Friday, April 6, 2012


The unique aspect about developing artist live-work spaces in Ottawa (and probably elsewhere) is that the location has to be zoned for both commercial and residential. In 2011, City Council approved the Arts and Heritage 5-year Renewal Plan which supports the development of Artist Live-Work spaces as a Pilot Project. Further, this type of live-work space for artists rated as one of the top-four priorities by participants of the City organized November 2011 Open Ottawa Libre City (OOL). At this meeting, I volunteered to organize the first information meeting which we held March 14. The next Visioning meeting is April 11, 2012, working with a certified professional facilitator. Essentially, those who attended the first meeting are a combination of potential users and/or committed to the concept.

While the concept is a true innovation for Ottawa, there are many economically successful artist live-work properties throughout Toronto and Vancouver. In the case of Toronto Artscape it is an arms-length type of corporation with the City of Toronto. It plays an interface role between artist users, developers, funding agencies and governments. Check it out. 

Where do we start in Ottawa? I propose Ottawa needs a not-for-profit arms-length Artist Live-Work Development Corporation with paid professional employees to find and work with a developer, City staff, community groups, architects, funding agencies, etc, etc.  Artist-users are already overloaded with all the aspects of their business of art, nor do they necessarily have the skills and professional contacts to bring the project to fruition. Their commitment is demonstrated by organizing and attending monthly meetings to discuss their needs and aspirations. They could provide input to an arms-length interface corporation toward fruition of projects.

Toronto Artscape, which is this type of interface non-profit corporation, has put their DIY (do-it-yourself) step-by-step information on their website. In my opinion, key professional players in Ottawa need to cooperate to incorporate such a not-for-profit organization to develop turn-key-like artist live-work properties while consulting with artist-user groups.

It amazing to me, now that I'm looking, how many possible property types there are in Ottawa, ranging from reclaimed abandoned city owned buildings to new high-rise developments. 

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