While Vancouver has a lively art scene, it can feel inaccessible for some people. By creating a safe, inclusive local art space, marginalized Vancouver residents now have more access than ever to emerging creative technologies.
Bill Reid Gallery, Community Arts Council of Vancouver, Contemporary Art Gallery, Gallery Gachet, Ho Sun Hing Project, Vancouver Letterpress League
3D printing and “maker culture” has been likened to the next industrial revolution. To provide equal access to artistic and economic opportunities, it is important that the latest creative technologies are accessible to everyone, and not just those in privileged educational institutions or costly members-only labs.
Marginalized Vancouver residents in the Downtown East Side (DTES) have not had access to devices such as a 3D printer, industrial sewing machine, or a letterpress. Artist studios exist, but tend to be prohibitively expensive and located in settings that are unwelcoming to many individuals.
In response to the exclusive nature of the local art scene, WePress is creating a safe, inclusive community space that gives low-income Vancouver residents more opportunities for artistic development.
Providing space, workshops, exhibitions, and retail opportunities
Located in Chinatown’s Sun Wah Centre, the WePress space contains numerous creative technologies and artistic opportunities.
artists who were alienated from mainstream art circles are beginning to enjoy a greater sense of community, with increasing visibility and income for their works
Over 23 workshops and counting enable local artists to hone their skills in 3D printing, letterpress, bookbinding, knitting, and even Japanese calligraphy. In addition to providing the venue, WePress also hosts meetings for local artists, major events such as feature exhibitions, and serves as a retail location where local artists can put their works up for sale.
Through skill building and working together, artists who were alienated from mainstream art circles are beginning to enjoy a greater sense of community, with increasing visibility and income for their works. As a result, WePress is not only enhancing the livelihood and output of local artists, it is also promoting a healthier, more diverse exchange of artistic perspectives within the city.
Building a self-sustaining artistic community
WePress is becoming recognized as an important community-builder in the DTES, expanding partnerships to include many new community-based organizations, as well as larger artistic organizations such as the Contemporary Art Gallery, and the Bill Reid Gallery.
As WePress continues to build the capacity to identify local artists, recruit and train volunteers, and develop effective promotion and fundraising strategies, they are developing a strong foundation to sustain and expand their efforts to ensure that all populations have a voice in Vancouver’s art community.