Back to Basics Community Sustainability 

Escape to Artscape


Have you ever heard of the starving artist? Did you ever wonder how the phrase was coined? Arts and crafts aren’t free and for many artists it is their life, their passion and career. Many artists struggle to pay for the supplies that they need to form their creations. Artists sacrifice other materialistic aspects of their life including food and shelter in order to afford doing what they love. Artists have a passion with a message and a mission to fill the world with their conceptions.

And here in Toronto, we have stepped towards a solution known as Artscape. Artscape “is a not-for-profit, urban development organization that revitalizes buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities through the arts.” By revitalizing old buildings, incorporating sustainable living quarters with artistic workspace, Artscape provides artists with an affordable place to live and work.


Artscape has several spaces already functioning and four more being developed. One that Vidafine has recently visited was Artscape Wychwood Barns. To give you an idea of the concept behind Artscape, here is the story behind the Wychwood Barns. The Wychwood Barns used to be an old TTC streetcar repair barn. After the TTC no longer required its use, the building was left vacant until Artscape came along.

Artists no longer have to sacrifice their basic human needs in order to fulfill their passions. Though the application is about a year long process, a dedicated artist will see that it is a long term investment. There are 26 artists and their families currently residing here. We visited Deborah Sanderson this summer and saw what Artscape gave her – a place to live, create her jewellery and sell her craft.

Some Artscape locations are private and you may have to contact the tenants to find out about their hours of operation or to hold a private meeting. Others host large community events, like Wychwood’s year-round farmer’s market.


I have many artist friends and I sometimes worry that one day they may be forced to give up their passion in order to afford their basic needs, but with the growing Artscape I have no doubt that in the future they will be just fine. Artscape is a great idea, endorsed by many partners and investors, including the City of Toronto, and it’s not a growing trend that will disappear. If you’re an artist or non-profit organization looking for living space, workspace or office space, check out the Community section of the website to get all the info regarding criteria and the waitlist.

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