Repurposing Schools as Cultural Spaces

Artscape hosts free webinar November 6 at 1 PM EST

TORONTO, Oct. 31, 2013 /CNW/ - A global leader in creative placemaking, Toronto's Artscape is hosting a free webinar on Repurposing Surplus Schools as Cultural Spaces on November 6th at 1 PM, Eastern Time. Leading the discussion are Celia Smith, Artscape Executive Vice President; Pru Robey, Director of Artscape's Creative Placemaking Lab; and Wendy Holmes, Senior Vice President, Consulting & Strategic Partnerships, Artspace USA. The session will feature short presentations by the panelists on unique approaches to the adaptive reuse of surplus schools for arts and cultural uses, followed by a facilitated discussion and Q+A session with webinar host Pru Robey. This webinar is open to all, and registration is available online at

In Canada, a school closes every week, and 175 schools in Ontario were declared surplus between the years of 2009 and 2012. Communities large and small in Canada and the US are facing the unique challenge of how to re-purpose school buildings that are often large, empty, and situated in residential locations. Artscape's Repurposing Schools webinar will outline examples, benefits and challenges of re-purposing school buildings, as well as addressing the essential role of partnerships and community engagement in the process of redevelopment.

"There has been an explosion of interest in the creative community's role in driving growth, change, transformation and the new economy. Many communities struggle with the challenge of translating the new interest in creative cities and economies into targeted strategies," said Pru Robey, Director of Artscape's Creative Placemaking Lab. "This webinar will answer the questions we hear most from city builders and practitioners."

Artscape has blazed trails in the adaptive reuse of schools — projects that present rich opportunities for communities across the country. Artscape Youngplace is the organization's latest project, and serves as a superb example of the vast potential that repurposed schools represent. After sitting vacant for more than a decade, the century-old former Shaw Street School (at 180 Shaw Street) has undergone a $17 million transformation to become a new community cultural hub opening to the public on November 19th. The reinvigoration of this 75,000 square foot community gem has taken many years and involved hundreds of stakeholders in a process that will ultimately deliver a facility designed to meet the community's needs and provide sustainable space for the arts, culture and creativity in Toronto's West Queen West neighbourhood.

Artscape Youngplace is the second repurposed school project in Artscape's portfolio, alongside Artscape Gibraltar Point, the former historic Toronto Island Public and Natural Science School. Both projects represent the revitalization of community gems and the important provision of creative space to support and enable local arts and culture. These repurposed school projects have mobilized the creative community, local residents, city-builders, public and private foundations, as well as philanthropists and corporations, resulting in a triple-win solution:

•     A win for the creative community in creating a mix of affordable spaces for arts and culture

•     A win for city-builders in addressing a development challenge in an innovative way

•     A win for past, present and future community members in preserving and enlivening a precious piece of shared heritage

This is the fourth in Artscape's series of free webinars presented in partnership with ArtsBuild Ontario exploring new approaches and models for the development of cultural space. Artscape is uniquely positioned to deliver these learning opportunities; with over 25 years of experience in creative placemaking to share, and growing a community of practice is central to its mandate. Collaborating with local partners and experts across Canada and the USA in this project has resulted in four exceptional learning opportunities for participants. The final installment addresses a topic of critical importance and great potential for engaging art, culture and creativity as catalysts for community vibrancy, sustainability, prosperity and inclusiveness.

Members of the media wishing to participate in the free webinar are asked to contact Barb Besner, Program Manager, Creative Placemaking Lab, at to receive a media registration and pre-webinar briefing.


Artscape Youngplace Media Backgrounder provides extensive information on the Artscape Youngplace project, and can be downloaded at

Artscape Gibraltar Point opened in 1999 after extensive community consultation. The case study of this project can be found at

Keywords/tags: Creative placemaking, arts and culture, Artscape Youngplace, Flex Studios, creativity, Toronto art scene, making space for creativity, 180 Shaw Street, revitalization, city-building

About the Presenters

Pru Robey joined Artscape in 2007 and takes the lead in new project research and development and major research initiatives. She led the research, partnership development and sector engagement process to build the vision and case for Daniels Spectrum, a cultural hub in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood, and is now leading Artscape's efforts to develop a major new facility to support creative sector entrepreneurship while also exploring the development community cultural resources in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods. Pru has advised communities across Canada on cultural facility development and strategies to support creative placemaking and directs a suite of programs and services at Artscape designed to build the capacity of communities to undertake creative placemaking projects.

Celia Smith joined Artscape in 2008 with overall responsibility for the areas of finance, communications, human resources, and fundraising through the Artscape Foundation. In addition to managing the ongoing operations of Artscape, she takes a lead role in current and future capital projects, particularly in the areas of fundraising, financing, budgeting, funding, legal, and management. She was lead project manager for the Artscape Triangle Lofts project, and was part of the management team for Daniels Spectrum and Artscape Youngplace. Prior to joining Artscape, Celia was the Executive Director of ArtsBuild Ontario, and spent 15 years at The Canadian Stage Company, ultimately as the General Manager. She has been a consultant in the areas of marketing, fundraising and strategic planning to small and large arts organizations across Canada.

Wendy Holmes grew up in Illinois and moved to Minnesota to attend Macalester College, from which she graduated cum laude with a BA degree in music. Before joining Artspace in 1999, she worked in the development departments of Minnesota Public Radio (1983-90), Walker Art Center (1990-92), Macalester College (1992-94) and the Science Museum of Minnesota (1994-99), where she co-directed a successful $100 million capital campaign for a new museum overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Saint Paul. As Senior Vice President for Consulting and Strategic Partnerships, Wendy oversees a staff of four that identifies new communities and new opportunities for arts-related real estate projects across the country. Wendy has become a national resource for information about urban redevelopment issues and has been interviewed by many local and national publications.

About Artscape

Artscape is a not-for-profit urban development organization that makes space for creativity and transforms communities.

Canada's leading practitioner in multi-tenant space development for the creative and cultural sector, Artscape develops and manages unique facilities that deliver sustainable and below-market production, rehearsal, exhibition and living space for creative practitioners, entrepreneurs and cultural organizations. Since 1986, we have helped to stimulate some of the city's most creative and vibrant neighbourhoods with dynamic community assets and cultural hubs such as Daniels Spectrum: a cultural hub in Regent Park, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Artscape Distillery Studios, Artscape Gibraltar Point and multiple projects in the thriving artistic communities of West Queen West and Parkdale.

Artscape is widely recognized as an international leader in creative placemaking, a practice that leverages the power of art, culture and creativity to catalyze change, growth and transformation of communities. Our success is driven by our ability to work effectively across disciplines to align values, leadership, investment and public policy. We work constantly to expand our portfolio, share our expertise and advance the field, offering training, mentoring and coaching, and learning opportunities through Artscape's Creative Placemaking Lab. Artscape offers countless tools, case studies and how-to guides on

For more information on Artscape visit

SOURCE: Artscape

For further information:

Media Contacts

Luisa Trisi, Big Picture Communications | / (416) 481-1161, (416) 456-0499

Liz Kohn, Director of Communications, Artscape | / 416-392-1038 x 25

Profil de l'entreprise


Renseignements sur cet organisme


Jetez un coup d’œil sur nos forfaits personnalisés ou créez le vôtre selon vos besoins de communication particuliers.

Commencez dès aujourd'hui .


Remplissez un formulaire d'adhésion à CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1-877-269-7890.


Demandez plus d'informations sur les produits et services de CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1‑877-269-7890.