When people walk into MuseMovement Studio for the first time there are, across the board, two initial remarks or variations upon them. These are: “what a beautiful studio,” AND “this is such an interesting building, I’ve been meaning to come for a while,” OR “ I didn’t even know this existed, what is it exactly?”
Artscape Youngplace is one building among many across Toronto, belonging to, and being transformed by, Artscape, "a non- for-profit organization that makes space for creativity and transforms communities through creative place-making." While all of these projects are pretty spectacular, Youngplace is particularly special to MuseMovement. Located in what Vogue Magazine names as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, Queen West, (and bordered by the vibrant Ossington Village) "Artscape Youngplace is a community cultural hub…, with 75,000 square feet of space devoted to artistic inspiration, learning, growth and expression."
The building was once a public school. Fun and intimate fact- a school that my step bother and sister attended. In 2000, the Toronto District School Board shut the school down because of low enrollment. The building sat empty until 2010 when Artscape took it over. It is very relevant that the neighbourhood and it's various community's had a lot of input into what would go into this building. In it's own words, "Artscape Youngplace nurtures creation, learning and collaboration through innovative programs, experiences and events in an inspiring, social environment in order to strengthen and grow our community." And this is palpable when you walk into the building. It feels accessible, like a place where you will run into friends and neighbours, a place you want to explore and hang out in, that has something for
everyone and where you will be sure to leave feel inspired.
The building was renovated and resorted but still has the appearance of an old school. But not a school that you drag your feet to, one that your are excited to go to every day, to learn and discover. And there is lots to discover. Every three weeks or so new exhibits are put up on each floor. The Koffler Gallery on the first floor has longer running exhibits and even the stairwell walls are home to changing artists creations. In keeping with this spirit MuseMovement has dedicated one of it walls to display the work of various local artists. We had to save the other walls for handstands, legs up the wall and other inversions- after all, these inspire creativity in the mind, heart and soul.
This is just the tip of the iceberg though, there is so much happening at Artscape Youngplace. And its not just that there is cool stuff to look at on the walls. The buzz of the building is created by those inside it as well. It's the couple that bring the paper and their two dogs and sit in the Coffee Pub on the Mezzanine every Saturday morning; it's the Youth from Sketch (SKETCH is a Creative Enterprise Hub in Toronto engaging young people homeless and on the margins, ages 16-29.) practicing their performances in the hallways; it's the pop up markets in the flex studios; it's the university students hovered over their laptops soaking up the free wifi in the Urban Lounge; it's the kids filtering in to attend their hip hop dance class or myriad of other weekend and after school programs and activities; it's the new moms and babies coming to the College-Montrose Children’s Place drop in centre or gathering together for a tea; its the creative programming and planning going on the third floor where Luminato has its offices. And of course, It's people coming to get their yoga and Pilates on at Musemovement Studio, where we have built our own little community within the larger Artscape and Queen West neighbourhood community.
And that my friends, is just a little bit about Artscape. Hope that makes it a little clearer and or entices you to want to come check it out. It really is something that you have to experience to understand its awesomeness.
MuseMovement will be holding a free drop in Yoga class (4:30 March 12th) for all levels as Part of Artscape Youngplace's RECESS -a community open house featuring
Art * Live Music * Creation * Conversation * Performance * Arts Market * Food & Drinks
Thursday, Mar 12, 2015, 4:30 – 10:30 pm.