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Artscape Launchpad Using Collaboration to Push Creative Boundaries

Toronto’s newest creative production and coworking space is breaking down barriers and bringing creators together.

We’ve proudly partnered with Artscape Daniels Launchpad, a new collaborative hub for creative entrepeneurs of all disciplines. We sat down with Carmen Douville and Leesa Butler to talk about what Launchpad hopes to change about the way creators work both in Toronto and the creative community as a whole.

Artscape has been a Toronto staple for over 30 years, building community cultural hubs, live/work studios, galleries, and other facilities to support artists—all under the umbrella of what the non-profit calls “creative placemaking.” The idea for Launchpad came to fruition after 12 years of research around why the people Artscape had been supporting weren’t thriving in their creative practices.

“After over a decade of research and identifying where the real challenges were,” Butler said, “we had identified there were a lot of pieces that work individually: maker spaces, entrepreneur spaces, creative hubs. We thought once these fractured pieces were put all together under one roof it could really help drive a difference. Members would get affordable access to the creative community’s support resources, coaching and mentoring, as well as access to studios and equipment all under one roof.”

One big hope for Launchpad is to get creatives talking to—and working with—each other. “No matter what discipline you’re from, you’re going to meet like-minded creators, and that’s where the magic happens,” Douville told us.

“The goal with Launchpad was to take close to 20 creative disciplines and throw them under one roof and see what happens,” Butler added. “With the membership, regardless of where they are in their career—out of school and no clear direction, mid-career, or established—a lot of them feel siloed in their work, putting these creatives under one roof to mix, collaborate, and cross-pollinate.”

Launchpad is also solving a rising issue for creators: the steady decline in affordable studio space. “Launchpad came to fruition because of the housing challenges in the ’80s, so it’s interesting to see the challenge creatives are currently facing,” said Douville. “Houses are now closets and creatives are being forced out of studios that they’ve had for a year—or maybe decades due to skyrocketing rents. There is a huge need for this collaborative space. Look at recent grads. We train these amazing creatives for two to five years and it’s not like they have $20-50,000 to rent space and buy equipment.”

But Launchpad is about more than just providing a physical space. Butler, as the director of sales and membership, oversees the membership team, which plays the role of a coach for members. “With every member, we get an understanding of where they are in their career and some of the challenges they’re facing. As coaches, we act as something between a concierge and a guidance counselor. We support them with tactical things like how to book time in a studio, but we also really understand their creative process and help fill the gaps. We help with opportunities like corporate partnerships, finding a mentor, finance, subject matter, legal, accounting—the sort of fundamental business challenges any entrepreneur would face.”

Butler explained Launchpad’s annual memberships are designed to allow the team to work with these creators over a period of time to see where they need help and what other services can be brought to the table, not just within Launchpad but in Toronto, Canada, and the global creative community.

Some of those opportunities come via partnerships with companies like Apple, Adobe, Format, and The Weeknd’s HXOUSE, with whom Launchpad has worked to create an incubation program for very select students at George Brown College’s School of Design. All Launchpad members also receive access to a one-year Pro plan with Format.

To learn more or apply for a Launchpad membership, visit their website.

Photos by Gabby Frank

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