School's Out: Repurposing Surplus Schools as Cultural Spaces

Join Artscape’s Executive Vice President, Celia Smith and Wendy Holmes, Senior Vice President, Consulting & Strategic Partnerships, Artspace USA for a discussion on unique approaches to the adaptive reuse of surplus schools for arts and cultural uses.

In Canada, a school closes every week, and 175 schools in Ontario were declared surplus between the years of 2009 and 2012 (Arnott, 2013). Communities large and small in Canada and the US are facing the unique challenge of how to re-purpose school buildings that are often large, empty, and located in residential locations. The session will feature short presentations by our panelists followed by a facilitated discussion and Q+A session with your host, Artscape’s Pru Robey.

This webinar will answer questions such as:
  • How have surplus schools been repurposed for arts and cultural uses in Canada and the US?
  • What are the benefits of repurposing school buildings for arts and cultural use?
  • What are the unique challenges to be faced in repurposing surplus schools, and how do I tackle them?
  • Schools hold an important place in their communities – how do I engage the community in the process of redevelopment?
  • What partnerships and collaborations can successfully support the repurposing of surplus schools for arts and cultural use?
  • How do I develop the “project vision” for the space?
Artscape Youngplace
Opening in November 2013, Artscape Youngplace will transform Toronto’s historic Shaw Street School into a dynamic community gathering place. The building lies in the heart of the West Queen West alternative arts district and will house a diverse mix of creators working in a variety of disciplines, as well as arts, community and social mission organizations. Artscape Youngplace will offer a theatre training facility, a centre for dance and performance, papermaking skills programs, community-based multi-media workshops, arts training for youth, music education for amateurs and professionals, family resources to support the local community, openings, performances, exhibitions and events.

Artspace USA
Artspace is America’s leader in arts-driven community transformation.  With headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington DC, Artspace runs a network of 33 affordable arts facilities in 13 states.  Representing a $500 million investment in America's arts infrastructure, our facilities provide more than 1,100 affordable live/work units for artists and their families as well as a million square feet of non-residential space for artists, arts organizations and creative enterprises. Artspace has redeveloped several surplus schools for arts and cultural use, includingWashington Studios in Duluth, MN, Bell School Arts Campus in New Orleans, Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts & Historic West Side School in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and El Barrio's Artspace PS109 in Harlem, NY.
About the Presenters:
Celia Smith In her role as Executive Vice President, Celia is responsible for successfully managing the business of Artscape, including capital projects, property management and tenant services, communications, finance and human resources. She was project lead on the complex Artscape Triangle Lofts condominium project and took on the same role on the Artscape Youngplace project. In addition to her management role, Celia is responsible for securing all financing for Artscape projects. She came to Artscape from a long career of leadership in the arts sector. Celia was the Executive Director of ArtsBuild Ontario, an umbrella organization representing over 500 small and mid-sized performing and visual arts organizations across Ontario, and the General Manager of the Canadian Stage Company for many years. As a consultant, she has worked in the past with clients including Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Playhouse, Opera Atelier and the Grand Theatre, London. Celia has served as Board Chair for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and for the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario, and as a Board member of Creative Trust. She has an MBA from the University of Ottawa and a BA (Honours) from Queen’s University.

Wendy Holmes grew up in Illinois and moved to Minnesota to attend Macalester College, from which she graduated cum laude with a BA degree in music. Before joining Artspace in 1999, she worked in the development departments of Minnesota Public Radio (1983-90), Walker Art Center (1990-92), Macalester College (1992-94) and the Science Museum of Minnesota (1994-99), where she co-directed a successful $100 million capital campaign for a new museum overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Saint Paul. As Senior Vice President for Consulting and Strategic Partnerships, Wendy oversees a staff of four that identifies new communities and new opportunities for arts-related real estate projects across the country. Wendy has become a national resource for information about urban redevelopment issues and has been interviewed by many local and national publications.

Pru Robey: Pru joined Artscape in 2007 and takes the lead in new project research and development and major research initiatives. She led the research, partnership development and sector engagement process to build the vision and case for Daniels Spectrum, a cultural hub in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, and is now leading Artscape’s efforts to develop a major new facility to support creative sector entrepreneurship while also exploring the
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