I must admit to being impressed with Bing Thom’s group’s creative vision for an underground concert hall below the Vancouver Art Gallery, but this is an irresponsible, indulgent waste of money.
[Bing Thom] architect was asked for a ballpark figure on costs for the project, which would be finished by 2017.
“I think the number that’s been talked about in today’s dollars is $200 million, $220 million, plus or minus, but we’re talking about something that’s going to be seven years from now,” he said.
Anyone who has any knowledge of Vancouver’s and BC’s art community knows that it has been under assault by the provincial government. Subsidizing art is critical for a culture and the evolution of society.
And the BC government has robbed hundreds of millions of dollars of funding from health authorities and the public education system, while spending half a billion dollars on the roof for BC Place Stadium that can’t even move when it rains. Clearly, priorities are uncalibrated, to say the least.
We definitely need more funding for the arts, especially arts infrastructure, but hundreds of millions of dollars for this creative, but extravagant dream concept is just not prudent when important social services are suffering.
We can build better art infrastructure for a fraction of this cost and still be responsible with our money. So even though this project is still so new that it needs to go to a feasibility study, let’s make sure our municipal politicians know that there are more effective ways of spending public money that can support the arts and protect our vulnerable citizens.
And I think I’ll leave the last word to Bing Thom, who last month criticized the mega-casino corporate welfare concept to be attached to BC Place Stadium, because his words apply to his own art gallery concept:
“Vancouver can’t forever be seen to be playing to its tourism angle,” Thom said. “We’re forgetting that we have a city here, we have citizens that don’t want Vancouver to be a bigger version of Whistler. That’s been some of the argument for why we would have a casino—we’ll get a lot more tourist dollars.…We’re becoming a retirement and a tourist city, and that is not what I would like Vancouver to become. And the casino is just playing into that.”