Project Description

In Phase 1 of this multi-phased project with the Vancouver Mural Festival (called VMF Unleased), Hessey identified hundreds of thousands of square feet of unoccupied commercial real estate across Vancouver and explored how these underutilized spaces could be leveraged to provide immediate, short-term spaces for cultural production and exhibition, specifically for emerging and BIPOC artists. During this initial research and proposal stage, we thoroughly examined the opportunities and barriers involved in unlocking these underutilized spaces under an artist studio residency program through a feasibility study. 

Phase 2 (the VMF Residency Program) builds upon the feasibility study conducted in Phase 1 through the creation and delivery of three pilot artist studio residencies and/or gallery spaces, six months each in duration, in shopping concourses at the heart of Downtown Vancouver. 

The pilot project spaces activated through the Residency Program are situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

About the Vancouver Mural Festival

The Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to artistic and cultural development in Vancouver with the mission to create meaningful experiences that connect art and people. Through their signature festival, consultancy work, and other community collaborations, the VMF works to cultivate a city that values and encourages a vibrant and accessible arts and culture scene. Read their description of the Residency Program.

Project goal: Provide an understanding of the opportunities and roadblocks of using these underutilized spaces for short-term cultural production and exhibition.

This project is being undertaken in 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: Feasibility Study (Named VMF Unleased; Completed)
  • Phase 2: Pilot Projects (This phase; Completed)
  • Phase 3: Sustainable Annual Program (In progress)

With the Residency Program team, Hessey developed an actionable strategy and delivery plan for three project pilots. This included: outlining an effective funding delivery path, identifying and matching vacant spaces with potential participants through a jury process, designing an artist residency program to structure the pilots, and post-pilot evaluation.  

Delivery plans were defined and prepared on the basis of each space and participant, and Hessey worked closely with relevant stakeholders to align multiple interests, identify and resolve any emerging barriers, and ensure project success. Hessey assumed leadership in facilitating the artist residency program from onboarding to exit.  


Adrian Sinclair, Vancouver Mural Festival
Germain Koh, Artist
Matthew Richter, Interim Executive Director, the Cultural Space Agency
Jonas Jones, Pilot 1 Artist
Sol Hashemi, Pilot 2 Artist
Tafui McLean, Pilot 3 Artist




Research + Proposal
Project Management