MAKING [creative] SPACE: Necessary Arts Company

Necessary Arts Company (NAC) arrived on the creative spaces scene two years ago in response to a need for more creative space in downtown Guelph. With steady growth, this collaborative co-working studio has made its mark in this city while providing accessible and affordable space to numerous local artists over the last two years. 

The dream to build Necessary Arts Company started when artists Cynthia Waldow and Frances Hahn met at their children’s nursery school at Norfolk Church, where Frances also had her painting studio.  The two were quick to embark upon their shared vision to create a place in Guelph that would provide space to support others on their creative pathways. In May 2013, they opened their doors, and they have not looked back since.

Cynthia WaldowCynthia Waldow at Necessary Arts Company, photo: Melissa Gobeil

In the early days, Cynthia and Frances toyed with the idea of storefront space, but due to the high market rates in downtown Guelph, as well as how much they were able to give in terms of time commitment to a street-level venture, they decided to keep an open mind as to where this new business venture would get its start.

This team knows themselves well, and understand that “it’s never going to be perfect”, so when a lower level suite in the newly renovated Gummer Building on Douglas Street became available they took the leap.

The first challenge that they set out to overcome was how to provide a light-filled experience for painters and other artists who insisted that natural light was an absolute must for them in considering new studio space.  With their eye on the prize, with Frances’ lighting design skills in their arsenal, as well as tons of time invested, they took on the mission to light the space in a way so that the absence of natural light would not be missed.


Photo: Necessary Arts Company

Their success has enticed numerous local artists and arts administrators including resident and co-working members Meredith Blackmore, Marnie Dallan, Garth Laidlaw, Katherine Matthews, Julia Foucault, Alisa McRonald, Karen Kesteloot and Jennifer Kyles to name a few. This duo has done an incredible work in transforming the raw, lower level space into such a bright, open, and inviting place to spend time creating and collaborating. 

When I ask Marnie Dallan, with paintbrush in hand, why she chose NAC, and she simply states, “I just like the feeling here.” For many artists and creatives, this above all else is what matters.  With a mission to provide space, support and inspiration for others who are taking the plunge into their creative pursuits, it is no surprise that so many local artists have come to call Necessary Arts Company home.

Meredith Blackmore1

Meredith Blackmore at Necessary Arts Company, photo: Melissa Gobeil

When I asked about how this business got its name, the answer was not what I had expected, and yet I completely understood.  The name, Necessary Arts Company was a labour of love, and much like crafting any new venture, it was born out of creating list after list until they arrived upon the perfect trilogy of words that best represented the work that they had set out to accomplish.

Frances Hahn

Frances Hanh at Necesary Arts Company, photo: Melissa Gobeil

Their fearlessness is something to be admired.  It has allowed them to test the market, adjust their ideas in real time, nimbly explore new approaches and because they are staying true to themselves, they are having a lot of fun along the way.

Frances and Cynthia have designed this company to provide them with the freedom that they need in their own lives, and yet they are as committed as ever to continue to keep their eyes open for opportunities for the growth of Necessary Arts Company.   With Culture Days events, Holiday Pop-up shows, openings and the Hoop-la Exhibition under their belts, these two are already always looking for their next collaborative project. 

Culture Days

Necessary Arts Company at Culture Days 2013

They feel passionately about being part of the community that will put Guelph on the map as a co-working hub, and would one day love to see the City of Guelph proudly boast this on its welcome portal to Guelph newcomers. 

Outside of their co-working business collaborations, Cynthia and Frances are also having fun under the project name “F. Walha” (a mash-up of their two names.) They have taken up the brush in this collaborative monthly painting challenge that allows them to explore new techniques while focusing on speed. Their most recent piece “Maybe Blush will take it” is a work in progress, and an expression of their combined lightness of being, that has created a wonderful and welcoming place for others to explore and to freely take the creative plunge. 


For more information about this creative space contact:

Necessary Arts Company
5 Douglas Street, Unit B1
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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