SSO was established in 2019 by founding members Kathy Bergquist, Anna Frlan, Susan Roston, Christos Pantieras, Ada Brzeski and Carl Stewart. Provincial not-for-profit status was obtained effective July 11, 2019 and we started renting studios on September 15th, 2019.
The project was initiated by Kathy Bergquist and Ada Brzeski, who met by chance as both were seeking studios and found the same vacant warehouse building for rent at 2477 Kaladar Avenue in March 2019. Stonewater Properties were keen to redevelop the warehouse to create artist studios, and offered an affordable price per square foot. We established a steering committee to coordinate the project and spread the word to the visual arts community. A social media campaign was launched via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Full capacity was reached after private viewings and open houses held on August 14th and September 9th.
A Grand Opening celebration on October 25th featured 20 studios occupied by 22 artists working in painting, photography, fabric art, mixed media and new media. Two studios were added on the first floor of the building in January 2020, a shared clay studio and a studio for working in hot metal processes.
SSO’s inaugural board of 3 members expanded to 7 at our first AGM held August 5th, 2020. Our 3-year Strategic Plan addresses the building of studios to meet the needs of a waiting list of 50+ artists. To set us on this path, we attended a custom-tailored workshop facilitated by fundraising coach Jenny Mitchell of Chavender, and are being mentored by Tam-Ca Vo-Van, director of Saw Gallery, under Arts Build Ontario Creative Spaces Mentorship Program.
Our Building’s History
Studio Space Ottawa is located in a warehouse building on Kaladar Avenue, near Bank St and Heron Rd, about 10 minutes away from downtown Ottawa. It’s part of a small legacy industrial park with a residential neighbourhood across the street. There is a microbrewery on the first floor that offers food and a patio and features rock and blues concerts in the evening. There’s a movie studio in the area and lots of hardware stores too for those last-minute items that artists sometimes need.
The building was originally a Sears Warehouse in the 1950s, when Sears had catalogue outlet stores scattered throughout the city. Then it became the premises of Runge Press, and most recently, it was Midway, an indoor amusement park for children, complete with a mini-putt, bowling lanes, and even a go-kart track. When we first visited the building, many of the games were still there, along with dolls, pom-poms, go karts and posters with smiling clown faces. We looked beyond the fun fair paraphernalia and recognized the potential to transform the space into artist studios. We think the building is happy with the arrival of artists and creativity.