The community of Regent Park has for the past half-decade been under the wrecking ball in an attempt to re-imagine what public housing can be within an economic and internationally diverse urban core. What was once a large-scale physically deteriorating district with a vibrant yet disadvantaged community is being rebuilt from the ground up using methods that have yet to prove their worth. The concerns of prior tenants and neighbourhood advocates hinge on the inclusion of all residents within the new community, fearful that cultural practices and grassroot organizations will be brushed under the mat as profit-generating condominiums rise alongside public housing.

Daniels Corporation, the developer responsible for the regeneration of the neighbourhood, has been committed to ensuring past, current and future residents feel included within their new built environment. In an effort to ensure the longevity of previously established social and cultural programs, Daniels paired up with Artscape to design and construct the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre, located on Dundas Street east of Parliament. The building, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, will officially open on Saturday September 22nd, and will begin offering a variety of programs and events meant to re-engage the community.

Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre in Toronto by Daniels, Diamond Schmitt ArchRegent Park Arts and Cultural Centre rendering, courtesy of Daniels

The Open House will be held at the Centre from 12:00 to 4:00 PM, and will provide the general public a chance to tour the unique facility. Several of the building’s organizations will be present for a meet-and-greet; the ArtHeart Communty Art Centre, Centre for Social Innovation, COBA Collective of Black Artists, Native Earth Performing Arts and Pathways to Education are just a few of the innovative tenants that will be moving in. 

Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre in Toronto by Daniels, Diamond Schmitt ArchConstruction earlier this month, image courtesy of forum member Torontovibe

Continuing the festivities on Sunday the 23rd, the courtyard within the centre will host Block-O-Rama, an established community event led by the Youth Sub-Committee. The event is family-oriented and free of charge, and will showcase local talent, as well as offer a variety of games and food.

Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre in Toronto by Daniels, Diamond Schmitt ArchConstruction earlier this month, image courtesy of forum member Torontovibe

Artscape recently launched the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre’s website, where an extensive calendar that includes programming, performances, events and celebrations can be found. Out of neighbourhood organizations are looking to engage with the new Regent Park through Artscape; Nuit Blanche, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and the Canadian Opera Company all have events scheduled through the fall.

Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre in Toronto by Daniels, Diamond Schmitt ArchConstruction earlier this month, image courtesy of forum member Torontovibe

We’re thrilled to see the building opening for business, and couldn’t think of any better way to do so than a weekend of celebrations followed by months of jam-packed community engaging events and festivals. While the redevelopment of Regent Park still has a long way to go and many residents have yet to take up root in the community following relocation, it looks as though Daniels and Artscape are committed to ensuring current and future residents are well represented within their new built environment.