Artists' Network paints a new story in Leslieville

By Joanna Lavoie, Toronto.comSeptember 24, 2019 The Artists' Network has a new, permanent home in Leslieville. Starting in October, the Canadian member-led nonprofit — which works to support visual artists in their business practice — will start hosting meetings, workshops and exhibitions in its new home at 1158 Queen St. E., better known as the Leslie Grove Field

The field house at Leslie Grove Park will be the Artists’ Network’s third location in five years.

Housed on Queen Street East in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood for more than two decades, the organization’s most recent home was a bright, 1,500-square-foot gallery behind the Dark Horse café at 638 Queen St. E., west of Broadview Avenue, which it shared with the Riverside Business Improvement Area. However, Streetcar Developments, which owns the building’s at-grade commercial space, decided to move forward with other plans for the space and about a year ago let the two organizations know they’d have to vacate. Initially, move out day was set for June 1, but Streetcar offered the Artists’ Network, which until about five years ago was known as the Riverdale Artists Network, a reprieve after learning it was struggling to find a new home. Longtime supporter Coun. Paula Fletcher heard about the situation and this spring put forward a member’s motion at Toronto city council calling on the city to help the organization by identifying any underutilized city properties on or near Queen Street East that could be used by the Artists’ Network. Fletcher’s motion was adopted without amendments on Wednesday, May 15. She continued to help the Artists’ Network by introducing a motion to grant the organization a lease at 1158 Queen St. E. as well as funding for renovations at the new location. “I am committed to working with Ward 14 residents, business owners and community agencies to build vibrant, healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods,” she said in a Sept. 13 release. “The Artists’ Network has played an important role in the community for the past 20 years, organizing the annual Riverdale ArtWalk, a popular art show. This will enable the organization to remain in the East End and to continue providing critical support to artists.” Chair Kate Taylor said they couldn’t be more grateful for the all the help they received during this time of uncertainty.
“It took extraordinary effort and vision to ensure that Artists’ Network remained in the East End. We are thankful to Coun. Paula Fletcher, her assistant Susan Serran, the City of Toronto and to all of the city employees (who) were instrumental in making this happen,” she said. “The Artists’ Network is run primarily by volunteers and it has been very stressful and disruptive for the organization to have to move so often,” Taylor said in a release.

“We can now concentrate on delivering educational sessions and exhibition opportunities to our member artists and to the community.”

The organization also thanked Streetcar Developments for providing the group with a home for more than two years.

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