An experience you can't download

Save the Rio



Dear Friends of the Rio,

The Rio Theatre needs your love! (see updates below!)

As you may have heard, the Rio building has been listed for sale, and with zoning changes it is likely a developer will ultimately tear it down.

The business operators of the Rio are preparing an offer to buy the building. The deadline is February 6, 2018. We need your help fast! We need to collect as many signatures as possible to demonstrate the community’s support in saving the existing, historical, art-deco venue that we know and love.

The existing property owners have always been among our biggest allies — now is the time to let them know how much the Rio means to YOU in support of our offer being accepted.

While the City of Vancouver has made provisions that a developer would have to include a ‘movie theatre’ in a new building, this does not ensure the same size, or that it would have live performance space. And during construction, East Van would be left with a cavernous hole in the ground, staff would lose their livelihoods, and thousands of patrons and performers — like you — would lose a beloved cultural space. While the operators of the business currently have an eight year lease, there would likely be pressure from a new developer to shorten this term.

As the operators and management of the Rio Theatre, we do not want to see it destroyed. With your support, we have worked hard to transform the Rio from a venue on the verge of closure to a thriving, successful business. The Rio has emerged as one of Canada’s most successful live performance/single-screen venues, and leads the way as a model for all independent theatres.

And we are no strangers to overcoming adversity. In 2012, we won a very public battle against BC Liquor Control with our effort to change outdated liquor laws, ultimately resulting in modernization of liquor policy across the province.

The bottom line: We do not want the Rio’s future to be in the hands of a developer that doesn’t understand the cultural needs of our community. Although we are not opposed to sustainable development if it becomes necessary in the future, we want to ensure the spirit of The Rio survives. Given the current and immediate crisis of the numerous venues this city has lost – we need to take action.

We believe the best way to #SavetheRio is for the current proprietors of the business (with the help of a team of investors) to own the building, so that they may continue to function as a dedicated steward, ensuring the space continues to thrive and remain the cultural anchor of Commercial Drive.

We want to hear your voice! Sign this petition and say a few words of what the Rio means to you.

Also you can contact the following politicians and let them know how you feel:

Director of Development Services Development Review Branch, Andrea law

Finally, many of you have asked about being a part of buying the building. For serious investors, contact me at


Update: Since we launched this campaign on Feb 1, 2018 we have collected over 25,000 signatures! We have now handed in our offer to the current landlord – Fingers crossed we can #SaveTheRio.

Update: As of Feb 8th 2018 our Offer to buy the property has been accepted! That means we have sixty days to secure the financing! We’re setting up a structure so we can allow the community to partner with us to help #savetherio. Stay tuned! We’ll be launching our full fundraising campaign soon!