New on the blog: ArtsBuild ventures to Sudbury

SudburyWe ventured to the north of the province to attend the Art Gallery of Sudbury’s “How to Purpose Build a ‘Category A’ Museum.” This was a great opportunity for gallery stakeholders and community organizations to understand what a “Category A” museum is and what that might look like for Greater Sudbury’s future art gallery. The Sudbury Public Library and gallery are joining forces to work together on building a new facility, which city council has made a priority project.  The new facility would also put the Art Gallery of Sudbury in a “Category A” designation.

The session featured three guest speakers: Lisa Daniels from Alix Gallery in Sarnia, Simon Lambert from the Canadian Conservation Institute and Alexandra Badzak from the Ottawa Art Gallery. Lisa and Alexandra spoke to their own successes and challenges they faced in their recent capital projects while Simon touched on the importance of storage requirements for a “Category A” museum.

But before we recap the session, you might be wondering what is a “Category A” museum?

The term comes from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Designation of Institutions of and Public Authorities criteria for organizations to access tax incentives and grants. Institutions such as museums, public art galleries, archives and libraries fall under this designation. Plus, a “category A” museum must have unlimited designation from one of the following groups: Objects recovered from the soil or waters of Canada, objects of material ethnographic culture, military objects, objects of applied and decorative arts, objects of fine arts, scientific or technological objects, archival material and musical instruments.

Simon Lambert’s presentation focused on the requirements for movable cultural property for a “Category A” museum. Careful consideration towards storage was a key focus point when arts organizations arrive at the design phase of their building projects. On average, a museum’s collection is 98% in storage at any given time, so it is essential to have the right space reserved or created for this purpose. There are tons more great aspects to consider when designing exhibition space too –read about the Canadian Conservation Institute’s requirements and services!

Alix Gallery in Sarnia – looking back on their capital build

ALIX Art GalleryExecutive Director Lisa Daniels from Alix Gallery in Sarnia offered wisdom from the gallery’s transformation into a “Category A” purpose-built gallery. The gallery first opened its doors to patrons in 1961 as the Sarnia Public Library and Art Gallery. The gallery outgrew the space and reclaimed The Thom Building (one of downtown Sarnia’s historically and socially significant buildings) to create a purpose- built facility to house a permanent collection and display premiere exhibitions. The building’s gorgeous facade has been retained and restored back its historically accurate condition. Inside, the new facility features world-class equipment and regulatory systems to maintain environmental controls necessitated by world-class artworks.

Lisa’s most significant take away for an organization starting a new build was to deliver on your promises. The classic saying goes “build it and they will come,” but that was not a trap the new gallery was about to fall into. The gallery used marketing and relevant programming to draw patrons to the remarkable new space. They also hosted a rare exhibition shortly after opening which garnered 20,000 visitors; two times their initial goal. This capital project is also a great example of how an arts organization can balance resources during the building phase. While construction work was being completed for the new purpose- built arts facility, Alix Gallery staff brought programming to the community in public spaces.

The Ottawa Art Gallery – partnerships and shared goals
OAG_EXPANSIONThe Ottawa Art Gallery is breaking new ground when it comes to partnerships and cultural institutions with their current building project. Director and CEO Alexandra Badzak shared her goals and current project status on their new “Category A” gallery. This build has been a long time coming, with feasibility studies dating back to 2004 for the new facility. The expansion of the gallery and Arts Court Redevelopment project are part of the City of Ottawa’s downtown revitalization plan. The gallery will expand by 80,000 feet on five floors, featuring a multidisciplinary screening space that will be home to the Canadian Film Institute.

Alexandra highlights that having a business plan and storytelling are key skills for partnership – which remains at the core of the gallery’s expansion. The new space will include a hotel and condo, all sharing the same goal for this city block dedicated to arts and culture. The City of Ottawa led the process of bringing in other players for the expansion, but the gallery is harnessing the densification of Arts Court and the area of their future home. It is located in the cultural core of downtown Ottawa right beside the University of Ottawa. Alexandra emphasized how important accessibility to culture will be in this space and that they will remain free for all to visit.

The information session was an excellent way for patrons, board members and staff to compare plans for the Art Gallery of Sudbury with other capital projects around the province – with an emphasis on making their space a “Category A” facility. We are excited to hear more about the upcoming project plans for the gallery and library!

SpaceFinder Waterloo Region is now taking venue listings!



What is SpaceFinder Waterloo Region? It’s a FREE online directory of venues and creative spaces in the community available to rent. It’s a matchmaking tool for renters looking for creative space and spaces looking to promote their rentals.

List your space today!

We are looking for spaces such as galleries, cafés, yoga studios, sacred spaces, theatres, dance studios and others that rent their spaces for creative uses to join a community of local venues on SpaceFinder. SpaceFinder is a “go to” site for artists, creative types and event planners looking for unique space to rent.

SpaceFinder is active in Toronto and Hamilton, and will be launched in Alberta, BC and Winnipeg by Fall 2016 – Waterloo Region is the first Regional SpaceFinder site in North America.

Listing your space on SpaceFinder gives your space exposure to new audiences AND more revenue potential.

What you need to sign up your space:

  • Description and details of your space
  • Pictures of your space (iPhone photos are great!)
  • Rental policies (if you have)
  • Contact information

Want to learn more about SpaceFinder Waterloo Region?

We understand that all space bookings are different and range from simple to very complex. To help our SpaceFinder users get the most out of their listings, ArtsBuild Ontario is hosting FREE Info Sessions on how to list your space, maximize SpaceFinder’s online features, and answer any questions you may have.

Join us June 21 from 3-4 pm at the Kitchener Public Library

(85 Queen St. North, Kitchener)


June 23 from 3-4 pm at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts

(60 Dixon St., Cambridge)

Info sessions will include:

  • Live demo so you can add your spaces right away
  • Tips on promoting your rental spaces
  • Q&A to help you get started
  • Features that save time and support your bottom line

If you have any questions or require assistance with your listing, please contact Alex Glass at or 519.880.3670 ext 103.

Who is bringing SpaceFinder to Waterloo Region?

ArtsBuild Ontario has worked hard to secure funds and partners to make this resource available in Waterloo Region. Regional partners including City of Kitchener, City of Cambridge, City of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo are supporting this tool for the creative community because they understand the need for artists to find affordable space, and for spaces to reach potential renters.

This project is supported by Department of Canadian Heritage and Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Canada Cultural Spaces Fund – June 1 Webinar Recording

ArtsBuild has been working hard to better understand how Canada Cultural Spaces Fund (CCSF) money can be utilized and accessed by our small to mid-sized organizations – and we have good news to share!

Canada Cultural Spaces Fund has a specific amount allocated to Ontario projects for 2016/17. We are encouraging you to inquire about your project (big or small) to understand the funding process. The eligibility requirements have not changed but the CCSF budget has been significantly increased – so now is the time to apply! You can click here to see if your project and organization are eligible.

On April 14, the Department of Canadian Heritage announced that it now has the delegated authority to approve funding under $75,000, without Ministerial approval. This means a shorter turnaround time for asks of $75,000 or less in an application.

Feasibility studies are now funded! For those organizations interested in pursuing a feasibility study for your capital project, Canada Cultural Spaces is now funding 50% of the eligible costs of a feasibility study.


To better understand these changes to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, ArtsBuild Ontario hosted a webinar with Valerie Hopper, Manager of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund Ontario Region and arts organizations registered on Bricks&Mortar. Topics covered included the changes to the CCSF, eligibility, the applications process and more.

Now we want to share this information with you! Click here or the below link to access a recording of our webinar with Valerie, and/or here to view the transcript of the webinar and Q&A period.

Link to Webinar Recording

Canada Cultural Spaces Fund June 1 Webinar Transcript

For more information on the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, please contact:
Andrew Shaver
Arts & Heritage Consultant
Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, Ontario Region


ABO Blog | Art meets Digital in Kitchener-Waterloo


ArtsBuild had the opportunity to tour digital spaces in our own backyard at Orchestra’s Canada and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s Digital Day. We traveled with 20 orchestras and professional musicians to some of Kitchener-Waterloo’s core tech companies including CommunitechAccelerator Centre and Google with the intention of immersing ourselves in the digital world.

Admittedly, the office culture of the tech industry (and the industry as a whole!) may have been unfamiliar ground for most arts administrators. But the work culture at these companies was really inspiring to see. These workplaces are buzzing with creativity and we were surrounded by tech creators undoubtedly working on some big project set to hit the digital market soon.

But why would a group of orchestras choose to spend a day learning about the world of tech? The answer is simple: learning about other sectors sparks new ideas.

Museums are taking a lead on virtual realities and image mapping. Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail published the article “The role of virtual reality and technology in the future of museums” which argues how museums are well positioned to take on the role of tech pioneers. The Canada Science and Technology Museum is testing the waters with a virtual reality (VR) headset that creates a simulation of 1936 CN 6400 steam locomotive. Visitors are essentially “going back in time” to experience culture. Plus, VR provides a creative interim solution to for the Canada Science and Technology Museum to connect with audiences while the museum remains closed for renovations.

CAVE_CrayolandThe Canadian War Museum is also embracing digital and are currently developing a Vimy Ridge virtual-experience to commemorate the centenarian year of the battle. The ROM in Toronto features augmented reality in their Tyrannosaurus Rex exhibit, which superimposes a digital dinosaur over ancient fossils.

But integrating technology into these cultural institutions doesn’t detract from their traditional role as purveyors of the past. Digital realities are helping to educate audiences and make the content more accessible. Mark Keating, chief information officer at the ROM, interestingly points out in the article that the integration of digital experiences renders audience attendance as an outdated measure of success for museums. VR can be accessed anywhere– location and getting people in the door isn’t necessarily relevant for audiences to experience an emotional connection with the content.

So what does this mean?

Museums are using technology to compliment traditional exhibitions and educational programs. Those who have embraced the digital are breaking the mold of cultural presentation. They are inviting new audiences to experience their offerings, while maintaining a physical presence in their communities. But what is perhaps most important to take away from these examples is that digital immersion is not just a supplement to museum programming – it’s the future. The worlds of technology and the arts are coming closer together and the results are going to be extraordinary.


ArtsBuild receives OTF Grow Grant!

OTFVERTcolourWe are very excited to announce that ArtsBuild has received an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) Grow Grant! This grant will allow ArtsBuild to continue to offer three key programs that assist our artistic leaders in the area of facility management.

Funding from the OTF Grow Grant, will support the continuation of the Arts Facilities Mentoring Network, Asset Planner for the Arts and the expansion of SpaceFinder in more Ontario communities. All three programs will be accompanied by a Learning Series to further support our organizations.

Arts Facilities Mentoring Network
ArtsBuild is excited to again partner with WorkInCulture for the third iteration of the Arts Facilities Mentoring Network. This iteration offers arts organizations engaged in capital related issues/projects one on one support from experienced professionals. Over the course of a year, mentors and mentorees will participate in multiple in-person learning opportunities including workshops, webinars and check-ins, in addition to their one on one meetings. More details on this program will be released tomorrow on May 17!

Asset Planner for the Arts
Asset Planner for the Arts enables organizations take a proactive approach to managing your facility. It is an online program that captures facility assets in a cloud-based software, allowing organizations to access real time data, provide capital forecasts and up to date reports on the condition of the facility. This easy to use program helps arts organizations plan ahead for building repairs and upgrades. Through the OTF Grow Grant,  ArtsBuild will be able to provide a subsidy for this two year software, to make it more affordable for our arts organizations.

ArtsBuild is pleased to partner with Ameresco and WalterFedy on this program. More details on this program will be released on June 7!

SpaceFinder expansion in Ontario
Following the success of SpaceFinder Toronto and SpaceFinder Hamilton, ArtsBuild will be expanding the tool to Waterloo Region and three additional communities in the province. This incredible online tool allows artists to search for creatives spaces, while venues and spaces can market their spaces to new and potential users! Check out! More information to be released on May 31!

The Learning Series
The OTF Grow Grant will provide additional support through ArtsBuild’s inaugural Learning Series designed to complement these three core programs. The series includes in-person workshops, webinars and other resources to assist our arts organizations in leveraging ArtsBuild’s programs and maintaining more sustainable facilities.

We look forward to sharing more information about all of these programs in our newsletters and eBlasts in the coming weeks!

If you are interested in knowing more about any of our programs, please email Alex Glass, Program Manager at