Public consultation for the future of St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
Toronto City Council has “endorsed the replacement of St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts with a new reimagined centre that is a state-of-the-art cultural and civic hub for the city’s creative communities and the community at large.”
The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts redevelopment project is a longer-term infrastructure stimulus project that aligns with the mayor’s plan for recovery. The current investment in the project is minimal and focused on community consultation and planning, and doesn’t draw from much-needed immediate recovery funding. The project will deliver on four main pillars highlighted in the report from the cultural roundtable for the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Support and Recovery:
1. Provide equitable and inclusive access;
2. Invigorate the arts and culture work force;
3. Provide 21st century digital infrastructure; and
4. Strengthen a diverse neighbourhood.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for better digital tools for arts organizations across the city. STLC will be the first digitally enhanced 21st century facility in the country that will capture livestreaming, recording, and broadcasting.
STLC is in a poor state of disrepair and is not AODA compliant. The building condition audit estimates over $40 million worth of repairs and needed AODA fixes. The current building has not kept current with industry-wide standards, is inaccessible, and lack of public space. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need to not only assist the recovery of the arts and culture sector but to invest in the City asset to redefine its use for the community and the city at large.
The newly imagined STLC will answer the long-term goal of providing an accessible, uniquely flexible civic cultural centre with plenty of public spaces that will serve the broad cultural sector and serve the neighbourhood and communities of Toronto. The consultation was designed to determine the community’s needs and create a business plan that will meet these needs. A key focus of the consultation was making sure STLC can provide space, diverse programming, and access to the arts while being financial sustainable.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA)
We recognize the importance of bringing inclusion, diversity, equity, and access into every area of the STLC redevelopment project.
On September 15, 2020, Dr. David Mowat and Saäd Rafi submitted their report COVID-19 Impacts and Opportunities to the City of Toronto. The report contains a series of recommendations to focus the City’s recovery and rebuilding efforts, including applying an equity lens to place-making.
The authors note that “various governments have recognized that investments in infrastructure will be critical for Toronto’s and Canada’s recovery to COVID-19. Any stimulus funding for infrastructure should support Toronto’s effort to build back better and prioritize investments that support key priorities–all through an equity and resilience lens.”
We support this vision and commit to a public consultation process that is transparent, respectful, and welcoming to all, with a focus on engaging underrepresented communities.
TO Live and CreateTO were directed to engage in a public consultation process to reimagine STLC and report back to City Council with a building program, business model, and funding strategy to support an inclusive and visionary civic solution.
KerrSmith, an independent third-party facilitator, assisted in developing and executing a community engagement, facilitation, and communication strategy that would help the public understand the process for this project. Feedback received through this process will support the creation of a vision, design principles, and design brief that will inform the building program.
TO Live is in a key position to help in the recovery of both the arts and culture sector and the economy at large as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on restoring, rebuilding and reimagining the city. This is a very timely opportunity to start a transformational project that will excite the cultural community and stimulate the local economy and neighbourhood businesses, creating a cultural corridor from Yonge to Parliament streets.
For more information about the City Council decision, please refer to the staff report: