Steve's Blog
Thursday November 21, 2013

Keep in Touch

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Hi everyone

1. Mary Gauthier, Friday November 22nd, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Winter has arrived! I love the sunshine, but it's a bit "brass monkeys" innit? Fortunately we have a nice, warm venue at St. James Hall and there is an amazing concert tomorrow night with American songwriter Mary Gauthier. This show is almost sold out, so if you don't yet have a ticket you should order one now. Reservations are cut off - and that includes Parcel O'Rogues holders (i.e. even if you have a Parcel, if you have not yet booked a space it's too late.) There are a few tickets left at Rufus' Guitar Shop, and a few left online. There will not be any tickets for sale at the door.

2. Save The Hollywood!!

A few weeks ago The Ridge Theatre was bulldozed out of existence. The same fate could well befall The Hollywood Theatre in January. This fine old theatre was built in 1935 and operated by a single family until 2011, when, faced with a change to digital projection - which they couldn't afford with dwindling attendance - they were forced to sell. They received a verbal agreement from the new owner that he would continue to operate it as a cinema. They should have put it in writing. It remained empty for over a year before the Community Church at 7th & Collingwood secured a short term lease on the building. They cleaned it up - and it was a MESS - and have been running Services there for over a year. This remarkable organization turns all its profits over to needy community groups. They have run many movie nights. Such has been their success that they received over 300 rental enquiries in a year. With no advertizing. A few days ago they received a month's notice from the landlord. They have to move out by the end of November. The owner has a Development Permit Application before the City. He plans to demolish the entire building - with the exception of the facade - and convert it into a two-storey fitness centre. He even plans to change the facade by removing the ticket booth and altering the doors. He is making no provision for parking spaces. It is quite possible that this permit will be denied. Indeed, it seems like a "no-brainer", since it is so full of flaws. However, if it is denied, he could then apply for a permit to demolish the entire building, and there may not be anything we can do about it.

The Hollywood closed in May 2011. The new owner has asked why nobody came forward to offer to reopen it before now. Well the original owners, when they realised he had no intention of keeping his word, asked to lease it back and he demanded a huge price for this. The community remained silent, believing its demise was a done deal. There was no evidence that a lease agreement was possible. There were no "For Lease" signs posted, for example. Then the Church moved in, and with it Hope. But now it looks bleak. Not just for the Hollywood Theatre, not just for the ever-diminishing character of West Broadway, not just for the thousands of local residents who have fond memories of the Hollywood. This increasingly populous neighbourhood is about to be denied a place to play, a place to share cultural and community experiences. Local businesses are going to be denied the chance to serve those local residents - and visitors - coming to The Hollywood to see a movie, a show, a concert, or to attend a Church service.

The Hollywood is an irreplaceable piece of Vancouver's cultural history. It housed Vancouver's first neon sign. It was the first purpose-built, family-run movie theatre in Canada. It still houses 35mm projectors and the acoustics are impeccable. As a multi-faceted cultural hub - which would still include the Church - The Hollywood would not only be restored to its fullest glory, it would become a beacon in this increasingly monotone city and neighbourhood.

From The Rogue's perspective, we had been trying to meet with the Church for months. The Hollywood offers us a larger space (over 650 seats) to host bigger shows that won't fit into St. James Hall. Its concrete structure means it is cool in Summer, so we could hold a few Festival-related shows as well. It is almost twice the size of The Rio on East Broadway, so could become a viable concert venue as well as a cinema. It still has enormous untapped potential as a live venue. Vancouver has had no mid-size music venue between the Cultch (400 seats) and The Commodore (1,000 capacity) for over 25 years.

Is there anything we can do? Well yes. We helped form a Coalition to Save The Hollywood as soon as we learned of the Church's eviction notice. We organized a petition to place a 90 day moratorium on the Development Permit decision. The City reduced this to 75 days, effectively rendering it useless due to the Christmas break. The moratorium expires two days before the first Council meeting of 2014! So we set up a second petition to demand the rejection of the Development Permit and to ask the City to buy the building. Now, before you start going on about "the City can't afford it", allow me to mention that we have received at least two philanthropic offers to buy the building. The owner continues to refuse to entertain the notion of selling.

What can you do? For a start, go to and sign the new petition. There is also a form letter to send to the Development Permit Review committee - and copies are sent automatically to the Mayor and all Council members. Please add your name to the list of senders. If you wish, please feel free to send your own letter of support.

There are movie nights at The Hollywood this week. Tonight and tomorrow, in fact. They are showing the 1930s Frank Capra classic, You Can't Take It With You. It will be preceded by a short documentary about The Hollywood, recently made by local film maker Curtis Emde (tonight only.) Admission is by donation of $5 or more. There will be door prizes, and delicious popcorn and some decadent chocolates from Cocoa Nymph - as well as hot apple cider and hot chocolate - on sale in the lobby. We'd hate to think that this was the last chance to see a movie at The Hollywood, but it might be. You can also sign the petition there, and find out more ways that you can help Save The Hollywood.

We aren't giving up. We held a hugely successful rally at St. James last Sunday. There is definitely community support for The Hollywood. There are funds available to buy it. We have a Coalition ready, willing and able to run it as a cultural hub. We just need to persuade the City to preserve it. We have to believe we can do it with your support.

3. The Edge On Folk, Saturday November 23rd, 8am to noon, on CiTr fm 101.9 and

Don't forget to tune in to my show. Please join me on my latest adventure through the many musical styles I call "Roots". I have no idea what I'm going to play yet, but I promise you it will be a wild and wonderful ride! Tune in on 101.9fm, or Telus TV channel 7023, or listen live on (There are also podcasts of past shows here).

Thanks a million!