Community Arts – There IS Art After Gentrification!
When I was in my 20's, I dreamed of becoming a famous artist, and landing that proverbial NYC gallery gig. As I gained more insight into the art world and became more connected with local artists in group shows, my focus on stardom faded and I became more entrenched in "real life" with artists who were not "famous" but nonetheless happy and creative within their own community. Eventually, I too became a community artist. A vibrant local arts scene can really enrich and add financial and cultural value to any neighbourhood. As we all know, many “gentrified” neighbourhoods, like Greenwich Village and even our own Yorkville, were at one time hubs for the poor and creative. While this idea appeals to my bohemian sensibilities, I feel sad for anybody being driven out of a neighbourhood because of skyrocketing rent. The fallout of gentrification often means we lose a lot of the flavour, individuality and creativity in a community, as corporate business slowly takes over the mom n’ pop shops.
This has happened in my community of Bloor West Village near High Park. Once a vibrant village with Eastern European heritage, it’s now populated by chain stores with only a few of the original mom n’ pop shops remaining. Independent businesses have a difficult time flourishing because of the rental rates, which I am told are higher than Yorkville! This is why it is important to support local business and community arts, to preserve community heritage and keep local arts alive. For over 20 years, my community arts group, the ArtTour Collective, has celebrated our local artistic talent by organizing an annual studio tour that invites the public to come out and see the work of community artists in different locations, including private studios and local store fronts that span across the west Toronto communities of Bloor West Village, Baby Point and The Junction.
I’ll be exhibiting in my studio and garden. Click here to see the video I made about how my 72 year old Mother and I converted our old garage into a cool new studio space on a budget of $700.
Feel free to come and visit me on the Tour the weekend of June 1-3, 2018. For more info about our 21st Art Tour, go to www.arttourcollective.com.