There is hope for the Hollywood! But there’s still work to be done!

A development application has been submitted to the City of Vancouver for the Hollywood Theatre and the 100-foot site adjacent to the theatre to the west.

An Open House is being held on…

Thursday, March 15
4:30 to 7:30 pm
St. James Community Square, 3214 West Tenth Avenue

The proposal would see the Hollywood Theatre’s current owner retain the Hollywood Theatre with irrevocable Heritage designation, through a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) and operate it as a for-profit entertainment/cultural venue . The HRA would transfer existing development potential of the Hollywood property to the adjacent lot, together with additional bonus density as an incentive for heritage retention and restoration. The result would be a 6-storey mixed use, commercial/residential (strata) building next door to a revitalized Hollywood Theatre.

Your presence at the Open House is vital!!

Although the handling of a similar proposal in 2016 suggested that the City was seeking to acquire the Hollywood in exchange for bonus density, city staff are clearly taking a different approach to the present proposal and looking for public opinion to inform next steps.

Thus, given your support for the Coalition’s efforts to Save the Hollywood Theatre, we offer the following two questions and related views as a way of summing up the Coalition’s perspectives and concerns, reached on the basis of meetings with project architects and proposed operators, as well as limited discussions with City staff.

Will the currently proposed outcome for the Hollywood result in a vibrant arts and cultural venue that will benefit the community and the city in perpetuity?

We believe that a strong Community Use Agreement (CUA), forming a part of the Development Permit, must include generous commitments to film, non-profit, and community cultural use – in perpetuity – in return for the contemplated density bonus.

An important element in this project, we believe, is a public memory of what the Hollywood was, and should continue to be: a movie theatre. This is not to say that the Hollywood should be only a movie theatre. Indeed, we know all too well that the Hollywood needs to become a more versatile multi-use venue, supporting a wider range of screen and performing arts, to be economically viable and sustainable, and we are fighting for that.

But we also believe strongly that a significant portion of the programming should be dedicated to cinema: at least 35-40%. We think it’s worth noting that the Rio Theatre has operated as an economically viable, self-sustaining business with 60% film programming for 10+ years; a pretty good track record.

Equally important, is a generous commitment to prime-time non-profit and community cultural use; a chance for the community to participate and be part of the Hollywood’s future as a true community amenity. This should be written into this CUA as well.

Last, but surely not least, heritage designation of the building (part of the HRA) should go well beyond its iconic façade, and encompass key elements of the interior theatre space, including sloped floor and seating, as well as original 35 mm projection equipment (with new digital projection technology added). And, finally, we believe that designation should include the Hollywood Theatre’s continued use as a theatre/performance space, in perpetuity.

Is a privately-owned, for-profit business model the best possible outcome for the Hollywood Theatre, and is it the only way to see the Hollywood’s heritage restored and preserved?

The fact, of course, is that the current proposal would, indeed, see the Hollywood’s heritage restored and protected (details to be determined).

As you know, however, the Coalition’s aim has always been for a non-profit, community-oriented outcome that protects the Hollywood’s heritage and addresses the critical shortage of affordable arts and culture capacity on the West Side.

And, while the City is taking a different approach with the current application, its handling of a similar redevelopment proposal in 2016 appeared to confirm that a City-owned, non-profit outcome is, in fact, a realistic option. So, while we acknowledge and appreciate that the present proposal for a for-profit Hollywood Theatre has a lot in common with the Coalition’s plan, we continue to have reservations about the extent to which the proposed for-profit operation could deliver the same cultural capacity as a public, non-profit venue.

Is it enough to guarantee a healthy balance of programming, including regular cinema screenings and prime-time cultural non-profit use, through a solid Community Use Agreement? Perhaps it is. But, the question remains whether public vs private and non-profit vs for-profit should continue to be on the table, and whether the current deal is striking the right balance between development incentives and public benefits.

And, of course, there’s also the shape and scale of the proposed building next door, and the way in which it relates to the Hollywood’s heritage, Broadway streetscape, and adjacent neighbourhood.*

We are continuing to ask questions and encourage you to do the same.

What we know is that the Fairleighs ran the Hollywood Theatre as a successful family business for more than 75 years, and that the community has a wealth of fond memories of it. And, the good news is that the Hollywood’s future looks brighter once again as a result of your support and determination!

So, be sure to come on out to the Open House and HAVE YOUR SAY! – Let the City know what’s important to you!

Thursday, March 15,
4:30 to 7:30 pm
St. James Community Square,
3214 West Tenth Avenue.

Details of the Development Application can be found here.

*For additional issues concerning the adjacent building which forms a large part of this development application, please see this letter sent by the West Kits Residents Association (some of whose members are part of Save The Hollywood Theatre Coalition) to their members. Note in particular points 2, 3 and 4.


An update on the Hollywood

Dear Hollywood Supporters,

Here’s a quick update about recent developments.

Not long after a deal fell through (back in October) with a local developer who grew up in Kits and shares the community’s desire to see the Hollywood’s screen come back to life, we were contacted by an architectural firm that’s now working with the Hollywood’s owner to consult with stakeholders and assess redevelopment options for the theatre and adjacent properties.

The good news is that the Hollywood’s future is potentially looking up. We’ve had a couple encouraging meetings with the architects and continue to advance our vision for the Hollywood’s future as a vibrant community-focused arts and culture hub, featuring the best of cinema, live performance, festivals, and other public events. We’re aiming to meet with the City’s Cultural Planning group in coming days.

Stay tuned,
Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition

Our letter to City Hall re: St. James Community Square

st james.jpg
The Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition welcomes recent news of the City’s decision to step in and rescue St James Community Square from threat of closure.  St James is an essential community resource and one of the only live-performance venues remaining on the local scene.  The Coalition looks forward to continuing collaboration with the St James, where hundreds turned out in November, 2013 to launch our ongoing campaign to Save the Hollywood Theatre.

Read our letter to Vancouver Mayor and City Council below.  (Or view as a PDF file.)


17 February, 2016

Mayor and Council
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Ave.
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4


Dear Mayor and Council,

We are writing to express our strong support for the City’s decision to acquire St. James Square, an essential community resource and one of the few live-performance venues remaining on the local scene. As you may know, the Coalition has benefited tremendously through advice and support offered by the St. James staff and management in our ongoing efforts to preserve and reinvent the Hollywood Theatre as a landmark arts and culture venue. Indeed, hundreds packed St. James Square in November 2013 to launch our ongoing campaign to save the Hollywood Theatre.

Consequently, we are very pleased to know that the St. James will continue to be a key partner and advocate for the Hollywood’s preservation. And, to that end, we are simultaneously encouraged to know that the City is continuing to invest in public arts and culture capacity.

Regrettably, however, as much as sustainability for St. James avoids the west side’s further decline into cultural poverty, it fails to address the prevailing capacity deficit west of Granville.

Once again, we encourage the City to recognize the unique opportunity offered by the Hollywood to establish a broader and evolving arts and culture presence on West Broadway. The Hollywood is perfectly positioned and ideally suited to provide the critical mass required to see West Broadway become a vibrant and self-sustaining focus of creative expression and artistic enterprise.

We look forward to re-engaging with our elected representatives and city staff to exchange updates on the Hollywood and explore opportunities to build on recent good news at St. James Community Square.

Yours sincerely,

Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition

Memo from Brian Jackson discusses Coalition’s efforts to save Hollywood

Brian Jackson, the city’s general manager of planning, recently released a memo to Vancouver city council outlining the status of the Hollywood Theatre and St. James Community Square. In it he reiterates the responses to our questions for clarification on a variety of points.

You can read the memo here.

The Projection Project presents their new documentary short on the Hollywood Theatre on Saturday!


We invite all supporters of the Hollywood Theatre to attend the big-screen premiere on Saturday, November 1 of The Hollywood – Till We Meet Again. It’s the finale of the “Hollywood Trilogy”, produced by Curtis Emde and Silmara Albi’s (aka “The Projection Project”).

It will be shown at Vancouver’s noted art house cinema, The Cinematheque, on Saturday November 1st (doors opening at 2pm). The movie will be screened alongside the artwork of projectionist Al Reid and a couple of other surprise film shorts.

Hosted by local film history professor and movie critic Michael van den Bos and featuring some fabulous door prizes, this is one matinee not to be missed.

Saturday, November 1st – doors open at 2pm
1131 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2L7
Admission by donation

An important new petition to help save the Hollywood!

Since this all began, there have been two previous petitions – and both were instrumental in showing support for the Hollywood. The message and the goal has evolved, and now we have created a new and timely petition to let Mayor Gregor Robertson and council know that Vancouver supports the City’s acquisition of the Hollywood and its subsequent operation by a community-based nonprofit. This is the one best way to ensure that a reinvented, revitalized Hollywood Theatre is a part of Vancouver’s neighbourhood and cultural landscape for years to come!

Please sign the petition and share it with your friends, and encourage them to do the same. It WILL make a difference! Thanks for your support!

(For details on why acquisition of the Hollywood by the City is the best way forward, see our recently published business plan, Reinventing the Hollywood.)

Coalition releases comprehensive business plan for reinventing the Hollywood Theatre – time to put the Hollywood back on the map!

[Friday, June 20, 2014] The Save the Hollywood Coalition has released a comprehensive plan to reinvent the Hollywood Theatre as a heritage-designated, public arts and culture venue. The business plan, presented to the City’s General Manager of Community Services, Brenda Prosken, provides a detailed accounting of the Coalition’s vision for acquisition, renewal and operation of the Hollywood in the context of Vancouver’s broader arts and culture landscape and relevant City policy.

Map-NewRecommendations by Vancouver’s Creative City Task Force led to the City’s adoption of a new Culture Plan for Vancouver 2008 – 2018 that seeks to “increase public participation and community engagement in arts and culture” by “promoting local arts and culture” and by “improving arts access for new and under-served communities”.

At this very moment the City is updating its register of cultural spaces through an interactive, on-line mapping project and results unfortunately confirm what locals already know; that there’s a significant lack of cultural capacity on Vancouver’s westside. The iconic Ridge Theatre and the Cellar Jazz Club are only the latest casualties, and not because these cultural enterprises weren’t successful, but rather because they were simply swept aside in the wake of Vancouver’s surging property market.

City Hall is well aware of this dilemma. At a recent forum organized by Vision Vancouver, titled “Protecting Vancouver’s Cultural Spaces: Preserving Culture In A Growing City”, Councilor Heather Deal was perfectly honest in admitting that “the City could do a lot better” and the Coalition agrees. In fact, thanks to an amendment put forward by Councilor Deal in November of last year, the City’s Heritage Action Plan was adopted with specific direction to “assist community objectives for heritage preservation” with respect to the Hollywood Theatre.

So, why is the City sitting on the fence and keeping the Coalition on the sidelines as negotiations between the Hollywood’s owner and the Point Grey Community Church appear to be headed for an outcome that will neither protect the Hollywood’s heritage nor realize its fullest potential as an arts and culture venue for the broader community?

The Coalition’s recent request for a status update and meeting was met with the following response from Brian Jackson, the City’s General Manager of Planning and Development:

“We have nothing new to report since our last correspondence on this issue. My understanding is that negotiations between a willing seller and willing purchaser are continuing. As I mentioned during our meeting, if you have someone who is interested in purchasing the Hollywood Theatre, they should contact (the owner) as soon as possible. I do not think it would be productive to have a meeting with city staff until this has occurred.”

What’s clear is that City Hall does not want to own the Hollywood. What’s not clear is why.

There is surely no shortage of precedents to confirm the stability and value of city-owned cultural spaces, now numbering more than 50 and with the majority operated by non-profit arts and culture organizations. As secure public assets and with the benefit of favourable leases and property tax exemption, these city-owned cultural spaces are uniquely viable and offer unmatched long-term stability in the context of Vancouver’s soaring property market. There is simply no evidence to suggest that any other model is capable of delivering similar public-use capacity.

The Coalition is confident that a city-owned outcome is achievable for the Hollywood and that it is the only outcome that will enable the theatre to realize its fullest potential. By transferring buildable density from the Hollywood site to the owner’s adjacent property, and by waiving related development fees (DCLs), the residual value of the Hollywood can be dramatically reduced and potentially written off. Far from unaffordable, the Hollywood represents a unique opportunity to establish a landmark arts and culture venue for a tiny fraction of its value. Failure to seize the moment would deprive the City and its taxpayers of a very attractive investment.

Extensive market research and consultation with arts and culture organizations across Vancouver has confirmed strong demand for additional media/screen and live presentation space and the Hollywood is uniquely suited to supply both. Conservative budget figures presented in the Coalition’s plan demonstrate the Hollywood’s potential to be a fiscally sustainable enterprise while contributing very productively to Vancouver’s cultural capacity. Strategically located on the Broadway Corridor and in the heart of Kitsilano, the Hollywood is perfectly positioned to entertain and inspire an under-served public that is destined to grow.

It’s time to put the Hollywood back on the map! From Creative City to Engaged City the Coalition’s plan to Reinvent the Hollywood is perfectly aligned with a broad array of progressive city policy. Dig in. Read all about it.

Why is City Hall avoiding the Hollywood’s brightest future?

Document: Reinventing the Hollywood (PDF)
Contacts: Steve Edge: 604-358-6379
Adam Abrams: 604-685-7634