Friday, September 30, 2011

An art scene in Langley?

I had a chat with a friend of mine that works in theatre about what it would take to help Langley get a theatre community. She used to live in Langley, but moved to Vancouver because that is where all the action is today. She basically told me that we require three things: space, space, and space.

Most artists, and those that support them, don’t make buck loads of money. They need affordable, accessible accommodation. You also need theatre space both small and large. Finally you need to have a place, like a pub, that is close to the theatre where the artist can unwind. Place all these spaces close together, and you got yourself a nice little theatre district.

The big question is what area would lend itself to such a district? The City of Langley has lots of affordable accommodation and brownfield land that is ready for deployment. All it would take it a theatre and the City would be set to go. On the other hand, the Township of Langley could do something around the Events Centre and plan for a mixed-use, affordable neighbourhood. They could provide subsidized house for arts community along with market-value housing. It would be a real draw for the Township as the creative types would flock to this neighbourhood...

1 comment:

Jordan Bateman said...

Nice in theory, but there are some flaws in this idea.

The most significant issue is that the existing arts spaces, limited as they are, are not being used to capacity in Langley. It's not like the Chief Sepass Theatre, Kwantlen auditorium, Langley Players theatre, Rose Geller Hall, Centennial Museum, various coffee shops, galleries, and others are booked solid. There's no overflow into rooms like LEC or even the Fraser River Presentation Theatre (inadequate as they may be).

Governments can't afford the "build-it-and-they-will-come" philosophy any more. For more arts spaces to come on stream, the Langley arts community needs to prove that the existing spaces are overbooked.

Further, most arts communities grow out of an existing neighbourhood--taking over cheap, rundown spaces and making them beautiful. To purpose-build such a community would be antithetical to the usual arts movements. Like claiming Disneyland's Main Street USA is "heritage."