Canada Council for the Arts

Describe your proposed activities or services (including timeline), and explain why you wish to undertake them. What needs or gaps are being filled? Who will be the primary beneficiaries? Refer to any research or reports that support undertaking these activities or services. 


Groundstory (Histoire de terrain) is a ten-year initiative to identify and implement systemic interventions that address the adverse ripple effects of gentrification on the arts, including growing income inequality, lack/loss of affordable shelter/cultural spaces, and socio-spatial displacement of lower-income artists/producers in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area. Discussions to seed related efforts in Vancouver and Montreal are also underway.


The rising costs of shelter/cultural spaces have reached a crisis-point in many cities globally. Making 30% less than the average worker, and faced with rents/property taxes increasing up to 400% in the past year in Toronto, Canada’s urban artists are increasingly being forced/priced out of their neighbourhoods involuntarily. Groundstory brings cross-sectoral stakeholders together to identify/implement collective solutions for our artists/company and for the wider sector in Ontario (+nationally through shared learning).


Groundstory is the first Collective Impact initiative known to address gentrification within an arts-focused lens.

Collective Impact is a framework used to tackle complex issues like poverty and climate change. It is a structured approach to make multi-year collaborations work across government, business, funders, non-profits, and impacted people to achieve lasting social change. Through deep, sustained collaboration, Collective Impact aligns the efforts of cross-disciplinary partners over ten+ years to collectively “move the needle” and achieve systemic change in ways single entities struggle to attain on their own.

Well outside the scope of our regular activities, Roseneath is pleased to serve as a Leadership Committee member/Fiduciary Secretariat for this proposal founded by the young non-profit, ArtsPond/Étang d’Arts. ArtsPond serves as the administrative-communications ‘backbone’ coordinating sustained collaboration and shared knowledge between partners and beneficiaries.


Confirmed partners include representatives from Toronto Artscape, OCADU, City of Toronto, tenants of 401 Richmond, Crow’s Theatre, Regent Park Film Festival, placemaker Pru Robey, former Mayor of Toronto Barbara Hall, Centre for Social Innovation, Cobalt Connects, Ontario Professional Planners Institute, Options for Homes, Humber College, Hill Strategies Research, and many others. Intended beneficiaries are low-income artists, arts groups and venues province-wide. The initial focus encompasses Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area.


Based on Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Collective Impact framework, Groundstory is delivered in three stages:

  • Stage 1, Define Impact (2018-19)
  • Stage 2: Organize Impact (2019-2021)
  • Stage 3: Deliver Impact (2021-2026+).

We are requesting funding for Stage 1 to identify an evidence base, build stakeholder consensus, and pressure-test preliminary solutions to direct future stages, including:

Cultivate structured Leadership Committee with minimum eight convening sessions between stakeholders representative of the fabric of Ontario, including emerging and established leaders from the arts, government, philanthropy, and non-profit sectors, as well as displaced, lower-income artists and arts groups from diverse communities in Toronto and Hamilton.


  • Build trusting, cross-disciplinary relationships that can be sustained long-term
  • Define an effective governance and communications structure
  • Further define the issue and develop agreement on a Common Agenda
  • Identify a Theory of Change including a shared data collection and analysis approach
  • Deepen internal understanding and community awareness of the Collective Impact framework and motivate community leaders to embrace its potential for mutual benefit
  • Identify and recruit additional cross-sector stakeholders
  • Convenings will take place in Hamilton, Toronto, North York, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Scarborough, and Oshawa
  • Meetings are video-recorded for archival purposes with ASL+French-language interpretation upon request.

Map the system/landscape including facilitating two focus group interviews and two public roundtables with displaced arts groups/artists in Toronto/Hamilton (including ASL+French interpretation); disseminating two needs analysis surveys to artists and general public province-wide; completing an international literature review; and, engaging a data scientist/technologist.


  • Establish solid evidence base for future support
  • Identify what data (and gaps in data) exists
  • Develop tools to manage and share collected data between stakeholders long-term
  • Pressure-test preliminary solutions with community feedback.

Outreach and community engagement including hosting two bilingual (French/English) public information sessions.


  • Share knowledge and attract greater public awareness/participation.

Publish a bilingual website and final report


  • Clearly articulate the results and disseminate recommendations for Stage 2.


An early draft reads, “75% of artists in the GTHA are satisfied by the shelter and spaces of work by 2030.” The purpose of Stage 1 research is to determine whether these are desirable/deliverable targets for the community, and to identify factors that may drive/limit their impact. Since there are few to no comprehensive datasets in this area to build upon, Groundstory’s proposed research will break necessary new ground in creating a baseline of understanding to operate from. What contributes to artists’ satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their shelter and spacing? What are the public’s perceptions of artists as gentrifiers/revitalizers of neighbourhoods? How can public policies better support the needs of artists, and much more?