Collaboration, creative thinking bring art to vacant space in Downtown Yonge

TORONTO, June 12, 2014 /CNW/ - The desire to repurpose vacant space in the rapidly-changing Downtown Yonge neighbourhood is behind a creative collaboration launching this weekend.

A group of artists will be transforming a 4,000 sq.ft. space, once used as a massage parlour, into a pop-up gallery and exhibition at Yonge and Gerrard Streets, for the month of June.

Entitled Out of Pocket, the exhibition will focus on the functional history and physical characteristics of the space, with 30 artists exhibiting their work.

"Finding out-of-the-box ways to use community engagement and collaboration to repurpose vacant space is a core mandate of our work," says Mark Garner, executive director of the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (DYBIA), which played a role in facilitating the pop-up.

The collaboration involved a number of key stakeholders.

First, a landlord willing to provide the space.

Broker Cory Rosen of Goudy Real Estate - a supporter of the BIA's active retail recruitment program - agreed to consider a pop-up tenant at 1 Gerrard Street West.

The space is located in a heritage building on the corner of this fast-growth intersection, opposite Aura, the tallest condo development in Canada.

While the building is well-located, second-storey space is often more challenging to lease, explains Rosen.

"Both the landlord and I were willing to look at new ways to showcase the space, and present it in a new light," he adds.

Second, a user that could use and transform the space into something completely different.

Enter Ghazaleh Etezal, the entrepreneur behind Vacantful.com, an online service facilitating short-term endeavours in vacant spaces.

"I was aware of an artist collective looking for a pop-up gallery space for June, and thought this might be a good fit," says Etezal.

Carrier Arts Organization, a nomadic artist-run organization focusing on programming exhibitions locally and abroad, viewed the space shortly thereafter and decided to secure it for their exhibition.

"When they saw the space, they knew it was the right one," adds Etezal.

Third, a group of sponsors willing to support a pop-up gallery: Office of the President at OCAD University (OCADU); Faculty of Drawing & Painting at OCADU; and Steamwhistle Brewery, as well as Vacantful.com and Downtown Yonge B.I.A..

Thirty artists will be exhibiting at the gallery, which is open from June 14 to 21.

The exhibition will be open to the public on Saturday June 14 and Saturday June 21, 2014 from 12 noon to 5p.m. as well as by appointment.

"We have a range of opportunities in Downtown Yonge at both street-level and on second and third storeys, and we will continue to seek creative solutions to using space," adds Garner.

SOURCE Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area

For further information:

Mark Garner     
Executive Director & Chief Staff Officer
Downtown Yonge B.I.A.
Direct: 416.597.0255 x225
Email: mgarner@downtownyonge.com     

Ghazaleh Etezal
Executive Director
Vacantful
Mobile: 647.261.5201
Email: space@vacantful.com

Cory Rosen     
Goudy Real Estate Corp., Brokerage 
Direct/Mobile: 416.523.7749
Email: crosen@rogers.com 

Sarah Turner 
Carrier Arts Organization
Email: carrier.arts.organization@gmail.com