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Keeping Vancouver Creative: Empowering Artists at VPL 

Keeping Vancouver Creative: Empowering Artists at VPL 

In the Heart of a Creative City: 

Larissa, a sculptor and artist, found herself facing a dilemma all too familiar to her fellow artists. In a city where housing prices have soared and creative spaces have become increasingly scarce, many artists have been forced to leave Vancouver. For new talent looking to break into the city’s vibrant arts community, the challenge of finding both a place to live and create can be especially daunting.  

However, for Larissa, a workshop at the Vancouver Public Library opened up a world of creative possibilities and she sees the Library offering a lifeline to artists navigating this challenging landscape. 

Larissa’s Journey:

Larissa’s journey began when she decided to take a Citizen Journalism workshop hosted by the Vancouver Public Library’s Inspiration Lab, which opened in 2015 thanks to the generous support of donors. Drawn to learning new skills and exploring fresh avenues of self-expression, Larissa sought a creative outlet that didn’t demand the physical space her sculpting work required.

In her quest to share her perspective as a biracial artist through more performance-based mediums, she gravitated towards storytelling through new platforms like podcasting, stand-up comedy, and music.

Empowerment through Resources:

The Citizen Journalism workshops not only expanded Larissa’s artistic repertoire but also introduced her to the wide array of resources available at the Lab. She quickly became comfortable with the equipment and gained confidence in her abilities. What she acquired from these workshops was not just a new set of skills but a renewed sense of empowerment. Armed with these skills, she set out to tell captivating stories through various creative channels.

Delving into stand-up comedy and music, Larissa pushed the boundaries of her introverted tendencies. She chuckled, saying, “I feel unnatural trying to perform! In my most natural state, I am a pure introvert cozied up in my recliner, admiring my plants and sipping my tea.” Thanks to improv classes and free workshops offered by the Library, she discovered new channels of self-expression and a bravery that she never knew existed.

More Than a Personal Journey:

Larissa’s story extends far beyond her personal experiences. It’s a testament to the power of public resources, especially for artists grappling with Vancouver’s housing crisis. Larissa herself has watched with sadness as many of her peers were priced out of the city due to exorbitant rents.

She believes that the Library and the community together have a crucial role in preserving Vancouver’s creative community. She sees it as a problem that can be addressed through collective action and institutions like the Library, which provide a wealth of communal resources. Larissa emphasized, “I think of it as what can WE do? What can your family, neighborhood, and community do? We need to work in solidarity with each other so that all of us can benefit from this communal wealth at the Library.”

The Power of Community:

Larissa stresses the importance of strong communities where everyone has more options and the chance to feel a sense of place. The Library offers artists like Larissa a refuge—a safe, welcoming space where they can be inspired, create, connect, and thrive.

As Larissa sees it, the Vancouver Public Library is part of a national movement where Libraries stand alongside artists, offering invaluable resources. She herself has benefited from drawing tablets, recording studios, editing software, and free, accessible spaces. This access is more than just a convenience; it’s a lifeline for artists struggling to find their footing in a city that often seems determined to price them out.

“We need each other,” Larissa mused. It’s a call for solidarity, an acknowledgment that communal resources, like those provided by the Library, should be accessible to all. In a world where opportunities can sometimes feel scarce, the Library stands as a beacon of hope—a place where artists like Larissa can help keep Vancouver’s artistic community alive and thriving.

You can keep Vancouver creative, make a gift to our artistic community today.