From its beginnings as a 900-square-foot storefront on Queen Street West, SKETCH, an art-making organization for street-involved youth, has grown its programing and client base and is now moving to a large elaborate space on Shaw Street.
SKETCH started in 1996 with a drop-in art space offering programming to about 50 youth.
"It was just a small safe space for art making, totally accessible for young people to come by and start exploring through the arts," said Rudy Ruttimann, the executive director of the arts organization.
Now SKETCH is moving to an Artscape building at 180 Shaw St. and has launched a $1.5 million capital campaign to support the move.
The Shaw Street Artscape building, called YOUNGplace, will repurpose the historic Shaw Street School and will house a diverse mix of creators, as well as arts, community and social mission organizations.
The capital campaign to raise the money SKETCH needs to build its programming space is called Home is Where the Art Is and is spearheaded by a cabinet co-chaired by former Toronto mayor David Crombie and John Andras, past chair of the board at SKETCH.
"We just launched the website so people can go there and find out everything from what the plan is, how much we want to raise, what we are raising it for and how you can donate," Ruttimann said.
Since it started 15 years ago, SKETCH's mandate has stayed the same, but the organization has grown in size and in the amount of programming it offers. It now offers anything organizers can get their hands on including painting, music, culinary arts, screen-printing and martial arts.
"We spent 10 years developing the methodology and creating an idea of what would work. We believed in community art as a practice and that art making itself is a way of working with this particular population, those who are living in poverty," Ruttimann said.
SKETCH now works with about 800 youth on Sudbury Street, near Queen Street West and Gladstone Avenue in a condo.
Their programming is currently being run at venues across the city, but the plan is to move most programming to its new home.
Blueprints, which lay out the ambitious new space with rooms for art making, recording and movement studios and spaces for ceramics, hang on an easel in the SKETCH office.
"It could take three or four years until we are up to the place we want to be, fully functioning," Ruttimann said.
"But I think with a lot of collaborations and a lot of work we will be able to build it out."