Over the past two years, the Indigenous Creative Space Project has grown and developed in so many ways. Guided by an Indigenous Advisory Circle and supported by ArtsBuild Ontario, the project aims to build a network of knowledge and experience within a cultural context and determine the needs and recommendations for the development of Indigenous sovereign spaces across the ecology of Ontario.
Participating communities include:
Friday’s Point Temagami (Temagami/Bear Island)
Six Nations of the Grand River
Community Gathering Circles
Seven Community Gathering Circles were held for Indigenous artists, arts organizations and community members across the province. Communities were invited to speak about what is needed to foster the development of Indigenous creative spaces.
Legacy Stories highlight the stories of six Indigenous creative spaces in Ontario, exploring where the spaces begin, where they are going, and where they hope to be. These conversations were transcribed and shared internally with each organization and their communities to protect the cultural knowledge that emerged from each Circle.
Project Materials and OCAP
The Indigenous Creative Spaces Project respects the First Nations Principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession). Project materials are shared on a private website for Indigenous artists, arts organizations, and community members participating in the project. This protection creates a sovereign digital space for communities to connect and learn from the knowledge shared in this project. Access to this website is fully determined and managed by the Indigenous Advisory Circle.
In the year ahead, the Indigenous Creative Spaces Project will see the development of the online series “I Have More to Say”, which will feature dialogues and learning opportunities around emerging themes from Community Gatherings. Additional material known as “Guidance from the Circle” will also be released in early 2023, illustrating the needs and recommendations from each community around developing sustainable Indigenous arts spaces.
We would like to thank the Indigenous Advisory Circle and Co-Conveners for their guidance and shared insights in this project work.
May 19th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! There are many factors to consider for inclusive, accessible creative spaces; from making a physical space wheelchair accessible and ensuring ASL interpretation for public events, to all-gender restrooms and sliding-scale ticketing, there are many opportunities to ensure creative spaces are accessible.
Improving the accessibility of a space depends on the different structures in place across four operating models that arts organizations and their spaces generally work within:
Space is independently owned and operated
Space is privately owned and independently operated
Space is government owned and independently operated
Space is government owned and operated
Organization size, funding structures, and general organizational needs are all factors that impact how spaces define accessibility.
So, where to start?
ArtsBuild Ontario has created a toolkit to provide you and your organization with a place to start in making accessible creative spaces. In this toolkit, we provide some basic resources about accessibility legislation in Ontario, including the AODA and Design of Public Spaces Standards, Ontario Building Code and Human Rights Code. Additionally, resources are available that help to provide accessible communications and service providers for American Sign Language (ASL) and interpretation, audio descriptions, closed captioning, and transcriptions.
This toolkit is also available in both English and French.
For more resources on making your space more accessible, check out this webinar ABO presented in and learn how to assess, communicate, and put venue accessibility into practice.
April 22nd is celebrated as Earth Day by many across the globe. Created in 1970, Earth Day is dedicated to raising awareness over climate change issues. Now, each year we are reminded of our own environmental impact and our desire to do more to help our planet. In addition to making more sustainable choices in our homes, we can still care for the environment in our professional spaces too!
Have you ever considered how the physical workspace might have a negative impact on the environment? You would turn off the lights in your bathroom before leaving your own home, so why leave them on at work? The Canada Green Building Council reveals that: “buildings generate nearly 30% of all greenhouse gases. 35% of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition activities, and up to 70% of municipal water is consumed in and around buildings.”
If you work in the arts, creative spaces also play a role in our environmental impact. Consider purpose-built spaces vs non-purpose built art spaces: many museums and art galleries operate out of buildings that were not initially designed to specifically house artifacts and/or art pieces in an environmentally-conscious way. In recent years, climate change has also been a central theme around environmental awareness for many exhibitions, workshops/webinars, and conferences in the arts and culture sector. By focusing on the spaces we work in, small but significant steps can be taken to reduce our waste output.
Here are some building modifications and energy-saving tips that can help art galleries and museums reduce their environmental impact:
Changing from halogen light bulbs to LEDs
LEDs are free of hazardous materials, and they last up to 20 times longer than traditional lighting
Green roof or green wall
These can help regulate a building’s internal temperature, reduce stormwater runoff,and offer significant economic benefits, including a longer roof life and heating and cooling energy savings.Upgrading your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to decrease energy costs
If possible, becoming LEED-certified
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a universal green building rating system
Installing a composting toilet
A composting toilet is a type of dry toilet that treats human waste by the composting process, decomposing organic matter into compost-like material
If you are engaging in building or renovating an arts space, integrating sustainable alternative materials (such as bamboo, recycled plastic, wood, hempcrete, and papercrete) into your building plan
Reducing waste produced in a space, such as using less plastic bottles
Using renewable energy sources, such as solar energy
In Canada, many organizations have integrated some more sustainable methods into their spaces. Here are a few examples:
The Canadian Automotive Museum, based in Oshawa Ontario, underwent a capital project in 2015 to refresh their facility and invest in maintaining the historic structure of the building. The project saw the Museum reduce their environmental impact by upgrading their HVAC system, as well as installing new doors and safety lighting to improve the exterior facade.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collectionbecame the first LEED-certified art gallery in Canada gaining silver certification in 2010. The gallery switched over to sensor faucets and water-saving fixtures throughout, and they consulted closely with Enermodal Engineering and LEED auditors to install a new LED lighting system. Today, 80% of the gallery’s lighting system uses LEDs.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, 245 McDermot is an arts hub that features a composting toilet to more efficiently manage and reduce their waste and water use.
To help get you started, ArtsBuild Ontario has several resources to support you in your sustainable creative space journey. Check it out!
Creative Green: The Creative Green Tools were created by Julie’s Bicycle. They are widely used in the UK and other parts of Europe, and are recognized globally as the gold standard for carbon footprinting tools that serve the arts and culture sector. They are being adapted so they can be used all across Canada, and this adaptation is scheduled to launch in 2022.
Julie’s Bicycle: Julie’s Bicycle (JB) is a pioneering not-for-profit, mobilizing the arts and culture to take action on the climate and ecological crisis. JB’s website is filled with resources, news and tools – all relevant to Ontario’s creative spaces.
“The Green Cube”: This article, written by Chris Hampton and featured in Canadian Art, speaks to the amount of waste exhibitions produce and the impact creative spaces have on the environment. Museums and galleries are platforms where societal issues or ideas are shared, but the facilities which house these culturally significant exhibitions could be more environmentally-friendly.
“6 Adaptive Reuse Projects in Toronto”: Featured on Green Ribbon, this article explores the idea of adaptive reuse, which is a growing trend in architecture, placemaking, and urbanism. Chances are, you are familiar with a space that has transformed from its original purpose (old factories into lofts or office buildings). Check out six examples of these kinds of projects in Toronto!
As February comes to a close, we reflect on and celebrate the many Black individuals who have and continue to shape history. Across Ontario, there are many arts-based community organizations creating safe and supportive spaces for Black creatives. Here are several examples of Black-owned/operated organizations doing important work that manage creative spaces in Ontario.
Nia Centre for the Arts
The Nia Centre for the Arts is a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization supporting artists and community members through artistic cultural experiences. Their mission is to “support, showcase and promote an appreciation of arts from across the African Diaspora.” Born from a need for more safe spaces for African-Canadian communities, the centre recently received a capital project grant of up to $480,000 to support the construction of an accessible, energy-efficient indoor and outdoor multi-use space at their new facility.
Nia Centre for the Arts will eventually hold programs, events and provide space for artist studios and galleries. The funds will also support the construction costs to develop a co-working space, a roof-top patio, enhanced Wi-Fi infrastructure and upgrades to building accessibility.
Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism developed through the work of Black Lives Matter activists. The centre is a multipurpose space designed to provide a safe space for “radical Black experimentation and creation”. Wildseed provides skill-building and professional development opportunities for Black creatives through their programmings, such as their Black Arts Fellowship 20 month program for Black visual, movement, and performance artists.
The mandate of the Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue (BAND) is to support, document and showcase the artistic and cultural contributions of Black artists and cultural workers both in Canada and internationally. BAND also offers a variety of programs including their Emerging Artist Exhibitions (solo professional exhibits) , Performing Arts Series (emerging and established artist showcase), and Canadian Culture Series (presentation and speaking series).