The industrial Port Lands just got an amazing creative space
Something surprising is happening in the industrial Port Lands. Long a bit of a wasteland and home to energy, shipping and construction industries, an ambitious new enterprise has just sprouted up.
The name is Ildsjel and they brand themselves as both an arts collective and workspace that encompasses a music studio, meeting rooms, engineering shop equipped with 3D printers, hangout spaces and more.
Co-founder Rebekka Zuckermann Kristiansen is from Norway, where the word “ildsjel” roughly translates to “enthusiast.”
Upon entry past a large porch, you enter a high-ceilinged, industrial space. However, with a fireplace and cozy furniture near the front cafe area to greet you, it doesn’t feel too big or intimidating.
And why the Port Lands?
“Being located [here] allows us to create a mix-use space that can accommodate micro-manufacturing, events, and a variety of arts and culture industries at the same time,” says Zuckermann Kristiansen.
She speaks of a “discovery culture” associated with the Port Lands that counteracts the lack of traffic that's often necessary for new businesses to thrive. The location itself, she says, forces Ildsjel to be creative.
They offer three tiers of membership in order to use the space: Connector ($30/month), Collaborator ($125/month for part time, $250/month for full time), or Provider ($500/month).
Connectors have free access to Ildsjel events and can book the space for their own work and events.
Collaborators have access to open air workstations, can partner on events, and can use the space for 20 or 40 hours depending on whether they’re full or part time.
Providers have dedicated workstations, lockable drawers and 24/7 access to the space.
Writer Peter Sanfilippo uses one of the open air spaces to write and work on the collaborative graphic novel he works on with another friend focused on his time at now dying out HMV.
“This is a huge opportunity because our members are establishing the community with us, bringing their unique experiences and expertise to the table as we define what this creative community will look like,” says Zuckermann Kristiansen. “We thrive on people walking in to our space and seeing what it could be in terms of their own craft.”
Along with Zuckermann Kristiansen, Dmitri and Jason Kanaris also cofounded Ildsjel, the latter of whom presides over this domain, the collective’s “makerspace” filled with all sorts of 3D printers and other equipment I barely dare even breathe on.
However, that’s the exact opposite of the point: all these benches are available for basic hourly rent, and there are libraries of hand, power, and specialty tools, as well as mechanical systems for carpentry and metal fabrication, a milling machine, and lathe drill.
Jason is available for troubleshooting on the use of all of this equipment, and can help you use it to bring ideas into the physical realm. He can help you create a circuit board to operate a product you’re imagining, or even assist when you’re stumped repairing an electric guitar.
RHC Music run by Ross Hayes Citrullo and Salmoral Studios run by Connor Salmoral (who also assists with RHC) both operate out of the professional studio in here. Like everything in here, this place is designed to be multi-purpose.
That means not only do the two companies use this as their studio, bands also rehearse here and voiceover work takes place here. You can work with RHC to record music, and with Citrullo and Salmoral’s skills and experience they can help bands with everything from grant writing to mastering their product.
Ildsjel is designed to be a jungle gym for creative workers where they can talk, eat, drink, throw events and make their wildest imaginary dreams a reality.
“If we were in any given neighbourhood in the downtown core, I don’t think we would feel the same kind of freedom, or the same kind of community spirit that we find here,” says Zuckermann Kristiansen.
“We have had a lot of great conversations with people who wish to develop more creative spaces in the Toronto waterfront, and we have been in touch with organizations who are arguing the case for a Port Lands culture hub,” she adds.
She feels there’s an “innovative energy surrounding arts and culture” in the area right now.
“We feel like we’re a part of the movement here in the Port Lands now. Being in the Port Lands has helped us shape our concept of collaboration over competition.”
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