MPCAS inaugural program PLACE:
The current programming theme of the MPCAS is PLACE, which looks at a changing Mount Pleasant and Vancouver through works by artists, curators, and residents who live here or are connected to the area, exploring its past, current, and future vitality.
Mount Pleasant was one of Vancouver’s earliest neighborhoods, built along a large salmon and trout creek that ran from the swampy higher grounds down to the ocean — the same path as what is now Main Street. The area became a focus of colonial settlement in the mid-19th century and local Indigenous communities were forced out to make way for businesses that grew into a bustling destination neighbourhood. By 1910, business moved west with Shaughnessy becoming the preferred neighbourhood, and Mount Pleasant fell into economic decline for almost 100 years. With working-class roots, abundant rental housing, and transient tenants, it was the poorest neighbourhood outside of the Downtown Eastside. A community of immigrants, urban poor, and artists created the conditions from which much of Vancouver’s early modern cultural life grew.
Beginning in the 1990s, Mount Pleasant’s gentrification started to take hold, initially through the live/work studio condos that gradually began to appear in the area. In 2010, with the development in the Olympic Village area, aggressive upzoning began, and many residents were evicted from their long-held homes as rents doubled and tripled within a few years. Mount Pleasant’s gritty characteristics suddenly became its new selling points. Developer marketing highlighted its arts community and heritage buildings—although ironically both became early targets in the gentrification process. Mount Pleasant quickly transformed from one of Vancouver’s cheapest neighbourhoods to one of its most expensive, ground zero for the increasing unaffordability of the city.
The MPCAS engages with this complex and, at times, tense history of displacement, creativity, expansion and grit.
Image credit: John Allison, Storefronts of Mount Pleasant, photography, 2007-2018.