Indie theatres weather the liquor license storm

Following months of struggle with British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver will gradually return to the mixed programming it cultivated before 2012. For most of this year, the Rio operated under an imposed liquor licensing condition that prevented the venue from showing films.

Although the single-screen venue expects to make a full recovery, owner Corinne Lea says her company is not out of the woods yet. “Because our finances got depleted so badly, our biggest challenge is just digging ourselves out of the hole,” Lea says. “Now we’re creeping back.”

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Is Vancouver’s public consultation process broken?

In the heat of debate over the Rize development in Mount Pleasant, residents began to question the entire public consultation process. “It is not the developers that are the enemy,” Annabel Vaughan told the council chambers on Tuesday, February 28. “The enemy is the flawed process that the City uses for rezoning large development sites.”

Standing before the developer, city council and a long list of concerned speakers, Vaughan said surrounding residents and businesses should have been more meaningfully consulted before the design process even began. “The current public process brings out the worst in everyone,” she observed. “Developers and architects design projects in isolation and then land ‘spaceships’ into neighbourhoods.”

Artist prOphecy sun keeps a recording studio in her pocket

You might think it takes a lot of equipment to record and edit vocals, instrumental tracks, field recordings and music videos for half a dozen different bands. But for one Vancouver performance artist with a penchant for singing on her bike, all it takes is an iPhone.

Prophecy Sun is a singer, dancer and creator whose curiosity keeps her moving. “For me it comes down to accessibility,” she says of her pocket-sized piece of gear. “First and foremost, it’s so immediate. I don’t have to worry about getting someone else involved, I can just press record and start doing it.”

Homeless count sweeps Vancouver

For a third year in a row, Vancouver’s spring homeless count wrapped up late last night. Volunteers scoured alleyways, parks, shelters and hospitals to gather information about the city’s shifting homeless population.

“We ask where they stayed last night, what their age is, whether they’re with a spouse or child or other relative,” says Judy Graves, co-ordinator of Vancouver’s tenant-assistance program. Graves oversaw Metro Vancouver’s first homeless count in 2002. She says details like income, gender, physical disabilities and illnesses are also collected.

Red Gate petitions to rent city-owned building

Since the Red Gate artist studio was shut down in October 2011, former manager Jim Carrico has been busy looking for another affordable haven for artists.

“I’ve been riding my bike around, putting the word out,” Carrico explains, estimating that he’s researched between 20 and 30 new locations. “The main thing we’re looking for is studio space, rehearsal space, production space—a place where people can afford to make art.”

“Affordable” is not an easy thing to come by in Vancouver, says Carrico, but at 281 Industrial Avenue, the price was just right: $8,500 per month.

Canada’s first robocall rally unites generations and parties with comedy

If the Vikileaks debacle taught us anything about modern scandal in this country, it’s that Canadians enjoy a few laughs with our outrage. Amid the crowd marching from the Vancouver Art Gallery to Victory Square on Saturday March 3rd—a rally calling for a public inquiry into the growing robocall scandal—good-natured Canuck humour was out in full force.

AUDIO: Liquor laws relaxed for the Rio Theatre

At 9:00 a.m. on February 9th, B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman announced that the province will now allow multi-use venues like the Rio to screen films outside liquor license hours.

“The change allows license holders to screen films and broadcast pay-per-view programs outside the hours outlined in their liquor license,” reads part of the press release. “License holders will still not be permitted to serve liquor during the screening of movies.”

Vancouver’s newest record label skips CD format

Vancouver has a tradition of local forward-thinking record labels, from Nettwerk to Mint to Scratch Records. But the latest imprint to launch in this city has a new, untested idea: Sizzle Teen Records will forgo the CD format and focus on vinyl and digital sales exclusively.

“If you look at the big guys in the music industry, from Warner Brothers to HMV, they’re all pretty much failing,” says label founder Richie Fudalewski. “From our experience, CDs are not worth it.”

Vancouver’s “poster mafia” dominates a bizarre racket

Sure, Vancouver’s got a cut-throat real estate industry—we’ve heard that one before. But down below all the empty towers and backroom deals lies an even more mercenary racket: the fight for postering supremacy.

Yes, all those brightly coloured rectangles populating our city’s traffic poles and construction sites are actually pawns in a decades-long battle hidden in plain sight. And the hands-down winner of Vancouver’s visual real estate war, for the last fifteen years at least, has been a group known ominously as “the poster mafia.” Seriously.

Banning bikes on Broadway

What began as an election campaign proposal has since snowballed into a heated online debate. In an October 24 editorial in the Georgia Straight, newly inaugurated Green Party councillor Adriane Carr first suggested “bike-free routes” on Vancouver’s main arteries like Broadway and Hastings.

“I realized in the beginning that I wasn’t specific enough,” says Carr, who is now advocating dedicated bus-only lanes on major roadways—a strategy Carr says was successful during the Olympics. “I’ve been talking to transit drivers who say it worked,” she continues. “The buses moved much more rapidly, and there were more buses on the routes.”

Arts event crawls east

It’s studio-hopping season again. For three days, the Eastside Culture Crawl will see hundreds of local artists open their creative spaces to the public.

Each year the Crawl, which kicks off tomorrow, serves as a snapshot of East Vancouver’s arts community. And while that community continues to find creative ways to thrive, there are a few changes afoot.

UBC study aims to save the world’s dying bees

It’s been blamed on everything from stress to wireless internet, but microbiologists and beekeepers around the world still have a lot to learn when it comes to the decline of honeybee populations.

Ongoing research led by Dr. Leonard Foster at the University of British Columbia will at least offer beekeepers a few new tools for breeding more resilient bees. By identifying “genetic markers” of more hygienic bees, Dr. Foster hopes to save populations from collapse through selection.

Red Gate locks up for good

After a long struggle to meet City demands, the Red Gate artist space on West Hastings Street has been shut down permanently.

Over the last four months, members of the creative hub have laboured to address safety concerns raised by the City of Vancouver. But after failing to submit a full plan for development, the group of filmmakers, painters, musicians and visual artists have been pushed out.

VIFF: Launching local eco-docs

Sitting on a patio across from Mountain Equipment Co-op on Broadway, filmmaker Frank Wolf tells me about how he got into making environmental documentaries.

“I had always done remote wilderness trips around the world,” he says. “I began seeing first-hand how the environment was being degraded.”

Enabled by his day-job at MEC, Wolf has hiked, biked and paddled much of Canada’s wilderness on a shoestring budget. Beginning in 2003, Wolf added lightweight camera gear to the equation, turning his excursions into feature-length films.

Wreckage, a work by Nita Bowerman, battles frigid waters, tide changes, jellyfish, underwater visibility and pollution.

Fringe reclaims Vancouver with site-specific theatre

With the Vancouver International Fringe Festival now in full swing, adventurous theatre-goers have a wealth of weird and exciting staged drama to experience.

But in outdoorsy Vancouver, many performances are abandoning the traditional stage in favour of unexpected locations. Even more than in previous years, the festival’s “Bring Your Own Venue” selection boasts a growing hub of local talent.