With generous funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation, the first stage of Groundstory invites impacted residents and cross-sectoral leaders from the arts, business, non-profit, and government to come together to cultivate consensus and urgency to move forward with a multi-year collaboration.

Spanning Fall 2017 to Spring/Summer 2019, major activities for Stage 1 include:

  • Convene cross-sectoral stakeholders, and identify who else needs to be involved
  • Define the Steering/Advisory Committees and their roles
  • Develop a common agenda
  • Establish a theory of change and shared measurement approach
  • Map the system/landscape and build a strong case for change
  • Identify what data (and what gaps in data) exists
  • Community outreach and engagement to attract participation.

Major community outreach and applied research activities for Stage 1 also includes:

  • “Round the Block” public roundtable events to capture stories from community members about how they have been impacted by shelter or spacing issues;
  • Surveys and focus groups designed for both artists and the general public province-wide and nationally; plus,
  • Comprehensive international literature review to help establish a foundation for action.



An early draft theory of change reads:

75% of arts and culture workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are satisfied with their shelter and spaces of work by 2030.

In order to evaluate the validity and progress in achieving this theory of change, significant research is required to better understand:

  • Essential elements underlying satisfaction with shelter and spaces of work for arts and culture workers from all disciplines, ethnicities, incomes and neighbourhoods;
  • Correlations between shelter and spaces of work to overall satisfaction for these diverse communities;
  • Current levels of satisfaction across regions, cultures and disciplines in the arts;
  • Past and future risk of displacement from shelter and spaces of work; and,
  • Perceptions and roles of the arts in both causing and/or mitigating the adverse effects of gentrification and displacement in diverse communities across Ontario.



Groundstory seeks to answer such complex questions as:

a) Mapping drivers and impacts of the arts in contemporary gentrification and displacement

What are the contributing factors to gentrification? What neighbourhoods are gentrifying? Who are the most impacted by gentrification (by culture, ethnicity, region, income, etc)? Where are displaced residents and businesses of gentrifying neighbourhoods moving to? What sacrifices are being made to stay where they are, either by choice or by lack of viable housing/spacing alternatives? Are municipal plans being activated in affected communities to respond to these displacements and migrations? Do the roles of individual creative industries, and even specific businesses and venues, change in different regions and neighbourhoods across Ontario, including film/media, visual, performing arts, etc? If so, what are the factors that are driving these differences? Are there positive changes to local, regional and provincial economies due to gentrification? Are there linkages and connections to gentrification trends in other regions nationally and globally?

b) Interventions and policies that can mitigate the growth of income inequality and arts/non-arts displacement in major urban centres

Pressure-testing the effectiveness of emerging and traditional responses to the ripple effects of contemporary gentrification, including: developing multilateral charitable, land value, foreign investor, and vacant property taxation policies; municipal zoning and economic, urban, and cultural planning strategies; national and municipal housing policies, development and maintenance of social housing and co-operatives; laneway suites; storefront theatres, DIY/makerspaces, pop-up studios, creative entrepreneur hubs; diversity and inclusion strategies; tenant’s unions; community land trusts; decent work and fair-pay policies; arts income averaging; low or universal income assistance; and others.

c) Means of connecting independent and silo-ed stakeholders toward a sustainable approach

How may diverse partners come together to implement a shared agenda and theory of change? To what degree can non-profits, business, government, artists, and arts organizations play a shared leadership role in addressing gentrification that cultivates greater connections, collaborations, shared strategies and resources? What strategies, knowledge, and resources already happening or available on the ground can be brought together to deepen impact for collective benefit? How may those most impacted by the ripple effects of gentrification be engaged in the initiative? What tools and methodologies are necessary to sustain a positive shared measurement / impact evaluation process?