By Vanessa Gomez
Pursuing a career in visual arts has some obstacles artists have to overcome through their professional lives. One of those obstacles is finding a space big enough where they can work on their art and devote their time to create and get inspired.
According to the From the Ground Up: Growing Toronto’s Cultural Sector report from 2011, there are around 22,000 artists who have their residence in Toronto. The same report shows there is a large concentration of artists in downtown Toronto, however that population does not only produce art in the city’s core.
“Because when we are all so squeeze into our accommodations in Toronto living in 350 square feet, for $2000 a month. There is not much room to practice art as well as keeping yourself feed, clothed, warm and dry,” says Anne Frost, Program Director of the Arts Administration and Cultural Management program at Humber College.
Frost says the challenge is to find a space artists can afford and that will allow them to spend time creating work that is essential for them and the audience they are trying to reach.
The Neilson Park Creative Centre, located in Etobicoke, is a place where local artists will find studio spaces, workshops and even galleries to showcase their art.
“We are providing art experiences for the general public and our members, art experiences that are high quality and affordable,” says Petra Nyendick, Executive Director of the Creative Centre.
Nyendick explains the centre has six residential groups that have a permanent home at the centre. She says these groups can access a studio of their own where they can work on their art and engage with fellow members, creating a social and enriching experience.
Additionally, the Creative Centre helps the artists get some exposure within the community with different art showcases. Art Space Connect, Parkview and Founders are galleries at the centre which are up for rent on a three-week basis. There are two other gallery spaces, Emergence and Openfield, which are free and dedicated to promoting young and emerging artists.
Cory Therrien, an administrative assistant at the Creative Centre, explains artists can also have a reception where they can invite family, friends and the general public.
“We support local artists and give them opportunity to display in our centre. I mean it gives them some exposure of being in a professional gallery and then they can move on to other galleries as well,” says Therrien.
Nyendick believes it is important to have places like the Creative Centre inside the community since they give support to local artists and allow art creation which is beneficial to both children and adults.
“Art gives kids and adults a sense of accomplishment so when they finish a project they see that they have created something, and sometimes that journey is not easy, but at the end when you have something that you have worked on for many weeks or months it just gives you pride and accomplishment.”
If artists want to look for other places where they can either display or create their art, Frost’s first piece of advice is to keep in touch with Business Improvement Areas.
“Business Improvement Areas are also keen to have some kind of presence in these places in the way of art, that makes the place look happy, lively and attractive,” says Frost.
Humber Colleges students who are interested in displaying their art and getting some professional exposure can get involved with the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre or the L space gallery at Lakeshore campus.