What is the Long Winter's DIY Space Project ?

  • 01.01.01

Long Winter launched its DIY Space Project as part of an international festival and conference in 2021, in response to issues of space scarcity in Toronto.

Peer-driven, locally focused, internationally informed, the Space Project is a direct intervention in support of the preservation and stimulation of self-organized, alternative culture. We are working for urgent results and long-term shifts.


From a city-wide open call and juried process, three collectives seeking access to space were selected for participation. 

Collectives are paired with a neighbourhood-focused cross-sector advisory group to support them in their journey to find, secure, or sustain new spaces. Advisory groups are curated in coordination with the applicant, based on individual context. Members are drawn from spheres ranging from research, urban planning, real estate, building ownership and operation, and government.

The experience is documented to inform policy and opportunities for alternative cultural and social spaces, in Toronto and elsewhere.

Participation includes :

– Compensation
– Construction of a work plan focused on immediate needs (e.g. finding or securing space, building a governance or business model, pursuing partnerships, forming networks, fundraising, conducting advocacy)
– Facilitated group meetings and one-on-one coaching with advisors
– Local connections and introductions to open longer-term opportunities 
– Research to support policy recommendations

International exchange

The DIY Space Project is an associate member of project partner Trans Europe Halles, an international network of grassroots cultural spaces across Europe and beyond. 

Thanks to the generous support of Trans Europe Halles, in May of 2022 representatives from each of our collectives attended the network’s annual conference, and participated in a multi-venue, multi-city tour in Prague, Amsterdam, and Berlin. We met and exchanged with community-run spaces, advocacy networks, and government officials engaged in grassroots space policy. We experienced new models, built connections, and compared environments and challenges.

In each city, government officials from Toronto and the host municipality exchanged contexts, advancements, and best practices.

Instructive cases are informing project paths for each group. In coordination with the local government, we are exploring integrations and adaptations back at home.


…proceed in tandem across multiple timeframes and systemic levels: targeted outcomes for participants, and changes to facilitate the cultivation of more space for alternative, experimental, non-commercial activity in twenty-first century cities.

Community - results for participating collectives 

The receives expert input, strategic relationships, and inter-sector knowledge and training around finding and establishing more sustainable space for their communities, and others in their network. 

Municipal - program and policy advocacy in Toronto

Local and international case studies provide valuable data for both cultural groups and policy makers. Triangulated conversations between sector leaders (building ownership, municipal and provincial government, urban planning, grassroots cultural/social work) help inform best practices for cross-sector exchange. New connections - between collectives and across sectors - open advocacy opportunities. 

With the facilitation support of PROCESS, we are brokering unconventional dialogues and relationships to surface shared interests and collaborative solutions. 

In parallel, we are coordinating with members of local government (across sectors and regional levels) to identify and shift present hurdles to community space use.

International - multi-city research and exchange 

Rapidly developing “world” cities are in urgent need of solutions-focused exchange around space scarcity and affordability. We aim to build awareness and critical dialogue around models in support of counter-cultural and community-driven spaces. Categories of investigation include (but are not limited to) internal governance and economies, external platforms and networks, advocacy practices, business and funding models, sustainability, gentrification implications, inter-sector partnerships, and government policies. 



Founded in 2019 as an artist-run space and DIY gallery, Hearth seeks to provide a site for projects within a context that values collaboration, experimentation, and community. Hearth is committed to working towards an anti-oppressive, queer positive environment, and welcoming marginalized, racialized, and indigenous folks through programming that celebrates the work of a diverse range of emerging collaborators. As a collective, we are able to respond quickly to artists’ needs, and aim to provide a space where artists have the chance to pursue projects that benefit from a flexible setting. Hearth is composed of four members, Sameen Mahboubi, Philip Leonard Ocampo, Rowan Lynch, and Benjamin de Boer. The name makes reference to our goals. As a structural element in the makeup of a house, and a tool providing warmth, light, and food; a hearth gathers us towards itself, and towards each other. Hearth programming presents exhibitions, public programming including performances, readings, screenings, workshops, tours and digital projects through our curatorial mandate.


Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (RISE) is a youth-led movement that began in Scarborough in 2012, providing opportunities and spaces for youth to develop artistically, professionally, personally, socially, and spiritually. RISE creates safe and inclusive spaces that foster self-expression and healing through the performance arts and storytelling. R.I.S.E’s mission is to create: (1) opportunities for young artists to participate in and deliver workshops that empower youth to develop confidence in themselves and their voices through self-expression in a supportive atmosphere; (2) opportunities for youth to showcase their work across the GTA in schools and community settings; (3) platforms for new, emerging, and professional artists to build careers in the arts, and; (4) Employment and volunteer opportunities for BIPOC young people to participate in community-service. RISE’s programs provide youth with opportunities to express their creative voice, develop artistic and innovative leadership skills, and build capacity for professional artistic practice, while encouraging them to imagine alternative futures for themselves and their community. RISE is dedicated to being that shelter of positivity for young people experiencing financial precarity and at risk of violence in their community. It turned out to be something that many young people were hungry for; an opportunity to share, feel safe, express themselves, and practice their art. RISE has since grown into the registered not-for-profit arts and community service that it is today. In 2019, prior to the pandemic RISE organized 374 events, hosted 3310 performing artists on our stage, and gathered over 25,000 recorded attendees.

Our Women’s Voices

“We are a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and making social change through the arts, community and education. We curate events that provide womxn, femme & NB folks an outlet to use their voices, expand their artistry, learn from other womxn and give youth activism opportunities to reshape the future. Our vision is to have a space to run workshops and events focused on many themes such as violence against women, creative careers, feminism and reclamation”.