Finding space

by Jini Stolk

From the moment I heard about SpaceFinder, Fractured Atlas’ online venue database and rental system, I hoped someone would find a way to bring it to Toronto. I’m incredibly pleased that TAPA, ArtsBuild Ontario and WorkInCulture, with the support of the Metcalf Foundation, are launching SpaceFinder Toronto this fall.

Once it’s fully functional in November (but they’re accepting space registrations now; you should get yours up on the site as soon as possible) it’s going to be an invaluable tool for artists and arts organizations looking for space for rehearsals, performances, meetings, launches, and special events. The benefits of one-stop searching are huge: Fringe producers are going to be in heaven, and I imagine that party and event planners are also going to be pretty excited.

What particularly excites me is that SpaceFinder Toronto should become an invaluable asset to companies who run their own venues. As we know, most don’t have the time or staff to make sure their spaces are fully rented out, but all would benefit from extra rental income.

In New York, the Municipal Art Society is beginning a year-long project to explore the role of civic spaces in cities and discover ways to reinvent these spaces to meet new community needs. One of their goals is to create a broad national dialogue about the critical role that civic spaces play in city life. This is a conversation I’d love to be part of.

It’s sometimes been an uphill battle to gain recognition of the uniquely important role that venued companies play in our cultural ecosystem.

There’s still a great gap in collaboration and support from the heritage community; and arts funding doesn’t fully recognize the particular strains of running a space nor the community benefit provided – which goes well beyond arts access and includes fostering community identity and neighbourhood development.

Many companies in Toronto have poured enormous energies recently into renovating or building beautiful, successful new arts spaces. We should all be supporting and assisting them in every way possible – in order to avoid the sad crises of overexpansion, debt and financial meltdown we’ve been reading about in the States.

That’s why The Trillium Foundation’s increased emphasis on capital grants, in their redesigned granting programs starting 2015, is so welcome.

So is SpaceFinder Toronto. Bravo to all!

For More

The New Barn-Raising is a new tool kit from Detroit on sustaining civic spaces.

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