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MakeRoom creates space for artists at CSI (and beyond)!

MakeRoom Inc is a non-profit that reclaims lost space and creates physical space for creative output. Their Space Project enables artists to submit their work to an online platform which then gets projected on to partner gallery windows at night. CSI is thrilled to have recently become one of the venues for this project; we love seeing our windows come alive with art at night. To celebrate this new partnership, we have invited MakeRoom’s founder Trevor Twells to tell us a more about his work. This is what he told us.

My big dreams for MakeRoom Inc are twofold. The first is to provide space for artists’ work in places where they are either being driven out due to socioeconomic factors, or not welcome because of biases. The second is to become a source of income for artists, where they can make money just by exhibiting their work.

We are trying to enable artists to cross the numerous boundaries that impede them from showing their work. The average emerging artist usually can’t afford to exhibit their work without gallery representation which is hard to get. They often have to resort to the rat-race which is grant writing or pooling in money to do a group show which often pigeon-holes their work into a theme.

As shown in this recent study, this is even harder when you are a Black Indigenous Person Of Colour artist. Even if they successfully show their work, they are still operating at a loss. In group shows only one out of ten artists make profit, most lose out due to gallery and printing costs.

By making both space and art submissions accessible and free of those barriers, MakeRoom creates more opportunities and equal footing for these artists. We are also looking for ways to provide income to artists that participate in our initiatives. Most art, regardless of quality is created at a monetary loss, we want to fix that.

Being Black-owned we feel we have a duty to help black lives when we can. As mentioned before, we run a fully accessible and crowd-sourced platform for BLM resources. It’s updated nearly everyday. We also want to take on more social-cause projects when the opportunity arrives to help. In the last four months since launch, our BLM platform holds over 80 vetted resources and has been shared numerous times across Canada and the US.

Over the past year, The Space Project has displayed over 80 artists and over 200 pieces of artwork publicly with our venue partners. We’ve also raised over $3000 in our fundraisers with over $2000 going directly into the artist’s pockets and the rest given to charity.

Before COVID we had two partner venues in major DIY gallery spaces in Toronto. Due to closures, the two venues unfortunately shutdown permanently. As a response we quickly made a virtual gallery on our website to display artist submissions. We also set up many fundraisers to raise money for different sets of monthly artist cohorts, while we looked for more spaces. Fortunately we were able to partner with CSI Spadina as a venue partner, we also have more partner announcements in the near future.

During the COVID pandemic, there were also unfortunate issues that shed light on the systematic mistreatment of Black lives. As a black owned business we felt it was our duty to help in some way; as a response we created a fully accessible and crowd-sourced platform for BLM resources. We felt like there were a lot of resources out there, but they seemed scattered and hosted on inaccessible platforms so we decided to fix that.

Our partnerships include #Hashtag Gallery, Freedom Factory and now CSI Spadina. CSI has been really accommodating in helping us get this up and running.

We want to shape the way art and public art is perceived in the world. To create a world where artists can have their work shown in places where they used to feel they didn’t belong. We also want to reshape the value the public puts on artwork. Modern day digital feeds have diminished the perceived value of artwork. While digital feeds like Instagram have provided more visibility to artists, public appreciation lasts just a short amount of time, as more artwork is just a swipe away. By bringing artist’s works back to the physical forefront, we create more appreciation in the world.

You can be part of it! If you’re an artist, simply submit your work to our open calls. We have them monthly, every open call enables artists to have their work displayed at our partnered venues at night.

If you’re a business and have window space, we’d love to have you as a venue partner. Please send us an email, we’re always looking for more space to support artists. We’re also looking for sponsors to support phase 2 of The Space Project initiative to help our artists receive payment for their work, get it touch of you’d like to be kept up to date on that project.


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