In 2008, artist Oliver Pauk came up with the idea of sharing a studio space in a small Queen West loft in Toronto with his artists friends because that’s all they could afford.
“There were very few other options and all of them were much too expensive for what we could manage,” said Pauk, founder and co-director of Akin. “It was a way to have a place to work among others.”
Ten years later the organization Pauk founded, and named, Akin, has grown to become the largest provider of affordable shared studio space for artist in Toronto.
“I first got involved with Akin as an artist. Moving to Toronto, looking for space and right away realized that there is something a little bit different here,” said Michael Vickers, co-director of Akin.
“We have about 300 artists at eight different locations and that’s really quite broadly across the city,” said Pauk.
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On any given day you’ll find visuals artists, designers, and other creatives all working on projects, side by side in a variety of spaces to suit their needs and pocketbook.
“Because I’m a book designer I don’t need as much space — just storage. For the space I’m in I pay about $250 a month,” said Emma Dolan.
“Like any major city, and in an industry that can already be a little bit difficult financially, it’s getting increasingly difficult for artists to find space,” said Vickers.
Jenn Aarron said she likes the studio because as a weaver, she needs more space.
“I pay about $330, which is awesome because it’s air conditioned, insured, totally managed, which is impossible to find in this city at that price.”
The studio spaces are both friendly and inspiring for artists to work on creative endeavours and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds.
“It is inspiring for me to be where I am today, it’s working collectives like this,” said David Chinyama, a painter and sculptor.
“As a practicing artist, it has helped me grow and develop as an artist.So each and every day working alongside my contemporaries I get inspired and enriched.”