Shared Vision with the Community

Artscape Youngplace opened to the public in November 2013. This is the story of how it came to be, with the input of the community.

The building of Artscape Youngplace was, for most of its history, a public school. In 2000, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) shut down the school at 180 Shaw Street and transferred the school’s operations to the neighbouring Givins/Shaw Public School. The building sat empty until 2006, when the Toronto District School Board hired Artscape to conduct a feasibility study of its potential reuse. This study, which included extensive community consultation, demonstrated strong community support for re-purposing the site as community cultural hub. It indicated that cultural assets, heritage preservation, environmental leadership, educational programming and community partnerships could be brought together in a unique way to transform the Shaw building into a dynamic hub of creative activity and learning.

After the feasibility study process, we began a series of consultations that engaged a broad range of community stakeholders to generate a new vision for the building that integrated creativity, community and learning. Five focus groups held between 2006 and 2007 made up a large part of this consultation phase. In these focus groups, participants discussed the overall study process as well as their perceptions of priorities, opportunities, challenges and concerns with the building’s potential re-purposing. This process led to the articulation of several common themes:


The re-developed Shaw Street School will be a place where…
  • A passion for learning is fueled by arts and culture
  • Ideas are cultivated through commitment to openness, diversity and tolerance
  • Connectivity fostered through a strong sense of community interaction
  • Environmental stewardship is encourage through innovative design and operations
  • Identity is reflective of the Queen West artistic ethos
These characteristics will be nurtured through a program of spaces that…
  • Facilitates collaboration, experimentation and cross-pollination
  • Respect and enhance the heritage integrity of the building
  • Are shared, safe, accessible and inspiring
  • Respect the flexibility required for the creative process
  • Generate opportunities for community engagement

Artscape proposed the Founding Vision for the Shaw Street Centre based on these shared themes. In December 2010, Artscape concluded its purchase of the Shaw Street School from the TDSB and the Toronto Lands Corporation.

Today, Artscape holds a majority equity position in the building legally owned by Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2397 (“TSCC 2397”, carrying on business as “Artscape Youngplace”).  TSCC 2397 is governed by a Board of Directors, composed of members designated by Artscape and other equity stakeholders, each of whom owns a percentage interest in the property.  Artscape oversees and delivers the physical property maintenance and upkeep and ensures that the community vision for the building is upheld in its operations.

Artscape Youngplace balances the needs of the arts community with the needs of the local community, to achieve this shared vision.

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