Creative hub in downtown Kitchener on hold

Those of you who are artistic types, or appreciate artistic types, may have been following the City of Kitchener’s efforts to establish a creative/artistic hub, which would ideally provide low cost studio, rehearsal, and performance space. After several consultations (one of which included a consideration of Sacred Heart as an arts hub), the city decided to sell off 48 Ontario and use part of the proceeds, in theory, to help support an arts hub. They also identified 44 Gaukel as the best candidate space and put out tender for an entity to run the space on a cost-recovery basis.  (It is widely acknowledged that as arts generate public goods, they do not survive on cost-recover models except in special cases.) That process did not succeed, and they are back to the drawing board, per the e-mail included below and this article from the Record.  Share you thoughts!

From Emily Robson:

Good afternoon,

You are receiving this email because you registered for one or more of our events about the development of a creative hub in Kitchener.

Community consultation, locational analysis of various sites and research into best practices of a creative hub was undertaken in 2016. In December 2016, Council directed that 44 Gaukel Street be established as the location of the Creative Hub. Staff proceeded by issuing a request for proposal for the lease of 44 Gaukel Street (1st Floor) to identify an operator of the Creative Hub.

While the two proposals received in response to the Request for Proposal (RFP) were compelling and well-researched and supported, neither submission met all the required criteria. The response and feedback of proponents suggest that it is still possible to develop an operating model for a Creative Hub and that a Creative Hub is still needed. Therefore, a collaborative approach, bringing the strengths of various organizations to the initiative, is recommended.

This information will be presented at Council on Monday, June 26th at 7:00 pm. To read the report and get more details about the meeting, please go to:

The report recommends:

  • That staff be directed to conclude the procurement process for P17-024 Lease of 44 Gaukel Street & the Creative Hub;
  • That staff be directed to work with key creative industry partners to explore and develop alternative creative hub concepts and operating models and return to Council before the end of 2017 with a recommendation on the future of the Creative Hub and 44 Gaukel; and further,
  • That the Mayor and Clerk be authorized to execute short-term (month-to-month) lease agreements for the first floor of 44 Gaukel Street with any of the existing tenants and sub-tenants of 44 Gaukel Street, including the University of Waterloo and/or the Accelerator Centre, with other terms and conditions consistent with the current lease agreements, with said agreements to be satisfactory to the City Solicitor.

Again, your feedback, engagement and support have been incredibly valuable in shaping our recommendations to council. During our consultation, many great ideas emerged and we will be developing those in the upcoming Arts Action Plan in 2017 – when we hope to work with stakeholders to expand on many of the themes that go beyond the realm of this project.

Our role is to help build an environment for your success in the arts, cultural and creative industries. Please contact us any time with questions or comments on how we can serve the community.


Emily Robson

Emily Robson, MAES

Coordinator, Arts & Creative Industries | Economic Development | City of Kitchener
519-741-2200 ext. 7084 | TTY 1-866-969-9994 |





3 thoughts on “Creative hub in downtown Kitchener on hold

  1. I think is clear that for a municipally supported Arts Hub to succeed, it needs to solve more than the problems of the local arts community. Over the past six months I have visited two successful arts centres, the Zentrum fuer Kunst und Urbanistik in Berlin and La Meduse in Quebec City. What they had in common was that in supporting these institutions, both cities solved problems of post-industrial urban decay. In Berlin, the ZK/U is located in a decommissioned transportation terminal. In return for building occupancy, the ZK/U is responsible for maintaining the surrounding property as a community park. In Quebec City, the Meduse occupies a formerly derelict block of commercial buildings in the St. Roch parish. It now houses a variety of cultural services from galleries, to non profit office spaces, recording studios, performance spaces, and a restaurant. People in Quebec City told me that prior to the establishment of the Meduse, the adjacent park was a hangout for junkies. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Meduse was in part responsible for the economic revival of the St. Roch neighbourhood. If you want to visit Quebec City and eat at great restaurants, go to great bars, hear music and see art, you don’t go to the old city. You go to St. Roch.

    With these two examples in mind, I would suggest that those in this community who envision an arts hubs think about the value proposition we offer to the city. I feel that we should not focus our energy and attention on the downtown where property values are high, but in those parts of the city that are distressed and abandoned by business and industry. Time and time again, arts communities around the world have proven their ability to regenerate neighbourhoods. In turn for support, we need to think about what we can give back.


    1. Thanks, Gordon. I’ve sent Emily Robson a link to the blog and suggested that she follow the comments–keep them coming. We have so many artists in the neighbourhood.


  2. ” I feel that we should not focus our energy and attention on the downtown where property values are high, but in those parts of the city that are distressed and abandoned by business and industry. ” Some very interesting comments. Only a few years ago it -was- downtown Kitchener that suffered from low property values and the notion it was “dangerous”. It still hasn’t totally shaken that image but the development of the past few years has make it much more dynamic and interesting.

    An “arts hub” should be central however, and accessible with transit. And have an existing building that can be repurposed. I’m not sure where else fits those requirements.


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