HXOUSE Toronto incubator

Toronto is getting a creative incubator backed by The Weeknd

A trio of self-made, Scarborough-born, creative industry superstars are setting out to prove that there's more to repping for one's city than shouting it out on mixtapes.

Abel Tesfaye (aka the Weeknd), XO Creative Director La Mar Taylor and sports marketer Ahmed Ismail just announced the establishment of a "next-generation accelerator" that they hope will boost and nurture young talent in Toronto.

Called HXOUSE, the not-for-profit incubator is scheduled to open this fall on Toronto's waterfront — right where Koolhaus and the Guvernment used to be — as part of the new, $30-million Artscape Daniels Launchpad.

Artscape Daniels launchpad

The Artscape Daniels Launchpad, currently under construction, is set to open by the end of 2018 at 130 Queen’s Quay East. Image via Artscape.

The space will serve as a creative and digital hub for up-and-coming artists of all kinds, providing them with the tools, contacts, financial backing and freedom they need to "activate their own talents."

"With HXOUSE, I feel young people who are creative will have a place to share and sharpen their skill sets, all while being mentored and coached by industry leaders," said Taylor in a press release announcing the project.

As part of the project, 30 young artists will be chosen each year for an intensive, four-month-long in-house mentorship program called No More Dreams, inspired by Taylor, Ismail and Tesfaye's own successes, despite the hardships of growing up in poverty.

Hxouse toronto

The Weekend's Creative Director La Mar Taylor and sports and entertainment marketing titan Ahmed Ismali pictured at HXOUSE, which is under construction now. Image via Micki Benedetti.

"The program aims to accelerate the creative careers of young artists, especially those in underserved communities," reads the Artscape Daniels Launchpad website, "by providing access to learning, networking, funds, production and partnership opportunities."

Some of the opportunities participants can expect involve world-class events, the latest in emerging technology, access to leading brands, legal advice, help with grant programs and lessons on everything from creative coding to "next generation millennial marketing."

HXOUSE will provide high-impact, long-term and sustainable development solutions to the emerging community across Toronto and the globe. Our goal is to remedy the lack of infrastructure and support for the creative arts communities in underserved and disadvantaged markets. We will establish lasting partnerships with global brands to facilitate employment, mentorship and advancement opportunities in the areas photography, music, film, digital design, marketing, fashion, and tech. HXOUSE will create a space for creative individuals to turn their passion into a rewarding, sustainable and profitable career. HXOUSE will partner with Artscape Daniels Launchpad located in the heart of the City of Arts building on Toronto's waterfront to bring this dynamic project to life.

A post shared by HXOUSE (@hxouse) on

Program participants will be selected through an application process from a pool of Launchpad members, according to Artscape. Applications for membership to the Launchpad itself are open to the public now.

Interested in applying? Me too. You can find more information right here. Good luck!

Lead photo by

Micki Benedetti.


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