918 Bathurst may be a well-kept secret but the various groups that use this space have helped it grow into a thriving centre for arts, education, and all kinds of different activities.
Once home to the Toronto Buddhist Church, the building was erected in 1955, and vacated by the church when the congregation grew and moved on to a new, larger centre around 2004.
918 Bathurst has three main spaces: the hall, the art gallery, and the lower-level seminar rooms. Though it's been updated, the building retains a church-y feeling that reminds me of friendly rummage sales.
And in some ways, it's not out of place - churches, even ones that still have active congregations, often host dance lessons, support groups, and the like. Although I've yet to hear of one whose activities run such a wide gamut as those of 918 Bathurst.
There are a few regularly scheduled rentals that make up the space's bread and butter - the centre operates entirely on rental fees.
918 Bathurst has ongoing relationships with local organizations such as The Annex Chess Club and Spirit of Math Schools. Special events in the Great Hall have ranged from theatre performances, to launch parties, to art markets, workshops, concerts and galas.
The space has also been used for wedding receptions. And since so many different people are coming through the doors for one event or another, word-of-mouth has really helped the 918 grow its audiences.
A sun-filled room adjoining the Great Hall is 918 Bathurst's visual art space, which the staff of Lonsdale Gallery helped transform into an up-to-snuff art gallery.
the author and 918 Bathurst