The Venue: Chapel Arts
The Venue is a profile series from Laura Murray Public Relations that ventures behind the scenes of Metro Vancouver’s foremost arts and culture venues, diving into the past and unveiling the unique stories and events that have made an indelible impact on our city’s creative community.
Vancouver’s Chapel Arts has a dark past.
Run as a funeral home for more than 100 years by three generations of the same family, the venue (originally known as Chapel of Flowers, and then Armstrong & Co. Funeral Directors) has seen its fair share of death. When the business itself began to die in the early 2000s, the family wanted out.
In came Nathan Wiens. An illustrious woodworking artist and furniture maker, Wiens was looking for a new work studio when he stumbled upon the perfect space, being sold as a package with the dilapidated funeral home.
“While my initial goal was just to open my own studio, I soon realized the neighbourhood was starving for a community art space,” notes Wiens, who bought both properties.
Looking to breathe new life into the Downtown Eastside venue, Wiens renovated the historic space, returning it to its former glory and christening it Chapel Arts. Since spring 2008, the venue has opened its doors to a wide range of community members – from fledgling artists to graduating students to innovative musicians and not-for-profit groups.
Spread over two floors, the venue boasts a comfortable, homey vibe, with a downstairs open to concerts, parties, meetings, and grad shows, and an upstairs serving as a community art gallery.
“Chapel Arts has a very welcoming feel,” says Wiens. “We’re proud to have a very open-minded and diverse clientele.”
Having just hosted grad shows for Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s visual arts program as well as Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and a collective theatrical performance presented by Resounding Scream Theatre, this summer Chapel Arts will host a number of musical performances, weddings, and even a rock camp for tween girls.