Cutting-edge arts hub opens on Toronto waterfront
With stunning views of the lake, state-of-the-art textile, jewelry and fabrication studios, as well as a full digital media lab still to come, Artscape Daniels Launchpad aims to be a one-stop, all-you-can-create space for artists on Toronto’s waterfront.
Located on the fourth floor of the city’s newest arts hub, the Daniels Waterfront City of the Arts complex at Queens Quay and Lower Jarvis St., Launchpad wants to fill in a gap for artists — for whom Toronto is becoming increasingly inaccessible — with access to workspaces, equipment, mentoring and entrepreneurship development, to help artists do their work and hopefully make a living at it. Opening Thursday, the 30,000-square-foot space is already getting members excited.
“As an artist it can be hard to monetize your art,” said Asia Clarke, Launchpad ambassador and the owner of Wild Moon Jewelry, demonstrating the facility’s jewelry studio. “It is amazing that there’s a creative space for me to work on things that are multifaceted, and basically everything I need is here.”
Other tenants in the complex include OCADU, The Remix Project and Manifesto. Launchpad is also collaborating with HXOUSE, an incubator for young artists, launched by global superstar The Weeknd with his XO Brand creative director La Mar Taylor.
Launchpad will have all kinds of tools and resources for creative people, covering various artistic disciplines, and has hard-to-find technology including one of two digital looms in the city, a hot room in the jewelry studio and much more. There are also several interesting touches, like workspaces that are specifically built for right- or left-handed people, and beautiful common areas that can be used for collaboration, classes and showcase or launch events.
This is somewhat of a different approach for Artscape, a not-for-profit with a mission to “make space for creativity,” which often provides studio space or has artists-in-residence at sites such as Wychwood Barns. That may be coming down the line, but this is more of place for artists to come and work, and hopefully find ways to collaborate within the space, but also make connections through Toronto’s arts community.
“A lot of what we are trying to do is understand the gaps that are in the city, and make sure we help fill those,” said Karim Rahemtulla, managing director of the Launchpad space. “The idea really is to support artists, designers and creatives in their professional practice. So as opposed to just looking at providing them with spaces, but actually give them a toolbox. It has everything — from the studios to resources to staffing — to support that creative endeavour.”
Launchpad plans to have about 10,000 people come through its public programming courses, which will include workshops on entrepreneurship, marketing and other subjects. The studios and creative spaces will be reserved for members, who will have to apply to gain access. Rahemtulla says they currently have 600 members and expect to cap it at about 2,200. Memberships start at $80 per month for full access to the facility, or $50 per month for a co-working membership.
Rahemtulla has a business background, and a lot of the focus at Launchpad is helping artists turn their creative endeavours into sustainable business.
“We want the people who come into this space have a focus on growing their business,” he says. “And if you look at it globally, we are pretty much a one-of-a-kind centre right now. There’s a lot of hubs and centres in the city that have a multitude of different segments of what we’re doing. They’ll have learning programs, studios and mentorship programs. We have brought everything into one place.”
The finishing touches were still being put onto the space this week before it opens up to members on Nov. 1. A CNC wood router was being rolled into the woodworking studio in pieces where it was going to be assembled. The entire digital media lab is still a construction zone, with plans to open up on Dec. 1.
Raju Mudhar is a Toronto-based reporter covering popular culture at the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @rajumudhar