When we started ildsjel, we knew we weren’t the only organization in Toronto trying to redesign the way we work. Companies like the Centre for Social Innovation are fabulous spaces taking unique steps in coworking, but we wanted to approach workspaces from our own angle. Needless to say, when we started finding other companies a similar vision, we were pretty excited. Toronto has no shortage of unique workspaces, and one of our favorites is Akin Collective.
Akin and ildsjel have a lot in common; we’re both shared workspaces, designed for artists and makers, but we both have our own twists. Where we’re a shared-resource workspace with a focus on design, videography, and production, Akin is all about fine art. Their eight locations across the city provide communal studio space for artists to work on their creative endeavors, but that’s not all there is to Akin.
Like many companies of its nature, Akin started with a group of friends. In 2008, the collective set up a shared studio in a small loft on Queen West, but it wasn’t long before they realized how many artists in Toronto were in need of affordable workspace. They quickly made their first move to a larger location on Dufferin, and over the next ten years, they expanded in both scale and number of studios.
In addition to their nearly 40,000 square feet of studio space, Akin hosts a variety of programs for their members, like regular art critiques, workshops, gallery tours, and exhibitions. Outside their own community, Akin is also committed to providing programming to engage the Toronto arts community through their not-for-profit arm, Akin Projects. Akin Projects offers an array of events across the city, ranging from professional development opportunities, workshops, and community engagement projects, like Pointillism at the Beach, an Afternoon with Seurat, where guests were guided through an afternoon of drawing and painting at Woodbine Beach in the style of French post-Impressionist Georges Seurat.
Even with these spaces, Akin is still expanding. Earlier this year, they launched REMOTE Gallery, an exhibition and programming space on Richmond West, and right now they are in the process of opening a new studio, Akin River, just across the valley from us at River and Shuter. On the programming side, Akin Projects has plans to run 60 events per year.
If you’re on the hunt for a workspace in Toronto, the options can seem a bit overwhelming. They all have something interesting to offer, and it can be tricky to find the one that’s right for you, but if you’re a painter or sculptor looking for studio space in Toronto’s west end, you can’t go wrong with Akin Collective. They’ve proven that they want to enrich the Toronto arts from all sides, and they’re doing a fantastic job engaging people and ushering them into the world of fine art.