A project helmed by an urban development coalition is gaining traction in Toronto, where the steady growth of real estate prices is pushing out an ever-larger number of potential residents.
Among the hardest hit by the ballooning costs are full-time artists, which tend to have irregular incomes and thus often have to resort to moonlighting in other fields.
“It’s always a struggle,” goldsmith and jewelry designer Hannah Cowan told the Toronto Star. “Business can be really great for a couple months and then just nothing.”
To the rescue is Artscape, which operates five buildings across the city to accommodate artists and other creative professionals who do not have the means to shell out the exorbitant costs demanded by the high-priced downtown area.
“We know that artists are also fundamental instigators of place, of quality of life, of conversations around acceptance and well-being, and bring much more than just a pretty painting on the wall,” Artscape spokesperson Liz Kohn said.
Tenants are selected from a centralized waiting list, and successful applicants are evaluated by a peer committee that looks into educational attainment and presentation history.
“So they’re not looking at a painting or a play or anything like that, they’re looking at their C.V.,” Kohn stated.
The project is just one part of a growing affordable-housing movement that has been hailed by artists and city officials alike. Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher, who advocated a similar proposal around five years ago, pointed at creatives as a sector that needs particular attention in light of Toronto’s blooming art scene.
“I think maybe we need to revisit how we’re going to build on a smaller scale, and get in the market for artists’ housing,” Fletcher said. “Now we’re into times that are a little leaner, it’s hard to find the point where you could make that happen.”