Toronto Artscape Inc. has begun dividing up its assets and operations as it prepares to enter receivership, handing oversight of its community hubs and rental housing space for artists to related non-profits.
Artscape, itself a non-profit, had been closely identified with Toronto’s art community for three decades before it announced this summer that it had become insolvent and expected to enter receivership. Many of its facilities are leased, not owned. In a late-Thursday letter to tenants, Artscape chief operating officer Kelly Rintoul said that, subject to final negotiations, the organization’s management contracts and leases for these sites would be excluded from the receivership process and transferred elsewhere.
A new non-profit, ArtHubs Toronto Inc., will use funding from the city of Toronto and private donors to take over operations at the sites, including Artscape’s studio hub, Artscape Gibraltar Point, on the Toronto Islands; its Regent Park community arts centre, Daniels Spectrum; and its Wychwood Barns facility, which houses events, live-work studios and non-profit groups.
Toronto spokesperson Eric Holmes said that the city had given Artscape $250,000 in September to ensure it could continue serving tenants and providing services, and that the city is looking into providing further funding to “support continued work toward a sustainable solution to protect the needs of tenants, preserve services, and manage city assets.” Artscape said that this and the donor funding would be working capital for ArtHubs’ first year of operations, with more details to be announced later.
Artscape is one of Toronto’s best known arts organizations. It grew from a provider of affordable studios and apartments for artists in the eighties and nineties into a prominent arts-hub manager and co-developer in the 2010s. But in recent years, Artscape has experienced financial turmoil. The organization has accumulated significant debt that it has struggled to pay. It announced in late August that it expected to hand away its assets.
ArtHubs Toronto lists Artscape’s chief executive, Grace Lee Reynolds, its chief operating officer, Ms. Rintoul, and its chief financial officer, Martin Seaton, as directors. The new non-profit’s headquarters is listed as an office on the city’s waterfront that also houses Artscape Daniels Launchpad, the artist-entrepreneurship centre that Artscape listed for sale last summer for $22.5-million as it sought to shore up its finances.
Artscape told The Globe and Mail in a statement that those executives would serve as directors only on an interim basis as it finalizes its succession plan, and that ArtHubs would replace them with a new slate of directors in the coming weeks.
Ms. Rintoul’s letter said Launchpad and several other Artscape-owned facilities across Toronto, including rental units in buildings such as Triangle Lofts, in the city’s West Queen West neighbourhood, would be part of the receivership process. The affordable shared-mortgage units in some Artscape buildings would be excluded from the receivership, she continued, adding that the new non-profit ArtHubs would support residents in those units until a new administrator was approved.
The letter also said that Artscape’s associated housing non-profit, Artscape Non-Profit Homes Inc., would take over operations of all of Artscape’s rental-housing sites. Artscape Non-Profit Homes already ran Artscape’s social-housing operations at Wychwood Barns and a Queen Street West location, and will now oversee other facilities, including the Parkdale Arts and Cultural Centre. WoodGreen Community Services is set to oversee management services on behalf of Artscape Non-Profit Homes.
“I was concerned, as a lot of artists were, that it might go to an organization that didn’t have an arts background, so this keeps it in good hands,” said Phil Anderson, the executive director of Gallery 1313, a tenant in the Parkdale Arts and Cultural Centre. “It seems secure and hopeful.”
Condo owners at Artscape Youngplace, a converted school building in the city’s west end, will vote this week on whether to transition the building’s property management services to ArtHubs. Triangle Lofts’ condo management services will be taken over by Management Professionals Realty Ltd., while the future of residential and community-facility operations at Artscape Weston Common is “under review,” Ms. Rintoul said.
No date has been announced for receivership to officially begin. “We expect to be advised of the relevant court date in the coming days,” Ms. Rintoul’s letter said, adding that her team expects more details some time in November.