A Place in Vancouver Theatre History

The York Theatre holds a significant place in the history of Vancouver theatre. It is the only purpose built theatre with fly tower and proscenium stage on the east side of the city and one of only two or three such theatres left in Vancouver. The York Theatre seats approximately 500 people and, according to a survey conducted by the Coal Harbour Arts Complex Society, there are 915 potential uses annually of a theatre in this size range.

The Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance wishes to express its strongest possible support for a civic initiative to help preserve and revitalize this precious and historic cultural facility.

At a time when public attention is on the significant lack of performing arts resources, the loss of this venue would be a crisis of vision and leadership. Having a theatre like the York destroyed through civic inaction in any cosmopolitan city would be just cause for dismay. That it could well happen here in Vancouver is deeply unsettling.

We urge Council to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the preservation of this theatre. We understand the Save the York Theatre Society will be presenting a comprehensive business plan for the restoration and re-development of the theatre. We further understand that time is of the essence and ask that any move toward demolition be delayed or halted.

We would like to confirm that there is strong support from the theatre community for the preservation of the York Theatre. We greatly appreciate the city’s initiative in launching a study on cultural facilities in 07/08. We also appreciate and thank the city for its efforts in broadly consulting the community in this process. However, while the city conducts this important work of thoroughly assessing the present and future needs for arts facilities of all types, we also encourage Council to act quickly in this particular set of circumstances to help preserve the York Theatre before it is torn down.

We think it would be a great shame if Vancouver loses one if its landmark theatres, a venue which represents a significant part of Vancouver’s cultural history.

Tanja Dixon Warren, President
Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance
January 10, 2008