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

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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?

Website: www.savethehollywoodtheatre.com
Document: Reinventing the Hollywood (PDF)
Contacts: Steve Edge: steveedge3@mac.com 604-358-6379
Adam Abrams: adamabrams@shaw.ca 604-685-7634

Hollywood Theatre remains threatened

Thursday, May 8, 2014: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Church purchase leaves theatre heritage at risk; City ownership still the best option


The Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition, that has led a public campaign to protect the theatre, is concerned that the Point Grey Community Church plan for the Hollywood would neither secure the theatre’s heritage nor realize its fullest potential as a public arts and culture venue.

The community advocates for:

  1. full heritage designation of the Hollywood Theatre exterior, interior and theatre use;
  2. having a community-based, arms-length group responsible for overseeing programming of the theatre through a community-use agreement; and
  3. ensuring any bonus density or other incentives granted result both in heritage protection and flexible community use in perpetuity.

The Church has not indicated their proposal includes these basic requirements for community support.

The Coalition’s plan has been outlined in our document “Reinventing the Hollywood“. This outlines the option to revitalize the Hollywood as a vibrant arts and cultural centre that the City could acquire at a reasonable cost. It would be operated as a self-supporting non-profit society in the model of Kitsilano ‘s St. James Community Square which has operated independently for 20 years as a community cultural venue.

St. James and arts organizations across the city have expressed support for the Coalition’s vision to save the Hollywood. Heritage Vancouver Society has very strongly supported full heritage designation of the Hollywood exterior, interior and theatre use.

Steve Edge, who has been Artistic Director of the Rogue Folk Club for 27 years, said “Vancouver has very little in mid-sized performance venues between 400 and 1,000 seats. The Hollywood would fill this niche with an affordable 500 – 600 seat venue for community arts groups, theatres, and concert presenters that is much needed.”

The Coalition also has an extensive business plan that outlines how this can be accomplished which is soon to be released.

For further information on this issue, please see this background document.