“To begin at the beginning, people on the North Shore needed space […] People were looking for somewhere in the community to belong and for a focal point for those whose recreation was in the arts.”
– Anne MacDonald, 1978
The North Vancouver Community Arts Council (North Van Arts) is located on the unceded territories of the Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
Established in 1969 as a platform for the arts in North Vancouver, North Van Arts has been advocating for the importance of art and culture ever since. As the first Executive Director of North Van Arts, Anne MacDonald led the arts council in their work to convert the old City Hall into the hub for arts and culture now known as Presentation House (1976). North Van Arts was housed in Presentation House until 2001, and the Anne MacDonald hall still stands in testament to the crucial work of advocacy and place-making.
Art is an agent of change, and with the ability to occupy, and at times transform, overlooked spaces, artists have contributed to the development of Lower Lonsdale. With the opening of the Seabus, North Van Arts installed the first piece of public art at Waterfront Park, marking it as a significant space in North Vancouver. Designed by Douglas Senft, Cathedral reflects the landscape of the North Shore through its representation of the North Shore mountains. Cathedral opened in May 1986, with artist and project juror Bill Reid, North Van Arts Council president Joseph Cantafio, and Mayor Jack Loucks joining Senft at the celebration. Cathedral continues to visibly mark Lower Lonsdale as a place of art, life, and culture as much as it is a place of history and industry.
In 1996, when Linda Feil entered the role of Executive Director of North Van Arts, she inherited Anne Macdonald’s attention to place-making. With a vision to create an accessible and flexible space for the arts, Feil ushered North Van Arts into its current home in Cityscape Community ArtSpace. A 2003 exhibition Intersections explored the “physical spaces that provide people an opportunity to meet and interact”; Cityscape and North Van Arts have been, and continue to be, that place of connection in Lower Lonsdale.
Conscious of the powerful relationship between mapping and storytelling, and the role of mapping as an active means of defining and claiming space, North Van Arts is in the process of leading a major project to create a culture map of the North Shore. The North Shore Culture Map is driven by the same energy and voice that has advocated for the importance of art in community for 50 years. North Van Arts is excited to offer an accessible tool that will increase the visibility of artists and will connect the North Shore community to the art that enlivens it. Next… Art Beyond Walls