Arts Umbrella announces opening of new arts education facility

Arts Umbrella is opening its brand-new arts education facility this April on Granville Island, Vancouver’s arts and culture hub. The 50,000 net-square-foot space more than triples the organization’s current space, providing children and youth with expanded programming and studio spaces.

For the first time ever, the facility will welcome the public to on-site performances and exhibitions presented by young people in art and design; dance; and theatre, music and film.

Arts Umbrella’s new home will increase the non-profit’s capacity to work with school boards, community centres, and neighbourhood houses to provide transformative experiences for vulnerable young people in our community.

The organization currently reaches more than 24,000 young people across Metro Vancouver annually and, within the next 3-5 years, the new core facility will reach approximately 15,000 children and youth each year through tuition-based programs and performances, as well as community programs, distance learning, bursaries, and scholarships.

The building will house six spacious dance studios; four theatre, music and film studios with specialized technical and audio equipment; 10 art and design studios, including state-of-the-art media labs and a photography darkroom; a 132-seat theatre; a public exhibition space; and a dedicated workshop area for woodworking, stagecraft building and general fabrication that will enhance capacity to train future industry professionals.

“As Canada’s leading non-profit arts education organization for young people, we are inspired to significantly build on the legacy that Arts Umbrella has built over the last four decades,” says Paul Larocque, President & CEO of Arts Umbrella. “Over the past few years, our staff’s hard work, innovations, and programming requirements have steadily pushed against the boundaries of our current space. Now, we have room to support and inspire more young people, proving that creativity really can be limitless.”

Arts Umbrella was founded in 1979 as a community-based organization that opened to 45 students on Granville Island. The initial building design was completed in 1995 by award-winning architecture firm Patkau Architects, with the current repurposing led by Henriquez Partners Architects and consultants BTY Group (project management); ITC Construction Management Integral (mechanical); Glotman Simpson (structural); Nemetz (electrical); DWD (theatre design); and BKL (acoustical design).

“It is incredibly gratifying to see Arts Umbrella evolve from a small grassroots effort into such an impactful organization for young people,” says Arts Umbrella co-founder, Carol Henriquez. “We started Arts Umbrella to ensure young people from all socio-economic backgrounds could access the arts, and seeing that vision expand to touch half a million students is truly special. We couldn’t have achieved this without our incredible team and support from the government, our partners, and the community. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”

In recent years, demand for Arts Umbrella programs has increased significantly. In November 2017, the Province of British Columbia confirmed the organization would move into the former South Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

In March 2018, the Department of Canadian Heritage announced $7 million in funding to support the new facility, with the Province contributing an additional $1.4 million. To date, Arts Umbrella has secured close to $33 million towards its capital campaign and endowment fund goal of $37 million.

The facility will prioritize the ongoing safety of staff and students with state-of-the-art engineering and retrofits, including an AtmosAir ionization system that naturally filters pollutants from the air. Construction and renovations commenced in January 2019, and the grand opening is slated for April 2021.

To learn more about Arts Umbrella’s new facility, visit

You might also like