Skip to content

Former Richmond seniors centre transforms into arts complex

The former seniors centre was refurbished into an annex of the cultural centre on Minoru Boulevard.

From a seniors centre to an emergency shelter to a cultural centre annex.

This has been the journey of a building tucked away just across from the Brighouse library and the Richmond Cultural Centre on the edge of Minoru Park.

The grand opening of the Richmond Cultural Centre Annex was held in February, and visitors were able to tour the pottery room, the history lab, the media lab with a soundproofed recording studio, two dance studios and a woodworking room.

As visitors enter the main foyer, they are greeted by a new gallery space dedicated to Richmond artists.

The seniors centre originally opened in 1986. In 2020, the Minoru Centre for Active Living opened, including an expanded seniors centre, shutting down the original one.

In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the former seniors centre became an Emergency Response Centre for unhoused people in Richmond.

When Aster Place, a temporary modular building, opened near Costco, those living at the emergency centre moved there.

Renovations then began on what would become the Richmond Cultural Centre Annex, located next to the cultural centre which houses the city archives, the Richmond Museum, the Richmond Art Gallery and various spaces for creative arts.

The revitalization of the former seniors centre into the cultural annex cost about $3 million. The province contributed $2.1 million and the federal government gave $133,000. The rest came from city coffers.

Recording studio lets youth promote their music 

The provincial grant included $360,000 that was earmarked for the creation of a media lab.

The lab is heavily used by youth - but is also available for all ages - and is filled with equipment such as button makers, a 3D printer as well as computers loaded with software for creative projects.

The recording studio has soundproofing built into the drywall.

“When you close the doors, you can get pretty loud in here and it’s not going to disturb anyone,” explained youth outreach worker Omar Rajan who gave the Richmond News a tour of the media lab.

This means people doing animation or other creative work in the media lab won’t be distracted by those practicing and recording music.

Thanks to the new studio with recording equipment, youth have been able to record music and upload it to YouTube, Rajan said.

“There’s a lot of talent in Richmond – there’s a lot of passion to do art in Richmond,” he added. “But the equipment needed to do a lot of it is really inaccessible.”

Friday nights in the media lab are turned into jam sessions for youth aged 13 to 24.

The computers in the media lab have been loaded with creative software programs such as Photoshop, Premier Pro, After Effects and InDesign.

“Whether it’s animation, video editing or photo editing, we have the tools here for youth to get started,” Rajan said.

There are 40 iPads for children’s and youth classes, 10 of which youth can take home to keep working on projects.

The Richmond Cultural Centre Annex is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Got an opinion on this story or any others in Richmond? Send us a letter or email your thoughts or story tips to [email protected].