At the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue, the City Center Motel is a relic of fate, a low-floor, sprawling 1950s Vancouver when land was cheap and the developer gold rush wasn’t pushing towers as far as possible. It was a monument. Last year, the motel closed and was bought by Nicola Wealth Real Estate, which manages $11 billion in assets, with the intention of building something big.
Enter an unusual proposal from the Narrow Group in partnership with the Vancouver Mural Festival. Site development was delayed by at least three years. In the meantime, why not turn your 18,000-square-foot motel into over 60 artist studios that you can rent for about $500-$650 a month? , this experiment serves as a temporary gap for dozens of people, perhaps an example of a more permanent solution?
The artist began living in the motel in January. Last month, I visited their studio and interviewed people involved. The result, made for The Tyee, is a nine-minute documentary of her at the top of this piece.
Tyee’s editor asked a few questions about making the video, so I wrote down some thoughts here.
What made the City Center Motel an artist colony?
Long before I picked up a camera or wore a journalist’s hat, I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. So when I learned that City Center Motel and artists were renting space to make art, I was instantly hooked. This project not only transforms a motel into an artist’s space, but also explores what it means to be an artist in an expensive city and how an artist feels supported in a world where art usually doesn’t pay for it. It was a project about what was essential. (And unpaid internships are the norm). I wanted to know how this place came to be, who the artists are, and what the obstacles are for stakeholders.
How was it when you entered that world?
Artists are special and creating art is a gamble. There are no guarantees, it’s a process of trial and error, but it’s a world full of hope. Securing an interview with an artist who can be said to have taken the most time in the production process. I was working on a schedule of artists and they could be all over the place. But when I was there, I felt like we were making this work together. For me, new to the city, this assignment served as a crash course in understanding Vancouver’s arts and culture scene, talking to artists and other sources to reflect on their experiences and histories. rice field.
Is this a model worth supporting in Vancouver or elsewhere?
That’s innovation, right? It seems impossible and crazy until someone gets out there and changes the norm. Models provide a window into possibility. Artists are adaptable, ever-evolving beings, so they don’t worry about temporary availability of space. Such a model can therefore be quite successful for the artist community. We know the problem exists and people have been complaining about it for years.The city admits it, but someone decided to experiment and come up with a solution. did. That’s what I want to report. solution. About what’s working, what’s being done right, and what others can learn from it.
The word “solution” is not the word many people associate with journalism. Some of the people I interviewed asked, “What do you mean by solution story?” Solution journalism is dedicated to reporting on potential alternatives to widely shared problems and needs. The point is not to spin or risk creating false hopes. It is direct reporting on how it is going by collecting and sharing what is happening.
It is not advocacy or brand “journalism,” as they call it these days. Doing solution-focused journalism means critically reporting not just what is working, but what is not working and what is the limit. Only then can citizens make the right decisions about whether to further support such experiments. Only by trying to paint an overall picture of the experiment can the work help the next person trying to do it better.
When people generally agree that there is a problem and are enthusiastic about how to move forward, the time is ripe for a solution story. Vancouver clearly has problems with affordability of rent and availability of space for artists. Motels are far from a perfect solution, but it seemed like a good site to explore what could be done in response.
Why take a video approach to telling this story?
I think it’s easier to show than to say. In fact, I don’t think I could have recreated what I saw with my eyes, neither with words alone nor with pictures. My aim is to draw the audience into the story. Cameras are the closest thing I have experienced to life.
Another thing that I find very exciting and rewarding about shooting a documentary is that there is no script and you never know what questions people will ask you. So when you ask people questions, you can see them discovering themselves and capturing their epiphanies in real time.
what’s next for me?
I started my second year at UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism. I want to improve my technique and develop my investigative skills to make films that tell complex stories, inform and inspire. I am aware of the controversy over arthi washing and gentrification in Vancouver and would like to report on it.
Artist Motel: Inside a Vancouver Experimental Facility
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