By Jordie Yow

Venews - Diana Leung
Venews - Diana Leung
If you’re working on behalf of an arts or culture group and trying to figure out how you can make your event or venue legal in Vancouver, you may be worried that you are about to step in a quagmire of cryptic regulations. You might be about to embark on a slog through a swamp of red tape—but there’s someone who can help you.

Her name is Diana Leung and she is the first person filling the relatively new position of cultural liason at Vancouver’s City Hall.

“I feel like I have a really sweet day job where I’m helping people,” said Leung over coffee. Leung’s job is to help people in Vancouver’s arts and culture community navigate the difficult path to get their space or event set up. She also helps guide city policy on how best to support artists in Vancouver.

Leung won’t do all the work for you, but she will let you know who you need to talk to.

“I really believe that anyone can do it as long as they’ve got the road map,” she said.

According to Leung, she is your “insider in government” who can help you navigate the tricks necessary to getting your permit. In addition to her city hall work, Leung is a community artist who has done projects involving puppets, film, storytelling and lots of people. She still works as an artist and has previously worked in the city’s development services branch as a project faciliatator (meaning she helped complex development projects get through the regulatory process).

“I don’t think there’s another person like this anywhere,” said Jacqueline Gijssen, Leung’s boss and cultural services director at city hall, referring to Leung’s unique suitability to the position because of her familiarity with the inner workings of city hall in additon to her experiences as an artist. But even more so Gijssen is referring to position itself, which is unique to the world of Vancouver bureaucracy.

“It’s not a normal sort of position that a municipality would create,” said Gijssen. As far as she knows, Vancouver is the only city to have a staff member to actually help the arts and culture community navigate the regulatory process.

Though, one should note that places with less complex regulatory systems might not need someone to do this. Gijssen noted that Vancouver’s real estate market puts pressure on the owners of low rent places used by the arts and culture community to jack up rents or flip into new condo developments and that puts a pressure on artists here that isn’t necessarily felt elsewhere.

The creation of the cultural liason position is based on recommendations made by the Cultural Facilities Priorities Plan that the NPA had created when they were in power in 2008. Vision has supported the move since and even made an exception during the hiring freeze to create the position. With the broad support from all sides of the political spectrum this position is likely to stay. So, if you or someone you know needs some help making a project legit, you can reach Leung at

In other Venews:

The El Dorado has been hosting shows for the last month or two, particularly First Friday a monthly music night.
Funky Winkerbeans has patched things up with local promoters No More Strangers who have returned to the venue. The DTES bar has renovated their interior and now has a raised stage for bands to perform on.

Roy G. Biv has begun hosting gigs for smaller bands, but you’ll have to ask around to figure out where they’re located.