Pink Alley opens

It was a colourful and lively celebration at The Pink Alley on Wednesday, when Frontlines opened their new outdoor space at 1804 Weston Rd.

I was excited to see this new public space come alive. There were activities for kids out back, and I had a chance to meet some of the impressive youth outreach staff and tour the new restaurant space and the teen lounge. I also enjoyed the free tropical ice cream.

Well done Noami Frederick, Harley Valentine of Castlepoint Numa, and your teams! 

Alley 1804?

Can this forgotten alley be transformed into a vital and thriving space for Weston?

That’s the goal of Harley Valentine, a renowned sculpture artist familiar with re-imagining public spaces.

Harley is also a managing partner at Castlepoint Numa, the developer working with the Weston Park Baptist Church to re-imagine the corner at Weston and Lawrence Ave.

When I heard he was all excited about an alley at 1804 Weston Rd, next to the new Frontlines location, I had to find out why. Harley explained, “I want to deliver maximum community benefit from Weston’s unexpected and forgotten spaces.” He went on to say that he hopes to inspire others to see potential in the smallest opportunities.

So, what could happen at the Alley 1804? (That’s my name for it, let’s see if it sticks)

He’s working with community leaders, youth, and neighbourhood officers from Division 12 to create a space where Frontline’s youth programs could expand.

And, it could also be a performance space, an outdoor patio for local food outlets, or a gallery for Weston’s artists. Harley’s list of ideas is endless. Safety will be paramount; the location would be gated after-hours. But imagine a space filled with energy, creativity, engaging art, twinkle lights and laughter?

I’m looking forward to seeing Harley Valentine’s magic at work! His enthusiasm for Weston is enough to inspire any community. I’m happy to hear he’s fallen in love with Weston.

Weston Artists’ Good Food Market

From humble beginnings great things are possible.

That’s my take on the launch of the Weston Artists Good Food Market at the Weston Common.

This exciting weekly summer event is focused on making fresh produce accessible to our community, at cost. One neighbour was so surprised when her large bag of produce came to $3.75, that she handed over a $5 bill and asked if she could just donate her change to the cause.

Philip Sutherland, the organizer, said the fresh fruit is popular—fresh raspberries, blueberries, and mangoes went fast. (They’ll have more next week.) He added that the Artists’ booth was postponed due to windy conditions, but it’ll be back soon. And he hopes to hear from more local artists, bakers, butchers, chefs and cooks who want to be a part of the Wednesday market.

But there’s more to this event than affordable produce. It’s organized by a few of the artists living in our community. They have brought their friends from Collective Arts Brewing along, selling some of the most original craft beer, sparkling teas, cider, and bitters I’ve ever seen.

The labels are adorned with literal art from unknown and emerging artists. The two staffing the booth were thrilled to be discovering Weston, “all the neighbours are so friendly and happy to see us…and we’re busier here than we are at our other two markets.” They’ve applied to be a part of the Weston Farmers’ Market starting Saturday June 5th.

This event is organized by the West Toronto Photography Club and sponsors like Access Community Capital Fund (a non-profit that makes small loans for people with big ideas).

The Artists’ Market is every Wednesday from 3pm–6pm until September 1st.

Stream Messiah starring Weston’s Elliot Madore

Weston’s own Elliot Madore will be performing in an online Messiah, which is streamable until January 7.

The show is produced by Against The Grain Theatre, and it looks great. The producers say it is a “truly cross-Canada performance — in Arabic, Dene, English, French, Inuktitut, and Southern Tutchone, and accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra”.

Tickets are pay-what-you can (including free).

And I could be mistaken, but I think I see the Weston Lions Arena in the trailer.

Thanks to L for the tip!

Some Artscape tenants withholding rent

On April 1, some Artscape tenants didn’t pay their rent because of the COVID pandemic, according to CTV.

 A group of artist tenants at apartment building and cultural hub in the city’s Weston neighbourhood say that they plan to jointly withhold rent this week amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted their livelihood.

In a news release issued early Monday morning, the tenants said that they have reached out to their landlord about their situation and have been told that they can defer half of their April rent on request and then pay the balance owing off over a six-month period starting May 1.

The CEO of Artscape was interviewed by NOW Toronto. He said,

“Like our tenants, we’ve also been affected by the crisis,” Artscape CEO Tim Jones tells NOW. “We’ve laid off 54 staff members. We are doing everything we can to provide as much support as we can to them and to tenants. We’re reaching out to all of our lenders, talking to suppliers and organizing advocacy efforts with the federal government…. If there’s a suggestion that we’re not trying to be helpful, it’s just not the case. Unfortunately, as a nonprofit there are constraints.”

 

UrbanArts update

UrbanArts has started posting online programming until we’re all ready to get back to work. Some of the programming has included:

New arts activities are posted every day on their Facebook page.

Artscape hits hard times.

Artscape Weston (file).

Artscape has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. As of March 16th they closed all community hubs for three weeks including Weston and according to nowtoronto.com laid off 54 staff members. On top of that, artists at the 34 John Street Weston Hub live / work spaces are feeling the pinch of cancelled gigs and will not be paying rent when it comes due tomorrow. Non-profit Artscape told tenants that they could defer paying half of their April rent but artists have issued a press release stating that they won’t pay anything at all.

Since the closure is likely to continue far beyond April 6, and with revenues dwindling, Artscape may soon be scrambling for its own existence.

Read more here and here.