, creating a safe and supportive setting for all members of our community to interact, socialize and promote their services and activities. Having our resources spread out often acts as a barrier to collaboration and coordination.
There are other advantages of the shared space model. Service providers are often subject to leased facilities that overbook and have rigid pricing schemes. Some individuals, groups or organizations which could provide worthwhile services to the community presently struggle to exist at all, due to the fact that they have no affordable space to carry out their activities. Having a non-profit landlord shelters organizations from market rent fluctuations, allowing for stable operating costs and more funds to be allocated for the delivery of much needed services to the community.
Non profits will be able to rent private office space to meet their needs while sharing meeting rooms, workspace, studio space, washrooms, break-rooms, storage space, office equipment and reception services should they so choose.
WOULD OUR SPACE BENEFIT THE WHOLE VANCOUVER COMMUNITY?
A shared space to promote, create and display our community’s arts and cultural contribution is crucial for the sustainability of our unique identity. A place for smaller and independent groups to develop, rehearse and showcase their work helps them foster and share their ideas. It allows our greater community to enjoy and reflect on the works created. while encouraging dialogue for future development. Spaces that are suitable for drama, dance, visual arts and music provide great opportunity for the GLBTIQ community, both as queer with multiple identities and Vancouverites, to grow and examine itself and discover our places in the Canadian mosaic. It is hoped that this model will even provide space to meet the needs of some nonprofit individuals and organizations free of charge, to allow them to exist, create and foster their artistic, cultural, educational, social and health pursuits, which will be of benefit to the greater community. Lastly, the Our Spaces facility will provide a venue to showcase our talents and creativity to Vancouver and visitors, creating another attraction to our great city.