“More and more, [SpaceFinder] is trying to get the word out that there is space available for artists that is actually for artists, created by artists and created with artists,” says Calgary Arts Development President & CEO Patti Pon. “It’s a tremendous thing, and I actually think it starts to get to what we’ve been hearing from all orders of government—that a creative Canada is how we’re going to make it in the future.”
Connecting people who need space with organizations who have space to rent, SpaceFinder Alberta is a free province-wide online marketplace geared towards artists, arts organizations, non-profits, community groups, and individuals.
Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces consultant at Calgary Arts Development, is thrilled with the response to SpaceFinder in Alberta.
“Our focus since launching in 2016 was getting venue operators to sign up their spaces and the response has been fantastic,” she says in a statement. “Of all the 25 regions in the US and Canada, Alberta has had the largest uptake for a SpaceFinder community. People seem to really understand that SpaceFinder is great for our communities. Now we want to make sure that everyone who needs to book a space knows that this wonderful free tool is here.”
Launched in partnership with Calgary Arts Development, ArtsBuild Ontario, Fractured Atlas, and Arts Habitat Edmonton in 2016, the platform has been expanding rapidly, adding listings in communities throughout the province thanks to support from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.
Voltage Creative was an early adopter of the platform, listing its first location in Marda Loop for the launch. Now, gearing up to open its doors in part of the former Shamrock Hotel, it takes the honour of having the 1,000th listing on the site.
Developing Hub Turns Hotel Annex into a Creative Family
Voltage Creative provides affordable rental studios and multi-purpose space for individual artists and the arts community. Revitalizing and repurposing unused buildings, collaborators Andrea Llewellyn, Kelly Johnsgaard, Ian Brooks, Cory Nespor, and Anna Hall are making final touches to its new home in the community of Ramsay.
Made up of long-term studios and an open space for hourly-rentals, the new space makes ready use of the hotel layout and will be open for bookings soon.
“We started this back in 2014,” says Llewellyn. “Now we’re here and we’ve got this great space that was part of the old Shamrock Hotel.”
Utilizing available resources and adding their own creative flare, the group has worked hard to build an environment that is complementary to how artists work.
“What we really love about this new space, which is a little bit different than our last one, [are the] private rooms,” continues Llewellyn. “The studios have bathrooms in each one because they are old hotel suites, so everyone has a sink. There’s lots of natural light, which is unusual in a lot of studio spaces you can get, and we don’t mind if you get messy because, eventually, this building will be gone. It’s on the green line path so in a couple of years it will go on its way but at the moment, it’s being used for a new life with a new purpose.”
For Anna Hall, having a studio in the space means more than just having a place to work, it’s a community.
“I find as an artist, I can be very hard on myself and I have cried many times on my studio floor when things aren’t going right,” she explains. “To be able to tap on the door and say, talk to [another artist] about something, is just going to be huge.”
“For me, I don’t even think of it as community—it’s family,” adds photographer Wyatt Bronson. “It’s this island of misfits, and we’ve all come in and found this space.”
Currently, Voltage Creative has three studios listed on SpaceFinder Alberta, each available April 1, as well as The Boutique, with additional availability to come.