The York Theatre renovation is the result of a decades long struggle to save the historic community theatre from demolition.
Originally built in 1913 as the Alcazar Theatre, the building changed identities numerous times over its 100-year history and hosted everything from live theatre, to punk rock concerts to Bollywood movie screenings.
In 2007, the theatre was slated to be torn down and redeveloped as townhouses, however a feasibility study conducted by the team at Henriquez Partners, in collaboration with Jim Green & Associates, demonstrated the viability of reinvesting in the theatre and the City of Vancouver added financial backing to enable a rehabilitation to proceed.
The project to revive the York Theatre involved fully restoring the entry to match the 1940 art deco façade, renovating the theatre to again serve as a performance venue, and adding a new, modern lobby.
The performance space features 365 seats, traditional proscenium arch, a balcony and orchestra pit. Noted Christopher Gaze, (artistic director of Bard on the Beach), while touring the renovated facility: “the acoustics are excellent”.
The intention of the expanse of glass featured in the new lobby design is to make the theatre feel open and accessible for people in the community, and to animate the street life on Commercial Drive. The red tile, adorning the lobby exterior and sourced from a local BC company, frames the crowd of theatregoers within and serves as a metaphor for the real performances unfolding inside, (the audience becomes the actors).
The restored theatre is now operated by the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (CULTCH) and is expected to enhance the community’s identity as a cultural hub. On the eve of the theatre’s reopening, The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, stated “this 100-year-old historical gem will undoubtedly solidify the local area as a major cultural district. Arts and culture organizations like the York Theatre not only contribute to the vitality of our communities, but also enrich the quality of life of all Canadians.”
Status: Completed 2013
Size: 6,171 square feet
[Gallery Images 7-8: Jack and The Beanstalk - An East Van Panto, Set Design - Pam Johnson, Backdrop Illustration – Laura Zerebski]