CREATING A LIFELINE FOR TORONTO ARTISTS IN THE ANNEX

Dupont gentrification forcing studios to relocate, while others are finding ways to hold on

Michael Vickers and Oliver Pauk from the Akin Collective

The landscape is changing on a formerly industrial stretch of Dupont Street, between Christie Street and Keele Street. It’s an area that is in the process of undergoing large-scale revitalization and is the site of several future condos, with at least seven development proposals in the works. But as Dupont increasingly becomes gentrified, a community of artists who called the street home are now facing the prospect of having to relocate.

“As of two years ago or three years ago, on Dupont between, say, Dufferin and Keele, there were a number of [studio] spaces,” said Oliver Pauk, co-director of an arts collective called Akin.

Through Akin, Pauk and his partner Michael Vickers negotiate short-term lease agreements, also known as “meanwhile leases,” with developers to rent studio spaces as buildings await demolition. Currently, the team has eight studios across the city, including two on Dupont.

One of these properties is 888 Dupont St. It is a green and weathered four-storey industrial building at Dupont and Ossington Avenue that was purchased by real estate development company TAS around six months ago. At the time, it was inhabited by a number of illegal residents, including artists who were using the space as studios, and one art gallery.

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