The West Vancouver Community Arts Council (WVCAC), established in 1968, is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for both visual and performing artists. Our mandate is to provide opportunities for people to enjoy and participate in cultural activities, deliver visual, literary and performing arts programs, foster interest in our diverse cultural heritage, and promote the many talented individuals living and working in our community. Since 1991, the Arts Council has occupied the Silk Purse, a waterfront art gallery and studio. We host 13 art shows per year and we are open to the public free of charge, Tuesday through Sunday.
The West Vancouver Community Arts Council acknowledges that the lands on which we gather for cultural activities are part of the traditional ancestral territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səĺilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.
The Silk Purse was constructed in 1925 as a summer cottage, reflecting the predominant use of land, by settlers, along the Ambleside shore in the period before the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge. Few tangible reminders of this phase of West Vancouver’s waterfront history remain. It was later adapted for year-round use. In 1969 author John Rowland purchased the cottage and land, renovating it to make it into a quirky honeymoon cottage, full of Canadiana, for rent at $12 a night. Rowland’s son said that his father tried to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, bestowing on the building its present name. After a time, Rowland decided to live there with his family and had architect/potter/artist, Zoltan Kiss, expand the home to make it more practical for family living. The acquisition of the building in 1991 by the District of West Vancouver and its adaptation as an arts centre reflects changing land uses on the Ambleside waterfront, as public uses gradually replace private residential use.
Since 1991 the Silk Purse has been the home of the West Vancouver Community Arts Council. It is a popular destination for our engaging Arts and Culture programming, enhanced by the waterfront view, intimate cottage like space, and surrounding park land.
The Silk Purse Art Studio, on the street side of the building, is the location for children’s art programs, after-school courses, and spring and summer break art camps run by Artmania.