distillery district artists

Distillery District artist hub closes this month and people are sad to see it go

The artist studios that made the Distillery District special and vibrant will close up shop this month.

Since the Distillery District opened in 2003, there has been space for studios and their presence gave the place it's artsy vibe.

But all that ends this week as around 70 independent artists have been turfed from studio spaces in the Cannery and Case Goods buildings at the Distillery.

Their lease ended in 2022 – a decision established 20 years ago when they signed with the owners of the Distillery but the artists had hoped for more time. The last two years operating during lockdowns have been tough.

French language community college, Collège Boréal, is slated to take over the space.

Many of the artists have already left and most of the remaining studios must pack up by March 31, says Hoi-An Tang, owner of Mehoi.

"It's a shame to lose something like the Case Goods building for the artists as well as for the community that comes to explore," Hoi-An tells blogTO.

This will be the last weekend the remaining artists will be there, she says. Some artists have already closed while others are in various states of packing and moving.

"You can hear echoes through the whole building because enough of it must be empty," she says. "It's creepy."

Hoi-An has a space in the west end, which she plans open in August.

She has heard artists are going to different locations across the city, and some are putting their stuff in storage until they can find another studio.

Ceramic artist Susan Card, who has been in the studios for 15 years, is one of the few artists able to find another spot in the Distillery District. The new space will be near the huge heart sculpture close to Parliament Street.

She is moving into the space with two painters and is leasing directly from the Distillery, not Artscape who managed the agreement with artists since 2003. Card’s new studio will be open around mid-April — for now she has a lot work moving out.

"I have two kilns to move," Card tells blogTO. "Moving a pottery studio is not easy."

While it was her goal to stay in the Distillery District, she will miss fellow artists and friends she has worked beside for years.

"I think it'll be a big loss not to have the artists' hub," Card tells blogTO. "We will miss the other artists and I think the public will miss the artists' hub as well."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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