345 Carlaw Avenue
Type: New construction
Size: 12,000 sf
Project Cost: $11 million
—City of Toronto
Status: Opened in 2017
Located in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, Streetcar Crowsnest / The Carlaw includes a theatre facility and restaurant housed on the first floor of a 12-storey 330-unit condominium building. Streetcar Crowsnest is designed to be versatile and houses three venues for cultural and neighbourhood programming and events: a 3,000 square foot, 200-seat, multi-configurational theatre; a 1,400 square foot studio space for rehearsals, intimate performances, and community programming; a 2,500 square foot open concept lobby with a supporting gallery bar and café; and a 65 seat onsite restaurant.
Complexity / Collaboration
Crow’s Nest Theatre partnered with Streetcar Developments to create their permanent home with a collaboration that began in 2011. The City of Toronto was involved in the early planning stages, which resulted in Crow’s being able to purchase the space aﬀordably. For Streetcar, the project was a way to champion the growth of arts and culture in the neighourhood. Special attention to soundproofing details were required to overcome the acoustical challenges of sharing the performance venue’s new home with the building’s residential population.
User Interaction / Partnership framework
Crow’s Nest Theatre is a financially-sustainable not-for-profit. Crow’s Theatre will adopt a unique model for a venue of this type by integrating revenue generating features in the facility’s design. For a third of the year the hub will oﬀer theatre and for the other two-thirds it will be available for community activities.
Funding / Costs
Funding for the theatre includes a lead gift of $1.25 million from Streetcar Developments, a contribution of $1.75 million from the cultural space fund of the federal government’s Canadian Heritage ministry, and $750,000 from philanthropists Donald Guloien and Irene Boychuk. The theatre expects to carry a mortgage of $1.8 million. The theatre seats were sponsored by local artists and raised $200,000 for the project which came directly from the local arts community.
For small companies, buildings can be particularly expensive given costs of insurance, maintenance and repairs, etc. Crow’s Theatre is unusual in that it is designed to be a revenue generator, rented out in addition to theatre productions to help fund the art component. The project assumes that public funding may not increase and oﬀsets this risk by being a model of “social entrepreneurship.”
Champions include Les Mallins of Streetcar Developments, Chris Abraham of Crow’s, and councillor Paula Fletcher.