A new cultural and community hub in the heart of Leslieville is officially taking flight.
Tonight, the doors of Streetcar Crowsnest will fling open to the public for the very first time for a preview of new Canadian comedy play, "The Wedding Party."
The $11-million, 12,000-square-foot venue located in the heart of Leslieville at 345 Carlaw Ave. at Dundas Street East is the first professional performing arts facility of its kind east of the Don Valley Parkway.
Located on the ground floor of a 330-unit condominium development, the first permanent home of Crow’s Theatre will feature two convertible theatre spaces — the Guloien Theatre and the Scotiabank Community Studio — as well as an as-of-yet-named brasserie/restaurant to be run by east-end restaurateurs John Sinopoli and Erik Joyal.
“Building a theatre is like a slow moving weather system,” Chris Abraham, the 34-year-old east-end Toronto-based independent theatre company’s artistic director, said earlier this week.
“It’s amazing that we’re now standing at the doorstep of a whole new era for the company.”
Abraham, who has served as Crow’s Theatre’s artistic director since 2007, said the reality of a longtime dream coming true really hit home Friday, Jan. 6 when the cast and crew of the inaugural production arrived to rehearse in the new space.
Aside from being a state-of-the-art venue for the performing arts, Abraham said Streetcar Crowsnest also aims to be a community arts hub. Programming will include in-house and guest/partner theatre productions as well as music, dance, opera, comedy and cabaret shows as well as classes and programming for kids.
“We want to be heartbeat of culture in the east end,” said Abraham, an award-winning director who has lived in The Pocket neighbourhood for 14 years.
“We’ve got 11 shows on offer in the next four months and we’re excited to see how the neighbourhood responds. We’re eager to make connections with the community.”
It’s also an exciting time for Streetcar Developments, the theatre’s naming/lead partner.
“We set out on a mission to turn this corner into something that’s of cultural significance for Leslieville,” said Mallins, the company’s president Monday afternoon.
“I hope the residents of this building appreciate all of the great things that are going to happen in this space. I also hope members of the community find themselves here on a regular basis.”
Mallins credited Ward 30 Coun. Paula Fletcher for sharing her desire to infuse some culture and community spirit into the neighbourhood and for introducing them to Crow’s Theatre.
“It was unbelievable how much overlap there was. We didn’t even pursue other options,” Mallins said.
Fletcher said she was “delighted” to introduce Crow's and Streetcar, “knowing there was great potential in these two dynamic companies developing an innovative relationship.”
Further, she said she’s also happy to secure $1.15 million as a community benefit from the City of Toronto to ignite the theatre’s capital campaign.
“I know that my excitement to have this stunning arts facility and community hub; the first of its kind east of the Don is shared by hundreds of residents and artists who call the East End home,” she told The Mirror in an email.
Other financial partners of note include Donald and Irene Guloien, Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Spaces Fund, the City of Toronto, Scotiabank, the Province of Ontario, Bank of Montreal and CIBC.
Crow’s Theatre will be fêting its new home in the community with a week of celebrations running Jan. 13 to 19. Visit crowstheatre.com for more information.