The Clutch

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Perched at the top of a hill that slopes down to the heart of the City, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre has always been a gathering place. This once-abandoned church has developed into a national treasure and BC's most diverse performance space. Built in 1909, the Grandview Methodist Church boasted a congregation of over 800 by 1925, in what was Vancouver's most populous residential area. Changing demographics in post-war Vancouver led to a decline in church membership, with the United Church turning the building over to Inner City Services in 1968. The Vancouver Free University shared the space with storefront lawyers: many of these tenants became major players in the Vancouver of the 1970s and 80s. Inner City vacated in the early 1970's and Chris Wooten, an "Opportunities for Youth Arts" project officer, began working to secure a future for the building. After a summer of test runs and major renovations, the VECC opened on October 15, 1973 with a two week run of the Anna Wyman Dance Theatre. Vancouver's newest facility was warmly welcomed as an important addition to the cultural community. Critic Max Wyman wrote that the Cultch "had a look and feel of a miniature European Opera house." The fine old building is home to a marvelous array of performing arts and is known as one of Vancouver's special cultural treasures.