Last Thursday’s 20th Anniversary bash for Artscape was a who’s-who of Toronto arts philanthropy: the guest list boasted big names from around the city like Councillors Joe Mihevc and Gord Perks, Toronto Arts Council Executive Director Claire Hopkinson, Poet Laureate Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, and more. It was an evening of being seen, sampling a whirlwind of savoury hors d’oeuvres and trading congratulatory speeches with some of Toronto’s most influential arts personalities.
Artscape can certainly afford to be self-congratulatory after the recent endowment of $3-million from the provincial government toward the Green Art Barns at Bathurst and Saint Clair. The project will redevelop the abandoned Wychwood streetcar repair barns into community space for artists, environmentalists and local residents of the area. If the foundation’s work in the Distillery District and the Parkdale Arts and Cultural Centre are any indication, the Green Art Barns are sure to transform the St. Clair West area into Toronto’s new cultural village.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. It seems as though the true “Bohemian” residents of the reigning artsy neighbourhood, the Queen West Triangle, could soon be retreating to greener pastures after the recent Ontario Municipal Board rulings regarding 48 Abell and its associated condo projects. Artscape CEO Tim Jones did not hesitate to express his anger at the ruling: “All this talk about creativity, innovation and cultural renaissance means nothing at all if we’re prepared to sit back and watch partisan creative people being pushed out of the neighbourhoods they helped to enliven in the first place.” He gave a nod of appreciation to David Miller and Toronto’s City Council for opposing the OMB, which was followed by thunderous applause.
In the last 20 years, Artscape has created 240,000 square feet of cultural space dedicated to live-in work studios, offices and galleries, all in the name of building Toronto’s identity as a world-class city of the arts. It’s been an uphill battle, and Torontoist wishes them another two decades of success in the future.
This Thursday, February 15, Artscape presents an Urban Leadership Series session of the Canadian Urban Institute entitled The Path to Culture-led Regeneration: Who’s Leading the way? from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Joseph Workman Auditorium (1001 Queen St. West). Tickets: $99-$125 (416-365-0816 ext. 234).