Artscape is a not-for-profit urban development organization that makes space for creativity and transforms communities with projects in creative placemaking.
Focus: Arts, Culture, Urban Development Geographic Area of Impact: Canada
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 1,400 (2013)
Annual Budget: USD $5 million (2013)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 87%
Artists play important roles in the life of cities, yet the majority of artists in Canada struggle with poverty-level incomes on the margins of urban life where they are disconnected from each other and the marketplace. Much of the value generated by the arts accrues to those outside the arts community, particularly when it comes to real estate. When a group of artists move into a low-rent neighborhood, they add vibrancy and make neighborhoods desirable, but as real estate values rise they are often priced out of the neighborhoods they helped to enliven. This phenomenon that casts artists as the hapless victims of urban development is commonly referred to as the “SoHo effect.”
Innovation and Activities
Artscape is a pioneer in harnessing the power of the arts to act as a catalyst for urban revitalization. Artscape transforms buildings and spaces across Toronto into dynamic community assets by brokering trust relationships between real estate developers, government housing agencies, the arts and culture community, and local community groups. Since 1986, their projects have helped to stimulate some of Toronto's most vibrant and creative neighbourhoods. For example, Artscape partnered with Toronto Community Housing, The Daniels Corporation and the local community to create the $38-million Daniels Spectrum, a vibrant community cultural hub that opened in 2012 in Regent Park, a long-neglected 69-acre social housing development currently undergoing a five-phase revitalization. A remarkable story of vision and collaboration within this major urban renewal project, Daniels Spectrum delivers a place for Regent Park’s incredible arts talent, community spirit and cultural richness to thrive.
Artscape’s properties today provide living and/or working space for nearly 1,400 artists and professionals at over 65 non-profit cultural organizations. Its innovative model allows Artscape to offer spaces at below-market rates, making spaces affordable and sustainable; the annual savings in occupancy costs for Artscape tenants and owners in 2012 was $2.5 million. The artists in Artscape spaces practice in myriad disciplines (fine arts, theatre, music, dance, photography, etc.) and the non-profit organizations include galleries, festivals, performing arts companies, as well as educational, community-building and environmental organizations, and many more. The spaces in the Artscape portfolio themselves are exhibition, performance, office, rehearsal and residential spaces, studios, meeting rooms and social spaces. Artscape provides community programming encompassing arts-based learning opportunities and youth arts mentorship programs. Many thousands attend cultural events held in Artscape’s properties every year.
In 2007 Artscape coined the term “creative placemaking” to describe the practice of leveraging the power of art, culture, and creativity to be a catalyst for the change growth and transformation of places. Creative placemaking is becoming a globally recognized practice and Artscape represents a leader in the field. In 2013 Artscape’s Creative Placemaking Lab worked with 40 different communities across Canada, Australia and elsewhere to share their learnings and build a global community of best practice.
As President and CEO of Artscape since 1998, Tim Jones has explored the relationship between creativity and place and has been a champion of arts-driven revitalization and culture-led regeneration through projects such as The Distillery Historic District, Artscape Gibraltar Point and the Creative Places + Spaces Conference. Under Tim’s direction, Artscape has grown from a Toronto-based affordable space provider into an international leader in building creative communities.
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