Advancing Toronto’s Centre for Creative Sector Entrepreneurship: Research and Sector Engagement Findings

Artscape, 2011
In February of 2011, Artscape released a report – Advancing Toronto’s Centre for Creative Sector Entrepreneurship – that presents the findings of a 12-month-long research and sector engagement study that sought to understand the macro-market challenges facing the creative and cultural sector in Toronto.

The report calls for the creation of centre that will cultivate the entrepreneurial capacity and business skills of self-employed individuals and micro-businesses across a spectrum of creative and cultural sector enterprises. The centre would support the development of a resilient, sustainable, innovative and successful sector that makes a growing contribution to the prosperity of the city.

“It is time to give creative and cultural sector workers better tools to help them thrive so that they are better able to spread their creativity across the city and make an even greater contribution to the city’s prosperity,” said Tim Jones, President and CEO of Artscape. “If the first wave of Cultural Renaissance helped put ‘creativity on display’ in our city, the second wave in contrast needs to be about putting ‘creativity to work’.”

The report recommends that GTA needs a place that acts as a portal to what is available, while at the same time clustering and coordinating the efforts of those providing services.

Work on the study was guided by an Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the City of Toronto Economic Development Office, Cultural Careers Council Ontario, Toronto Fashion Incubator, Toronto Business Development Centre and Ontario Ministry of Culture. The study was funded in part by The Ontario Trillium Foundation Future Fund and the City of Toronto Economic Development & Culture Division.

Convergence Centres: Building Capacity for Innovation

Artscape, 2009
Toronto’s identity has been re-energized over the past five years through cultural, political and community leadership. The city’s Cultural Renaissance began with new iconic museums, galleries and training institutions then gained further momentum through Nuit Blanche, Luminato and a host of other programs and events. On the heels of this great adventure, a new wave of energy is building in the city’s cultural and creative sector. It could be said that the first wave of the Cultural Renaissance helped put “creativity on display” with greater panache than ever. The second wave, in contrast, is about putting “creativity to work” to build our city and grow our prosperity.

The Convergence Centres: Building Capacity for Innovation report is intended to contribute to Toronto’s progress in generating a more sophisticated understanding and advancing a more strategic approach to growing the cultural and creative sector. The impetus for the report grew out of the Strategies for a Creative City study in 2005/06. Through this study, a group of directors from Toronto’s creative institutions realized that there was a groundswell of new infrastructure development that was happening below the radar and formed the Creative Convergence Project Consortium. It included more than a dozen major new projects that shared an interesting characteristic – they were purposefully designed to optimize creative work by providing a platform for collaboration. The Convergence Centres: Building Capacity for Innovation report reveals new ways that talent, space and collaboration are being combined and leveraged to fuel our capacity for innovation. It has already been successful in generating numerous collaborations, partnerships, and networks. We hope this work will also provide helpful insight for governments at all levels that are looking for new ways to stimulate the economy, create jobs and build infrastructure for the future.

Creative Convergence Project Consortium
Artscape / Canadian Film Centre / Evergreen / MaRS / Ontario College of Art and Design / Toronto International Film Festival Group

Project Supporters
Ontario Media Development Corporation / City of Toronto / Waterfront Toronto / TEDCO

No Vacancy

Toronto Arts Council 1988
No Vacancy was a key report driving the creation of Artscape and the first research study into workspace affordability for artists in Toronto

Imagine a Toronto…Strategies for Creative Cities


Toronto, Canada, 2007
Artscape played a leadership role in developing a strategic framework for supporting and nurturing Toronto’s creative economy.  Informed through an international best practices study, the framework profiles the city’s creative assets, highlights challenges to supporting the creative economy and identifies opportunities to strengthen four key pillars of creativity and innovation – people, enterprise, space and connectivity.

Spillover Effects of Investments in Cultural Facilities

Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity Ryerson University, Artscape and City of Vancouver Planning Department, 2004
Artscape partnered with Ryerson University and the City of Vancouver to explore the spin off effects of investing in cultural facilities at a local level. The research offers cultural institutions a means of demonstrating a range of  social, environmental and economic impacts in their communities.

Other Key Works:

Cultural and Creative Hubs in Priority Neighbourhoods: Feasibility Study for a Cultural/Creative Hub in Weston Mount Dennis
Toronto, 2011

On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, a community meeting was held to present the research and final recommendations of Artscape’s feasibility study on a cultural/creative hub in Weston Mount Dennis that was commissioned by the City of Toronto. The full report was submitted to the City in March 2011.

In July 2010, the City of Toronto issued a Request for Quotations (RFQ) for a feasibility study for a cultural/creative hub in Weston Mount Dennis. The purpose of the RFQ was to identify and retain a team of researchers who could create a model for a cultural/creative hub that could be used in Toronto’s Priority Neighbourhoods, and to apply that model to the Weston Mount Dennis area.

To ensure that the model was grounded and well researched, a survey of best practices among cultural/creative hubs in Toronto and internationally was mandated as was substantial primary and secondary research into the state of the cultural and creative sector in the study area. The public’s involvement and input was to be solicited through an information meeting with key local organizations and networks, a Community Open House and a presentation to the community of the report findings.

The report investigates the feasibility of cultural/creative hubs in socially, economically and culturally disadvantaged areas. This report hopes to offer some answers as to how cultural/creative hubs may be one tool that can be used to stimulate economic growth and the broader benefits of culture-led regeneration in Toronto’s Priority neighbourhoods.

Artscape was retained by the City of Toronto to explore the conditions for the successful development of cultural /creative hubs in Toronto’s “priority neighbourhoods”; to develop a model for sustainable cultural/creative hubs in these economically and socially challenged communities and to explore the feasibility of developing a project in the Weston Mount Dennis areas of Toronto’s west end.


A Framework for Propelling Creative Enterprise in Liberty Village
Toronto, 2009

Artscape was retained by the Toronto Economic Development Company (TEDCO) to explore the potential for the development of a “centre for creative enterprise” in Toronto’s Liberty Village. The report explored place and space based conditions for the emergence of dense creative districts and international models designed to support and grow the creative sector as a key economic driver of growth and transformation.


City of Mississauga Cultural Plan
Mississauga, 2009

Artscape was retained as part of a consultant team led by Canadian Urban Institute to develop the City of Mississauga’s first Culture Master Plan. The plan, which supports the City’s Strategic Plan, provides a framework and long term vision, and identifies key opportunities and strategies for implementation over a five year period.
To read the plan, click here


East Bayfront ICT District
Toronto, 2008

Artscape was commissioned by Waterfront Toronto to identify opportunities to attract and anchor digital media enterprises in the emerging East Bayfront. The research provided possible models that will inform the international call for proposals to develop the multi-phase waterfront site.


City of Vancouver Cultural Facilities Priorities Plan
Vancouver, Canada, 2008

Artscape was retained by the City of Vancouver to research and develop a Cultural Facilities Priorities Plan that articulated cultural space and place priorities for the City for the next 15 years along with recommendations on strategies for how the city, working with the community, government and private partners, could realize these priorities. The plan is a key aspect of the city’s Culture Plan implementation.
To read the plan, click here.


Ottawa Arts Court Cultural Complex Building Program and Business Plan
Ottawa, Canada , 2007

The City of Ottawa selected Artscape and LORD Cultural Resources as part of a consultant team to develop a building program and business plan for the transformation of an existing multi-tenant arts facility.  Artscape developed a comprehensive sector engagement strategy and business plan that provided the foundation for a renewed civic role for the heritage site as a leading centre of innovative and multi-disciplinary performing and visual arts.


Shaw School Building
Toronto, Canada, 2006

Artscape was engaged by the Toronto District School Board to undertake a preliminary feasibility study of transforming the former 1915  Givins-Shaw Public School into a community-based arts and cultural centre. Artscape’s community engagement strategy established a strong vision based on the intersection of community, creativity and learning. This study provided the clients with a successful pilot process to addressing the repurposing of surplus school properties.


Downtown Arts & Culture Cluster Development Framework
Kitchener, Canada, 2006

As a key initiative of the City of Kitchener’s Downtown Strategic Plan, Artscape was selected to identify local creative assets, evaluate development opportunities for cultural infrastructure in the core area and to articulate key strategies for the municipality as a key stakeholder in the regeneration process. The framework provided a blue-print that reinforces the role of the creative sector in downtown’s emergence as the City’s civic, entertainment and cultural centre.


Cultural Crescent Development Framework
Saskatoon, Canada, 2006

Artscape was selected as part of a U.S.-based consultant team to identify and connect the cultural assets of three business improvement districts into a more cohesive strategic framework. As a key initiative of the City of Saskatoon’s Cultural Capital Program, Artscape developed an integrated strategy for the Cultural Crescent areas focused on festival programming, cultural infrastructure development, independent retail attraction initiatives and governance models.


East Bayfront Cultural and Animation Strategy
Toronto, Canada, 2006

As part of a broader master planning process, Artscape teamed with LORD Cultural Resources to develop a vision and preliminary strategy for attracting and sustaining a broad range of cultural activity throughout Toronto’s East Bayfront Precinct.  Strategies focused on affordable infrastructure provision, infusing artists in the development process, accommodating mixed-uses, and developing high-quality public spaces.


James Street Arts Cluster
St. Catharines, Canada, 2006

Artscape prepared a feasibility analysis for a downtown, multi-tenant arts facility for the St. Catharines and Area Arts Council .  Artscape’s engagement process brought together a range of public, private and non-profit interests to create a vision and implementation framework for the shared facility. The Arts Cluster model provided a new catalyst for arts activity in the downtown area and provided affordable programming space for non-profit arts organizations.


Tett Creativity Complex
Kingston, Canada, 2005 – 2010
Artscape was retained by the City of Kingston to undertake a multi-phase feasibility and business planning process for the redevelopment of a 57,000 ft2 former distillery on Kingston’s waterfront.  The proposed development model integrated plans for a Queens University concert hall and black box theatre with community-based performance, programming and office space to create a new cultural learning hub for the region. The concept and business plan provided a successful foundation for the integration of institutional expansion needs and an existing cultural community.