By Deena Douara
Karim Rahemtulla speaks often of “bridge points.”
As Artscape Daniels Launchpad’s first managing director, he recognizes creative production as both a personal outlet that “drives the soul,” and as a bridge – an economic engine, a preserver of culture and tradition, a binder of people and community.
“Art, design and culture – they thread us together,” he says, based on 13 years of working with the Aga Khan Development Network on projects around the world, including Toronto’s own Aga Khan Museum. “It can be as simple as the architecture of a building, the design of a shirt, or the music we hear.”
He notes that culture is a catalyst for economic growth and opportunity creation, with the creative economy contributing about $11 billion to the Greater Toronto Area’s GDP.
It is with this perspective that Rahemtulla has joined Artscape to lead its newest creative placemaking venture, Launchpad, which includes a set of programs specifically designed for creative entrepreneurs, and a 30,000-square-foot “one-stop art and design entrepreneurship hub” on Toronto’s waterfront named Artscape Daniels Launchpad. Slated to open in September 2018, the facility will provide affordable access to multi-disciplinary production spaces and offer a “gateway to services, funding, business opportunities and more.”
THE CAPITAL PROJECT
“Here’s the grant, mentorship, and space to practice your art – a place to go every day. That’s what’s different and unique about Launchpad,” says Rahemtulla.
Artscape Daniels Launchpad will be located within the Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts complex. (Both George Brown College and OCAD University will also be within the complex.) The hub’s production studios will include high-end AV equipment, animation tools, green screens, a recording studio, woodworking space, photography studio, textiles studio and other production and prototyping studios for its members. Artscape Daniels Launchpad is intended to be a “collaborative system” – a place to access guidance and mentorship, resources, funding, and potential partners.
“Launchpad will bring creatives together,” says Rahemtulla. “Providing them with an environment to collaborate, but also to collide – that’s really important. Growth as an entrepreneur is not just around collaboration but also the collision of ideas.”
With Launchpad, Artscape is supporting creative entrepreneurs even ahead of the opening of the new creative hub, with training that ranges from an intensive six-day Creative Entrepreneurship Program, to a single-day introductory Creative Business Design Workshop, as well as one-off events led by industry experts.
Newly added is the Starter Company Plus Creative Arts program in partnership with the City of Toronto and Province of Ontario, through which eligible graduates of the Creative Entrepreneurship Program may receive a $2,000 grant, mentorship, and one-year membership to the Artscape Daniels Launchpad facility.
“We’re trying to provide those who come through Launchpad programs with an entrepreneurship toolbox,” explains Rahemtulla.
Rahemtulla believes Toronto is an ideal home to develop these new Artscape initiatives. The city is bursting with artistic expression and Rahemtulla largely credits its famed cosmopolitanism and openness – something that, as a refugee, has impacted him personally.
“Look at Toronto’s diversity, its wide-ranging communities and the interest in so many different sectors,” allowing Toronto to uniquely develop as a creative hub in a global context.
“Canada is a representation of pluralism itself,” says Rahemtulla. “Toronto is setting itself up as a stage to showcase all of this.”
Artscape, a Toronto-based non-profit “urban development organization,” has also set the stage to showcase creativity by supporting artists and makers for over 30 years, through creative placemaking initiatives and developing cultural facilities around the city like the Artscape Wychwood Barns, Artscape Youngplace, the Artscape Distillery Studios and Daniels Spectrum.
For more information about upcoming opportunities for creative entrepreneurs, visit Artscape Daniels Launchpad.