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THE SCOOP | Tapestry Opera And Nightwood Theatre Team Up To Build New Performance Space

By Anya Wassenberg on May 10, 2023

Jaime Martino, Michael Mori, Andrea Donaldson and Naz Afashi (Photo: Eden Graham)
Jaime Martino, Michael Mori, Andrea Donaldson and Naz Afashi (Photo: Eden Graham)

Toronto has seen many performing arts venues and even rehearsal spaces vanish over the last few years, a process that was exacerbated by the pandemic. To buck the trend, and address the situation, Tapestry Opera and Nightwood Theatre have announced the launch of a capital campaign with the goal of completing development of a new collaborative space for performing arts.

“Following years of Toronto losing vital arts spaces, we are proud to announce the creation of a new facility in the heart of Toronto that is also easily accessible by public transportation,” notes Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Artistic and General Director in a statement.

Both companies were forced to make an early exit from their home at the Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery District. It’s just one example of how a rising real estate market has wreaked havoc with many spaces that were formerly devoted to the arts. The new venue will be developed at 877 Yonge Street.

The move from the Distillery District, where an arts community had been built over two decades, was a significant blow. However, the new facility, a short distance north of Yonge and Bloor streets, will create another community that includes a partnership with St. Clare’s, an affordable housing organization.

Jaime Martino, Michael Mori, Andrea Donaldson and Naz Afashi plans for the space to an enthusiastic crowd at a recent open house (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
Jaime Martino, Michael Mori, Andrea Donaldson and Naz Afashi plans for the space to an enthusiastic crowd at a recent open house (Photo: Dahlia Katz)

The details

“This new space will provide affordable space not only for Tapestry Opera and Nightwood Theatre,” says Executive Director Jaime Martino, “but, just like our Ernest Balmer Studio in the Distillery, it will create low-cost, accessible space for the greater performing arts community in Toronto.”

The capital campaign looks to raise $1.5 million to complete the project, which will include a number of upgrades on the Ernest Balmer Studio.

  • The space will be designed by Hilditch Architects;
  • It will be used to create new Canadian works;
  • The facility will incorporate 6,500 square feet of space;
  • 2,700 square feet will be devoted to a performance hall;
  • There will also be a rehearsal studio, greenroom, and shared office spaces.

The new facility will offer about three times the space of the now defunct Distillery District location.

Nightwood’s co-executives Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director, and Naz Afsahi, Managing Director, commented, “The energy and generosity that this new venture has attracted has been astonishing. We are so grateful to St. Clare’s and to the numerous individuals and partners who are making this (necessary) dream a reality. We see great benefit in sharing resources with not only each other as arts organizations, but with another non-profit as a creative and exciting way forward in addressing the social needs of our city. We are very close to our goal and welcome those who want to support growing culture in Toronto to reach out!”

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