Painting the arts green: our 5 favourite picks from Resource Library

Environmental Art
Environmental Art at Swarm Gallery, San Francisco. Photo credit: Moe Beitiks.

There’s no doubt that the bond between culture and environmental sustainability is a strong one. Arts and culture organizations have the power to incite a positive public response to ecological sustainability. Arts organizations in Ontario and beyond are integrating innovative ways to cut down on their carbon foot print and establish a greener culture inside and outside their creative walls.

In celebration of Earth Day, here’s a list of our favourite Green Resources from ArtsBuild’s Resource Library that might just inspire your organization’s next green project.

Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art. This compelling book introduces a new generation of international artists who combine the concepts of sustainable design and contemporary art. Paul A. Kay, Chair of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo, notes in his review that the book itself is made with paper certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and its inks are soy-based. He writes that “in addition to the 20-plus pieces described, the book itself and the museum spaces that house the exhibition represent a commitment to ‘green-ness.’” If you’re looking for insight on how to take a creative approach to greening your space, this book should be next on your reading list.
Read more:

Going Green on a Nonprofit Budget. We like this presentation so much because it clearly spells out the environmental and financial benefits of switching over to green operations. Plus, donors want to support nonprofit organizations that take a proactive lead on environmental stewardship.
Read more:

Artscape Wychwood Barns Green Design. When Artscape imagined the transformation of Wychwood Barns, they envisioned an environmentally sustainable facility. They restored a century old street car repair station, and designated heritage site, into the multi-faceted cultural hub for artists, nonprofits, and other culture groups that it is today. Some ecological sustainable features include geothermal heating, storm water harvesting and re-use system, energy efficient lighting and water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Read more on this unique culture spot’s green story here:

Sustainable and Maintainable: Achieving Two Goals.  As your organizations starts to take infrastructural steps toward energy conservation, it’s good to know what projects to take on and what questions to ask during the process. This article tackles the two sided spectrum of maintaining sustainable buildings as well as focuses on HVAC systems and building automated systems. It also offers some good insights into LEED certification projects.
Read more:–14686?source=next

Is your arts organization thinking about taking on an energy conservation project? ArtsBuild will be announcing its next energy conservation initiative in just a few weeks, so stay tuned for updates!


Announcing our new Executive Director and SpaceFinder Hamilton

ArtsBuild Ontario is thrilled to both welcome Karen Stintz as our new Executive Director and announce the expansion of our successful SpaceFinder program into Hamilton with partner CoBALT CONNECTS.

karen stintzThe Board of ArtsBuild Ontario is excited to welcome former Toronto Transit Commission Chair and Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz as its next Executive Director. ArtsBuild Ontario is the only organization in Ontario dedicated to providing long-term solutions for building, managing and financing sustainable creative spaces such as theatres, galleries, concert halls and museums in Ontario communities.

“I’m very excited to be joining ArtsBuild Ontario and to have an opportunity to contribute to the arts community, particularly in an area where my expertise from government can be a great asset,” says Karen Stintz. “When we talk about support for the arts, the importance of local arts facilities doesn’t often make it into the conversation – but they’re a tremendously important part of bringing the arts into communities across Ontario.”

Karen comes to ArtsBuild Ontario with a wealth of management and leadership experience from both the public and private sectors. In addition to serving as the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, North America’s third-largest public transit system, she has years of experience in the public and private sectors, managing and delivering innovative multi-partner programs.

“At ArtsBuild Ontario we’re working to enable creative centres to not only succeed, but thrive. That’s why I’m very pleased to announce today that through our continued partnership with Fractured Atlas, and CoBALT Connects, we’ll be supporting the expansion of the acclaimed SpaceFinder system to Hamilton, Ontario. This is an important next step to the tremendous success of SpaceFinder Toronto,” adds Karen.

SpaceFinder is a first-of-its-kind free online service that enables artists and event planners to find, schedule, and rent available rehearsal , performance and special event space based on a wide range of needs, including date, time, cost and location. When it launched in Toronto in 2014, it was the first service to offer a large-scale solution for both venues and renters by matching artists with unused rehearsal and performance space. SpaceFinder Hamilton will now help arts organizations in that city do the same thing.

“Fractured Atlas applauds ArtsBuild Ontario’s vision for leveraging SpaceFinder to serve Canada. Together we are empowering communities to bypass expensive technology builds, and jump to delivering a valuable service to artists and cultural venues,” says Adam Huttler, Executive Director, Fractured Atlas.

SpaceFinder is one of a number of innovative tools and programs that ArtsBuild provides to arts organizations. In the coming weeks, ArtsBuild will launch additional new programming to support arts organizations and communities in building, managing and financing sustainable arts facilities.

Presenter Profile: Rick Gosine, VP Project Development and Marketing, The Dalton Company

Rick Gosine, VP Project Development and Marketing, The Dalton Company

Since our LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT workshop is led by four recognized topic experts, we thought you should get to know them.

Rick Gosine, Vice President of Development and Marketing at The Dalton Company, is the first presenter you’ll hear in our two day workshop. Rick offers his expertise on planning and executing building projects in his presentation Building New Facilities: Delivering Projects on Budget and on Time.

Rick has been with The Dalton Company since 1992, beginning his career with the firm as a project coordinator/estimator. His hands-on experience has given him a special expertise and understanding of the construction industry.

In his role as Vice President of Project Development and Marketing at the Dalton Company, Rick has responsibility for all strategy, development, partner relationships and go-to-market activities for Dalton’s portfolio of services. He is also responsible for the business development of building opportunities within institutional, public and commercial projects. Creating and sustaining close, valued client relationships is one of his primary goals.

plan it build it logo smallOne resource Rick refers to in his presentation is ArtsBuild Ontario’s step-by-step guide PLAN IT | BUILD IT, which breaks down planning and executing capital projects into manageable steps. It’s easy to use and intuitively takes users through each phase of their capital project so organizations can confidently move forward with their building projects.

The Dalton Company provides professional building services, which include all the functions needed to manage a project from beginning to completion. Their award-winning work includes the National Ballet of Canada, Roy Thomson Hall, the Granite Club and the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

You can hear Rick’s presentation at our next LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT workshop in Chatham-Kent at the Chatham Cultural Centre on March 23.

Read more about our LEARN IT | BUILD IT | MANAGE IT workshop series.

Some Love for SpaceFinder Toronto…

SFTO HeartIn the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing some of the reasons why we and our users LOVE SpaceFinder Toronto.

Greater revenue potential. “As we celebrate our 10th anniversary year as a self-sustaining research and performance space, SpaceFinder Toronto has increased our rentals by 25% in only a couple months and connected us with new renters from various artistic disciplines. SFT’s greatest asset is its fluid administration system, which has helped us cut back on our work load and allowed us to continue serving the artists of our community.” – Kate Nankervis, Co-Artistic Director, Hub14

Getting noticed and sharing resources. “SpaceFinder Toronto has been an unparalleled resource for Cahoots Theatre Company in getting our name out there and sharing our resources with not just the artistic community, but the broader community of Toronto as a whole. We’ve had more people walk through our doors and utilize the creation studio for a wide array of uses than we’ve seen in years – we are very grateful to be part of this excellent initiative bridging communities and reshaping the landscape of space for the greater public good.” – Jivesh Parasram, Creation Studio Facilitator, Cahoots Theatre Company

Over 150 search criteria. “We are loving SpaceFinder Toronto! Their database and search engine are great resources that help connect us with the customers who need exactly what we offer.” – Vikki Velenosi, Artistic Producer/Manager, The Box Toronto: Studio and Theatre

New audiences. “The Array Space provides an affordable home to a large arts community and it’s the space rentals that make this possible. SpaceFinder brings new people into our space… A few weeks ago a mother from Trinity Bellwoods rented The Array Space for her daughter’s ‘Sweet 16’ all-girl DJ party. They loved our great disc collection, dance floor, projectors and new theatre lights — and we loved the sweet neighbourhood hookup. Thanks SpaceFinder!” – Sandra Bell, General Manager, Array New Music Centre

SpaceFinder Toronto is a state of the art online venue finder that helps arts organizations showcase the venues they have available for rent, and helps renters of creative space easily find what they need.

If you’re interested in bringing SpaceFinder to your community, email Lindsay MacDonald, Director of Programs, at

How They Did It: Welland Museum Renovations


The staff at Welland Historical Museum will soon be cheering when all the paint and tools are put away. Renovating the 91 year-old heritage at 140 King Street building presented  some unexpected challenges and safety hazards, but the work is nearly done and you can preview the beautifully refurbished, bright Carnegie Gallery here. Grand re-opening celebrations are slated for sometime in 2015.

ArtsBuild contacted Welland Historical Museum staff to get a behind-the-scenes perspective on their renovations, and to share insights on the process of planning and executing a multi-phase capital improvement project. Read on to learn how Welland Museum planned and funded their project, who was involved, what types of contractors they needed, how they adjusted their plans when needed, and what advice they’d offer to other cultural organizations considering a capital project.

Jump to a topic:
– What changes were made
– Goals and benefits of the renovation
– How the building’s age affected the process
– Planning team, consultants, planning process
– Execution and obstacles
– Funding
– Advice for other organizations considering capital projects

What changes were made

Q: How extensive is this renovation? Tell us about some of the changes encompassed.
A: Quite extensive. It has included the following: removal of asbestos floor tiles in the archives which meant emptying the entire second floor of the building; new flooring in the main gallery space (that room also emptied); lighting retrofit with new track lights in gallery spaces on all three levels; freight elevator retrofit (to begin soon); new museum quality shelving in the second level archives. Unexpectedly we also had to rip out carpet in the lower level gallery due to flooding which meant the floor had to be scraped and painted. Other unplanned items included a collapsing floor in the furnace room hallway due to blocked hot water outlet from the steam boiler and other maintenance issues such as leaking eavestroughs damaging walls, roof repair, repainting, weatherstripping, etc.

Central archives area with carpet and shelving removed; almost ready for some paint on the walls.
Central archives area with carpet and shelving removed; almost ready for some paint on the walls.

Goals and benefits of the renovation

Q: What museum activities and goals will become possible thanks to this renovation?
A: Proper lighting of gallery spaces will enhance the overall look of the exhibits, protect the artefacts and combined with the new lighting in the office and storage spaces will save on hydro bills. Museum quality shelving will allow us to increase the capacity of our storage and assist with a better organizational system. The elevator retrofit will bring the current one up to code and allow persons to ride on the elevator instead of solely objects. Other repairs address long-standing maintenance issues.

Q: How will this renovation benefit your audience and the community more broadly?
A: Better lighting will enhance the exhibits making them more attractive to visitors. It means a more enjoyable visit to the museum with less glare and strain on the eyes of the public. The elevator repair will meet accessibility standards and allow volunteers and researchers to access the second level archives via the elevator if needed instead of walking a number of flights of stairs.

How the building’s age affected the process

Q: How has the building’s age and heritage designation influenced matters?
A: In this case the building’s heritage designation has provided little impediment to the project as the only renovations occurring in the heritage designated part of the building were minor (lighting retrofit and flooring). The age of the building and some original construction practices from the 1970’s have become major hurdles to the installation of the new shelving units requiring additional assessment and additional expense.

Elevator pistons ready for installation.
Elevator pistons ready for installation.

Planning team, consultants, planning process

Q: Who is on your planning team?
A: Museum Executive Director, Museum Curator, Museum Archivist, City of Welland staff, Welland Hydro and a Lighting System Consultant.

Q: What kind of consultants and contractors did you need for this project?
A: Lighting system consultant; electricians, environmental consultants and removal company (asbestos), elevator installation and repair company, structural engineers, general contractors, painters, flooring company, roofers.

Q: Give us an overview of your planning process. What were the main steps, goals, surprises and learning moments for you and your team?
A: As several of these initiatives were brought to us by outside agencies (Hydro, City) or forced on us by circumstances (elevator not being re-certified) the planning process grew organically. The three main projects – lighting, shelving and elevator – were originally the only projects planned but as the planning progressed other issues were added (i.e. need for asbestos remediation). This was all supposed to be completed between January and April of this year. The biggest surprises were the many unexpected issues that cropped up (i.e. asbestos, flooring issues with regard to the storage units) and the delays.

Floor being prepared for paint in lower level. New track lights in.
Floor being prepared for paint in lower level. New track lights in.

Execution and obstacles

Q: How’s the construction process going? Have you needed to make any adaptations to your plans during construction?
A: The lighting project had to be scaled back somewhat in order to meet the budget. The dust from the flooring project and tape on walls to hold the plastic sheeting necessitated unexpected repainting in some areas.

Q: Are things proceeding on time, as estimated?
A: Despite reassurances to the contrary, there have been many delays due to the product being unavailable, strikes, paperwork not completed, etc. The longest delay has been with the start of the elevator project – six months after the original start date. This has had a ripple effect on all aspects of our operations and on our planned re-opening date.


Q: How is this project funded?
A: The lighting project was funded by the City of Welland with incentives from Welland Hydro. The elevator is funded by the City of Welland with a $50,000.00 grant from the Federal Government Enabling Accessibility Fund. The shelving project is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Department of Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program. Other maintenance and repairs were funded by the City of Welland. Some painting will be funded by the Museum.

Q: Was this project part of any other initiative, for example, a municipal culture plan, economic development initiative, or brownfield redevelopment?
A: The lighting project was part of an energy saving project by the City of Welland for all municipal facilities that was initiated by Welland Hydro who also provided monetary incentives.

Painting an archival room (July 18)
Painting an archival room (July 18)

Advice for other organizations considering capital projects

Q: What advice would you give to other facility managers when considering capital projects?
A: Always leave more time for the renovations than estimated by the consultant and contractors. If the estimate is x amount of time, double that estimate at the very least or triple it. Know as much as you can about your building before initiating any renovation project. A structural engineering assessment in advance is always a good idea. Be prepared to supervise contractors and answer questions and act as a liaison with those supervising for the municipality as you will be the person on site all the time. No matter who is funding the project, allow a “cushion” in your own budget for unexpected expenses.

Do you have a recent or ongoing capital project that you’d like to share? Contact Natalee.

For help with planning maintenance, renovation and building, see our step-by-step guide, PLAN IT | BUILD IT, and ArtsBuild’s Resource Library of case studies, templates, reports, videos, and podcasts about sustaining creative spaces.