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Art Downtown: A bright spot in the heart of Vancouver

By Nathan Durec

Nestled behind the Olympic torch at Jack Poole Plaza, several artists have set up easels and tents, full to the brim with paintings, drawings and sculptures. Live music plays as people walk slowly about, checking out the work on display or watching an artist as they work in their element.

Two men seeing the painting at the Art Downtown event.

This is Art Downtown, a collaboration between the Vancouver Visual Art Foundation and the Downtown Vancouver Business Imrovement Association.

Now into its third year, Art Downtown takes the idea of a gallery and an artist’s studio and combines them in the open air. It is a place for people to talk directly with artists, to watch them as they work and even to try their own hand at art as well.

In its history, the outdoor exhibition has had over 100 artists participate, showcasing more than 1,200 pieces of unique artwork.

The initial goal of Art Downtown was to create a place in Vancouver that was similar to Montmartre in Paris, a district made famous by its plentiful artist booths and live painting. It was also created to give local artists an opportunity to connect with the public during the pandemic and increasing gallery closures.

By bringing art to the public in this way, it becomes easily accessible. People who may not go into an art gallery will stop and look as they are on a walk by the water.

A man playing the guitar at Art Vancouver event.

And it works. Artists at Art Downtown have been successful in selling their work, engaging in conversations about what they do and increasing their business through their participation.

It allows local artists to promote themselves to a local market.

You can find Art Downtown on Wednesdays at Lot 19 and on Fridays at Jack Poole Plaza. The celebration of art and artists runs throughout the summer, ending in September.


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