Lack of affordable studio space is an age old issue that artists everywhere face and Waterloo Region is no exception to this. Many artists work from makeshift studio spaces, often in their own homes and usually in solitary environments. The Art Incubate pilot project (an Art$Pay initiative) aims to provide a solution to this by offering local visual artists studio space and an opportunity to collaborate and engage with the community. This is in line with Art$Pay's mandate to connect visual art practitioners with opportunities, community, and to advocate for fair pay.
Two properties at 52 and 56 Regina Street North in Uptown Waterloo have been donated by HIP Developments for a two year period. HIP Developments is a Waterloo based real estate developer that is committed to actively participating in developing creative neighbourhoods, culture and quality of life. The spaces act as studio and gallery space . The main floor of 56 Regina Street North serves as a visual arts incubator and studio space for young, emerging artists. Ioana Dragomir, Melika Hashemi, Tee Kundu, Steven Restagno, and Jessie Rowe are sharing the open concept studio for a 12-month term under a special sponsorship program made possible by local and regional government with corporate sponsors. Tenant artists in the upper floors of 52 and 56 Regina Street North are Marianne Bauer-Hiff, Anne Filiatrault, Susan Lewis, Marc Lambert, Raegan Little, Cate McGahey, Ross Pritchard, Trevor Waurechen, and Sharon Woodley. It's a good mix of artists at different stages in their careers. Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc. helped prepare the studios for occupancy. Additional sponsors of Art Incubate include the Region of Waterloo, City of Waterloo, City of Kitchener, Perimeter Development Corporation, and Miller Thomson LLP who will each support a young artist throughout their term. The program covers rent, a small stipend for art supplies, and payment towards an outreach activity.
Art$Pay is accepting applications and proposals from collectives, artist groups, organizations and individual artists who would like to use the galleries and meeting space at 52 and 56 Regina. Priority goes to AP members and to events that have a visual arts focus. Find out more about that here.
Artists started moving in on May 1, with the official launch being held on Friday, May 31st. I have a background in interior design and have always enjoyed getting the chance to look at how people live and work. I've been fortunate enough to make several studio visits with artists and to interview them in the space that they create. The first thing I noticed was the amazing natural light in all of the studios at 52 and 56 Regina. The next thing I noticed was the feeling of community between the artists. Susan Lewis has been painting for 30 years and has a home studio. She told me that it was nice to have a new space separate from her home studio and that getting this space has been a turning point in her career. She signed a four month lease and is already feeling that she wants to stay longer. When asked what she hoped to accomplish in her time at this new studio, she replied that she's going to dedicate herself to learning more about cold wax and oils, and just doing more art. Sharon Woodley, a recent AP member who also signed a four month lease spoke about the sense of community that quickly developed between the artists.
A steady stream of visitors made their way through both spaces and the overall feeling was one of excitement. I overheard many people talking about how an initiative like this is very much needed in the region. I look forward to making many more visits to 52 and 56 Regina and to seeing what the artists there accomplish over the next two years. Follow Art$Pay to stay up to date.
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Story and photos by Glodeane Brown