kim hart macneill
Everyone can think of something that would make their community, large or small, a better place to live: a crumbling building transformed into a rec centre, activities for the elderly, public art, or an urban garden.
The Aviva Insurance Community Fund is going to make some of those ideas a reality next year. The $500,000 fund will be given away to three or more Canadian communities, decided by a panel of judges and online voters.
It works like this: come up with an idea to help your community, describe how it will help and ball park how much it will cost, then post it on the Aviva’s website. The public votes for their favourite ideas until the end of November, when the 60 most popular ideas move on the the finals. The 25 finalist with the most votes between December 2th and 16th will move on to be scored and evaluated by the judges.
The judges will award at least one small (less than $10,000), medium ($10,000 to $50,000), and large ($50,000 to $250,000) prize, and the rest of the money will be parceled out to the next highest scoring projects until it runs out. The author of a winning idea is invited, but not obligated, to participate in the development of the project. There are lots of proposals on the site already, from all over the country.
One that caught our eye was Toronto’s own White House Studio Project, which posted their idea as a medium-sized project. The group formed about a year ago to help artists find studio space. The popularity of commercial spaces as housing in the city has led to a spike in the cost of commercial loft rental, leaving emerging artists out in the cold.
The White House turned the tables by renting a house in a residential area and divided it into work spaces artists could actually afford to rent. Aside from being just a place to work, the collective also uses the space for group and individual art shows and performances, workshops and guest speakers. They hope use the grant money to upgrade and expand their current space, and to purchase equipment that could be used by visiting and tenant artists.
Registration for the Aviva Community Fund is open until November 29th.
[Photo used with permission of the White House Studio Project]