Artscape is a not-for-profit organization that
makes space for creativity and transforms communities.
Artscape was founded in response to a space crisis within Toronto’s arts community brought on by the 1980s real estate market boom. When the market bottomed out in the early 1990s, Artscape entered the property development business. Its first generation of multi-tenant arts complexes provided affordable artist work and live/work studios, as well as rehearsal, performance, office and storage facilities for non-profit arts organizations.
Today, Artscape has evolved from a studio provider focused on relief of poverty to a creative urban development group that promotes wealth generation. Artscape’s projects are designed to generate positive cultural, economic, social and environmental impacts. While Toronto remains the central focus of our work, Artscape now shares its experience with a wide range of communities and constituencies across Ontario, Canada and around the world.
Artscape grew out of the Toronto Arts Council at a time when the real estate market was booming. City inspectors were closing down illegal artist live/work spaces in warehouse buildings and there was growing concern about the viability of artists and arts organizations continuing to live and work in downtown Toronto.
In association with the Toronto Arts Council, Artscape published No Vacancy, the first comprehensive review of space issues and concerns of Toronto's arts community. This work was instrumental in achieving recognition and funding from the City of Toronto as its partner in addressing the space-related challenges of the arts.
Just after the bottom fell out of the real estate market in the early 90s, Artscape jumped into the real estate development business. Artscape's first project at 96 Spadina Ave. provided affordable work studios in Toronto's then burgeoning gallery district.
A new home for new music was created with the opening of The Music Gallery at 179 Richmond Street. Sadly, this Artscape development has since been demolished to make way for a condominium development.
Artscape Non-Profit Homes is set up to build affordable artist housing
Artscape opened the first legal artist live/work building, Artscape West Queen West, at 900 Queen St. W. in Toronto. This prime Queen West location provides subsidized and market rate housing for 22 artists and their families and six artist work studios.
The opening of the Parkdale Arts and Cultural Centre, at 1313 Queen St. W., marked Artscape's first foray into mixed-use development in a project that combined low-cost artist live/work studios with local business associations, social service organizations, and a gallery.
Artscape rescued the former Toronto Island Public and Natural Science School from the wrecker’s ball and Artscape Gibraltar Point was born. Artscape Gibraltar Point offers a range of programs and services for the arts, non-profit, government and education sectors. From 2000-2007, it was home to the Gibraltar Point International Artist Residency Program.
Artscape publishes Square Feet: The Artist's Guide to Renting and Buying Work Space, a 158 page resource manual for artists, arts organizations and collectives looking to rent or buy work space. Since its publication, Square Feet has become a model for other cities across North America looking to develop space-related resources for their artists.
Artscape plays a catalytic role in the revitalization of The Distillery Historic District with the opening of Artscape Distillery Studios, comprised of 60 work and retail studios, offices, rehearsal and performance spaces.
The City of Toronto grants approval in principle to the Artscape Wychwood Barns at the site of the former Wychwood Car Barns site.
Artscape’s first Creative Places + Spaces Conference was in October 2003. Jane Jacobs, Richard Florida and 50 other speakers led a captivated delegation of 450 arts and culture leaders from across Canada, U.S. and U.K in an exchange about the growing importance of creativity to cities and the new economy. The inaugural conference was a watershed moment in the advancement of the creative cities movement in Canada.
Artscape begins a consulting practice to share its knowledge with cities such as New York City, Manchester, Kingston, Ottawa, London and Sudbury. This division is now known as the Creative Placemaking Lab.
Artscape speaks at more than 20 events in Canada and abroad including: World Summit on Arts and Culture (Gateshead UK), Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit (Philadelphia), International Economic Development Council Conference (New York), and Creative Workspaces (London, UK).
Creative Places + Spaces - Risk Revolution took place in Toronto in October 2005 and expanded the creative city dialogue into social, educational, environmental and private sectors. It featured 60 speakers from 20+ cities around the world and attracted a delegation of more than 600 practitioners and policymakers working in the arts, planning, economic development, education, environment and business.
Artscape launches a program to build a Canadian community of practice around Creative Spacemaking and Placemaking.
Artscape Foundation is launched to support Artscape's charitable work.
Artscape breaks ground on the Artscape Wychwood Barns, and arts and environmental centre run by and for the community at the site of the former Wychwood TTC streetcar repair facility.
An innovative partnership is forged in the Queen West Triangle between Artscape, the City of Toronto, Urbancorp and Active 18 to create the Artscape Triangle Lofts: 70 units of artist live/work space within the Westside Gallery Lofts development.
Artscape transforms the historic Wychwood TTC streetcar repair barns located in Toronto’s St. Clair and Christie neighbourhood into the Artscape Wychwood Barns: a 60,000 sq. ft. multifaceted community centre where arts and culture, environmental leadership, heritage preservation, urban agriculture and affordable housing are brought together to foster a strong sense of community.
Creative Places + Spaces 3 featured 7 keynotes, 26 speakers, 11 Emcees + Moderators, 8 ‘On Location’ Videos, over 500 delegates and upwards of 300 artists in 5 venues across the city of Toronto. In addition to the two day conference, we featured a Collaboration Workshop, The Collaborative Dinner and 6 Study Tours throughout the city.
Toronto Community Housing Corporation, The Daniels Corporation and Artscape form a partnership to working collaboratively with the local community on the development and operation of a vibrant new arts and cultural centre in Regent Park. The Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre will anchor culture as a primary driver in the community’s revitalization, both physically and symbolically.
The Artscape Triangle Lofts opens, bringing 56,000 square feet of artist live/work space to the Queen West Triangle. This initiative used a new self-sustaining development model that permits opportunities for both rental housing and live/work ownership, encourages a mixed-use community, and supports a range of incomes in the arts community in perpetuity.
Located on the ground floor of the building is the Artscape Triangle Gallery, an 1100 square foot multi-purpose space for short-term rental.
Artscape announces it has come to an understanding with the Toronto Lands Corporation as agent for the Toronto District School Board, to purchase the century-old inner city Shaw Street School and repurpose it as Artscape Youngplace (formerly Shaw Street Centre).