Art City – Artscape Launchpad
Plans are in the works to erect an entrepreneurial makers’ district, to give artists and designers a place to work, meet and grow.
The construction of a 30,000-square-foot, $27.3 million artistic entrepreneurial hub is underway in Toronto’s East Bayfront area and is set to open next fall. Artscape – a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization aimed at producing creative spaces – recently unveiled its plans for the Artscape Daniels Launchpad, an arts and design district that will provide creators with affordable access to technology, tools, innovative entrepreneurship programs, funding and business opportunities.
“When somebody walks in the door and becomes a member of Launchpad, they’re going to have access to a fully decked-out multidisciplinary production studio. It’s an opportunity to go in there and practise their craft, rub shoulders with many people, to build collaborations and seek out opportunities,” says Tim Jones, Artscape CEO. Launchpad will be a membership-based place, containing multiple facilities and tools. Jones compares Launchpad’s concept to that of a gym, in which you pay a monthly membership and get shared access to facilities. “Instead of elliptical machines and weight training, you’ll have 3D printers, woodshop and jewellery-making equipment and audio-visual recording facilities, and instead of a personal trainer you’ll have a mentor.”
The idea for this development grew out of years of research and collaboration with post-secondary institutions and Toronto trade and service organizations. “We actually learned a lot about the struggles artists have to sustain themselves, or build an organization or company.” In fact, studies have shown that artists are much more likely to hold multiple jobs to sustain themselves than people in other industries.
Jones also dispels the notion that artists are not good businesspeople. He describes them as “natural entrepreneurs,” who are constantly figuring out “how to do a lot for very little, on tight timelines, and pulling off kind of miracles.”
He notes one of the objectives of this development: “A lot of artists can act like social entrepreneurs. They may not be interested in business, in and of itself, but it can be a way to empower them to do what they want to do and make the change they want to make through their art.”
Jones says that part of the goal is to facilitate success in an artist’s career and help them continue to be self-sustaining. “There are a lot of creative businesses looking to have access to creative people. We’re going to build a marketplace of opportunities and resources.”
Creative people have an impact on the social and cultural fabric of a metropolis, and, according to Jones, contribute to city building. “Artists are, in their nature, not only entrepreneurs, but also place-makers,” says Jones. “When they move into neighbourhoods they bring all kinds of energy and vibrancy. That shapes the quality, story, look, feel and reputation of a place.”