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Nov 20: Winner of Vancity Award

Vancouver East Cultural Centre Winner of $1-Million Vancity Award

Vancouver, November 20, 2002 - The curtain has been lifted and the Vancouver East Cultural Centre has taken centre stage as the winner of the $1-million Vancity Award for its proposal to restore, renovate and revitalize its facilities.

One of the region's treasures, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre - the Cultch - has a national and international reputation for excellence in the arts. However, after 30 years, 7,500 performances and 1.5 million visitors, centre executives say the cultural jewel needs some polish.

The plan is to restore and renovate this historic venue, while preserving its charm and character. Restoration plans include making the auditorium more comfortable, building better washrooms, upgrading the electrical wiring and plumbing and doing a structural upgrade. Renovation plans include the addition of a new art gallery and lobby, a state-of-the-art studio theatre, office space for resident arts groups, backstage dressing room facilities and new workshop space.

The studio theatre will accommodate emerging Vancouver artists and community groups, the expanded lobby will be a community gathering place and the renovated centre will provide additional venues for local arts groups to use.

The Vancouver East Cultural Centre project was chosen from among three finalists by Vancity members who voted for their choice in September and October. This is the second year of the annual award that saw applications submitted from 150 non-profit organizations in the communities Vancity serves. The $1-million award money comes from the percentage of profits set aside each year for community initiatives.

The other two finalists included the Co-operative Auto Network, a not-for-profit car sharing organization, which proposed to expand its car sharing program to include 30 electric hybrid cars, as well as a 'station car' program for transit-poor areas and the Mennonite Central Committee-British Columbia, a non-profit relief and development agency (in partnership with Pacific Parklands Foundation), which wanted to transform a 16-hectare gravel pit in Aldergrove into a wildlife sanctuary and recreation area and provide the unemployed with employment and skills training.

"All of these ideas were visionary and it was a close race. Vancity would have been proud to fully support whichever project our members chose," says Bruce Ralston, chair of Vancity's Board of Directors. "The Vancouver East Cultural Centre is an important part of this community's culture and history. The opportunity to support something that will be enjoyed for generations to come is exactly why we created the award."

Vancity CEO Dave Mowat said he is invigorated by members' enthusiasm about the award.

"Member voting exceeded our expectations, and we're excited about the interest that has been generated among our members and in the community. We are pleased that so many want to work with us to make our communities better places to live, work and play," he says.

Duncan Low, executive director of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, said his organization is grateful for the award and anxious to get going on the project.

"This is a dream for us. We are looking forward to seeing where the next act will take us in bringing the region more exciting art and culture in a more comfortable setting than ever before," he says.

Applications for the next Vancity Award will be accepted from non-profit organizations in the communities Vancity serves starting in March 2003.

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $7.5 billion in assets, 282,000 members and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity belongs to the Exchange Network, which has 481 ATMs throughout BC. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.