The City of Vancouver now has new tenants within the former location of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  The Arts Umbrella officially opened its new space located on Granville Island, the reclaimed industrial space along the waterfront that is now the home of parks, boutique shops, and open-air markets.  This month’s Art World looks at the move, and what it means for young artists within Vancouver.

Arts Umbrella is a private not-for-profit arts center founded by Carol Henriquez and Gloria Schwartz in 1979.  The facility seeks to inspire creativity in young artists, and give them access to art, particularly in the age group of 2-22.  The hope is that these artists will continue creating and contributing to the art world as they move into adulthood.  What began with just 45 children has grown to serve 24,000 students annually in a range of disciplines, with the majority of students (80%) participating at minimal to no cost.

Arts Umbrella now provides programs within Art, Design, Dance, Theatre, Music, and Film.  Over 250 arts educators and staff have been involved with more than 600,000 young people over the past 42 years.

Originally located within a converted 1930s nail factory, Arts Umbrella has been a staple of the Granville community since the very beginning.  They have been steadily outgrowing the space over the past nearly four decades, and this month opened their doors at the new facility.

The New Facility

The new facility is a $27 million, 50,000 square-foot hub for these young artists, and it is more than double the size of the previously converted factory.  It includes a 132-seat theatre, ten studios, and dance rehearsal space.  There is also a workshop for woodworking, stagecraft, and general fabrication.

(Pictured above) Sneak peak of the 3rd floor of the new Arts Umbrella Facility in Vancouver @ Arts Umbrella

The building was designed by Patkau Architects in 1995 and modified by award-winning architect Richard Henriquez to suit Arts Umbrella’s requirements.

This new facility means that even more children and youth will be able to take advantage of Arts Umbrella’s low-cost programs, inspiring future generations to learn from and pursue art.  Arts Umbrella also provides bursaries and scholarships.

Arts Umbrella has nearly reached its fundraising goal of $37-million to help pay for space and set up endowment funds for young artists.  Information on the efforts and the building itself can be found at

In a statement, Henriquez gives her vision for the facility:  “The hope for our world is in these young children who come to us because they will make the future good and wonderful… That’s what it is all about.”