As many of you know, Guelph has long explored the idea of a multi-purpose arts facility. This concept has taken many different forms. With each iteration, those spearheading the project have tried to address different needs that have been expressed by the many artists and arts organizations in our community. In each of these scenarios, one of the major challenges has been to coordinate logistics while strategically raising the funds needed to tackle such a massive undertaking. Key to this struggle is creating a safe, accessible, and affordable space for artists and community members.
Guelph Arts Council’s Creative Spaces Project was developed to help address the community need for a multi-use arts space to exist. This has been a long standing goal of the arts council and even dates back to our inception as an organization in 1975. With several successes under our belt, Guelph Arts Council has worked to further this goal and over the course of the last 24 months, we have actively been researching sites and pursuing properties that would bring us one step closer to furthering this goal.
Guelph Arts Council has spent a substantial amount of time, effort, and resources looking at and researching potential permanent spaces. In the last six months, we have focused our attention on a particular location which, in the end, did not meet our need for safe, affordable, accessible space that would appeal to a broad range of users and community members. In talking to community stakeholders, it has become abundantly clear that the issue of finding a space that meets these criteria is a wide-spread and systemic issue that is larger than we could have imagined. Accessing affordable spaces in Guelph that meet accessibility and safety requirements is a problem that affects those working in the arts as well as those in other industries, sectors, and areas.
As a charitable non-profit, we owe it to the community to continue this search and look for ways to partner with other agencies, businesses, and sectors to make this dream a reality. This also includes strengthening our relationship with the municipality as they too are a key stakeholder in ensuring the health and well-being of the arts and culture community as well as supporting the development of the creative industries and the many small arts related businesses that propel Guelph’s local economy forward.
In addition to our search for a physical space, the Creative Spaces Project has explored and discovered that to many in our community, ‘creative spaces’ means so much more than the development of a new building or physical location. For many, it means supporting and highlighting the resources and spaces that are already available in our community. For others, the development of ‘creative spaces’ means building more virtual/online spaces and re-invigorating under-utilized spaces that may be currently used by other sectors or for other purposes.
For Guelph Arts Council, we would like to see the idea of ‘creative spaces’ emerge with a far bigger and broader definition for our arts community. Rather than developing one new space, Guelph Arts Council will continue to pursue an open dialogue with our community to address the needs of our artists and organizations in bite-sized pieces. This includes highlighting and profiling existing spaces and being open to new opportunities that support our long term goal of addressing the need for a community space.
As an organization, we are committed to strengthening our network of partners to develop solid funding streams that will allow us to be nimble and responsive to the needs of our community, and to take advantage of the opportunities that arise and fit within our mandate. With your ongoing support, we look forward to continuing on this exciting journey of making our city one of Canada’s great creative communities.
Guelph Arts Council Executive on behalf of the Guelph Arts Council Board of Directors