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We believe in the power of arts and creativity to contribute to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of our city.

For over 30 years, Artscape, a not-for-profit organization, has made space for creativity for artists and creatives to thrive. This has resulted in Artscape developing and operating 15 unique creative and community spaces across Toronto; vibrant community cultural hubs, performance event spaces, a creative entrepreneurship centre and artist housing and work studios. Our objective has been to ensure that artists and creatives have community embedded affordable functional work spaces, allowing them to create and innovate without hindrance, while also enhancing the local community with personality and life beyond bricks and mortar. As Toronto experiences a high economic growth, particularly from within the tech sector, the urban affordability crisis continues and intensifies. Artists and creatives, increasingly, struggle to find affordable places to live and work. They are often burdened with precarious livelihoods that leaves little time and energy for the creative process. The pandemic exacerbated this precarity, amplifying disparity and challenges across Toronto. The city is in dire need of a sustained thriving creative community in order to own its reputation of being a vibrantly exciting and livable city.

Artscape has been instrumental in establishing a global movement around creative placemaking, a practice that leverages arts and culture as a catalyst for community and urban development. But creative placemaking is not only about allocating space for arts and culture in development plans. It’s about enabling the people that live and work and transform these places, supporting community resilience and fueling the creative economy.

The creative economy encompasses a range of industries and occupations, including, media creators, designers, visual artists, craft-design makers, performing artists, writers, musicians, and a host of supporting and ancillary professions. It is essentially centred around people’s talent and is human-focused. Yet there are untapped opportunities at the intersection of arts, creativity and the innovation of urban economy that is exciting and awaiting engagement.

Our creative entrepreneurship hub, Artscape Daniels Launchpad, provides co-working, design & fabrication and digital media facilities to support creatives that are looking to start and grow their careers and businesses. At Launchpad, and our other hubs, we strive to deliver programs that support entrepreneurship skills development and connections that will provide a foundation for more sustainable incomes and business growth.

The needs of artists and creatives, and their economic potential, are not fully recognized by those who fund and support innovation. Rather, they are presented as benefits and values brought to community and economy as being an esoteric by-product instead of purposeful and value directed goals. Creative practices and distribution – in design making and content creation – have rapidly shifted due to digitization, generating new creative sectors and opportunities, such as gaming and immersive media, fashion and product innovation; a direction that creates jobs and strengthens local identities. Another opportunity is to set the stage for interdisciplinary exploration, which can be a catalyst for creative and innovative thinking. Arts and creative practices can actively inform innovation in health, environment, finance – broad challenge areas where scientific and technological solutions must be paired with cultural and societal benefits that invites public engagement. How do we ensure that private and public investment flows to support arts and creative sectors as a priority and not an afterthought? Does increased intention for corporations to pursue Environmental Social Governance (ESG) investment present an opportunity to build arts and creative infrastructure in new ways?

These are the challenges that we and our collaborators feel compelled and excited to tackle – for Toronto’s inclusive growth and development.

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