Artscape is thrilled to announce it has come to an agreement with Toronto Lands Corporation (TLC), as agent for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), to purchase the century-old inner city Shaw Street School and repurpose it as Artscape Shaw Street Centre, a centre for arts and community programming with a focus on youth. Artscape has signed a letter of intent with TLC, with an expected closing date of late Summer 2010. In early February 2010, Artscape will be issuing a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) for artists and non-profit arts and community organizations to identify their interest in purchase or rental opportunities at Artscape Shaw Street Centre.
The Shaw Street School was declared surplus to the educational needs of the Toronto District School Board in 2001. Located on Shaw Street north of Queen Street West, the building is in the heart of an area long associated with Toronto’s creative community and home to many artists.
“Artscape is thrilled to be leading the redevelopment of this project so brilliantly located in the heart of Toronto’s arts scene,” said Tim Jones, President and CEO of Artscape. “We are very grateful for the leadership of Toronto Lands Corporation, Toronto District School Board, City of Toronto and local community members who are helping to make this possible.”
Artscape Shaw Street Centre will include non-profit arts and community organizational space and artist studios. A number of the units will be sold to non-profit arts and community organizations and artists on a below-market non-residential condominium ownership program and the remainder will be rented as below-market non-residential work spaces. This mix will allow Artscape to continue to address the needs of the arts community for long-term affordable rental space while also offering some artists and non-profit organizations the opportunity to own their work space permanently and be a part of a vibrant artists’ community.
The REOI will be issued in early February 2010. Interested artists and organizations can currently sign-up to receive the REOI announcement as well as updates on the project by filling out an online subscriber form available at www.artscapeshawcentre.ca
Shaw Street School and Surrounding Neighbourhood
The Shaw Street School is a 70,000 sq ft. building located within the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood, adjacent to West Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods Park, just north of Queen Street West on Shaw Street. The 1915 Shaw building’s historic role as a platform for learning, community engagement and connectivity ceased. While the school operations formerly located within the Shaw building continue within an adjacent facility, the heritage building has remained vacant for ten years. The area is recognized as one of Canada’s most important neighbourhoods for artists and creative workers, attracted by the dense concentration of cultural venues and lifestyle businesses located throughout the community. Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Theatre Centre, the Gladstone Hotel and Camera illustrate the richness of the area. While creatively vibrant, the area is also experiencing significant gentrification pressure as the pace of upmarket residential redevelopment challenges the affordability and diversity of the community’s cultural organizations and individual artists.
Established in 1986, Artscape is a not-for-profit, urban development organization that revitalizes buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities through the arts. Artscape projects provide affordable space for creativity while generating positive cultural, economic, social, and environmental impact. Artscape currently operates seven multi-tenant creative complexes in Toronto including the award-winning Artscape Wychwood Barns and studios in the Queen Street West, Liberty Village, Toronto Island and The Distillery Historic districts. Artscape’s current development projects include Artscape Triangle Lofts, a residential condominium project for artists and non-profit arts professionals in the West Queen West neighbourhood and the Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre, a new-build capital project located in the heart of the Regent Park community revitalization project. http://www.torontoartscape.on.ca
In 2006, Toronto District School Board hired Artscape to conduct a feasibility study of the potential reuse of the former school, which included extensive community consultation. The study demonstrated strong community support for repurposing the site as a centre for arts and community programming with a focus on youth. In addition, it indicated that cultural assets, heritage preservation, environmental leadership, educational programming and community partnerships can be brought together in a unique way to transform the Shaw Street School into a dynamic centre of creative activity and learning.