The York Theatre is the last remaining purpose built building for legitimate theatre in the City and was the home of Vancouver Little Theatre for many years. The theatre was recently purchased by a developer who has plans to demolish the theatre and build a townhouse complex.
Proposed street front of the restored York Theatre – Downs-Archambault design 1982
A History and Vision for the York Theatre has been created by the Save the York Theatre Society. The Forum on the Future of Theatres reflected the community’s concerns about our last remaining opportunities to preserve and restore our heritage theatres. The need for theatre space in Vancouver is clear. The Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance confirms there is strong support from the theatre community. The City’s report on the Coal Theatre Arts Complex concluded there is a shortage of performance venues in the City. And the Vancouver East Cultural Centre indicated it could operate the theatre on an interim basis if it was returned to early use and restored fully later.
The Save the York Theatre Society met on December 18th to what consider steps could be taken to save the York. The group had met with representatives of the new owner and people from the City Planning and Cultural Affairs Departments at City Hall on December 6th to learn the developer was open to possibilities.
It will take time to answer the questions related to creating a future for the theatre – who might operate it, – who might use it, – and how its restoration and future operation could be financed.
Time is running out. Since the developers are open to conversation but anxious to move ahead on their project to realize a return on their investment, it was decided the best course of action would be to find someone willing to buy the York Theatre from the new owner and hold it on behalf of the community until these questions could be answered and plans created.
The contribution to the community is clear. The land would provide security for someone willing to do this so the risk of losing any capital invested is low. Financing can be arranged to make costs tax deductible. The community will appreciate the contribution and the opportunity is open to be part of the creative team. It could be an individual, a foundation, a business, a community organization like the Coal Harbour Arts Complex Society, or a cooperative of contributors. The property was purchased by the developer for just under a million dollars.
Save the York Theatre Society