Groundstory: Call for Partners

Posted by:ArtsPond in Recent News

The following is a call for partners to join the evolution of Groundstory, an emerging collective impact initiative addressing the drivers and adverse ripple effects of gentrification in Ontario. Interested parties may also download a shorter, one-page version of the call as a PDF.


"Addressing the roots of gentrification, one brick, one story, at a time"

Groundstory is an emerging collective impact initiative with a mandate to uncover and address the drivers and adverse ripple effects of gentrification, including growing income inequality/polarization, lack of affordable housing, and spatial displacement of lower income households and small businesses (including the arts) in Toronto, Hamilton, and other communities across Ontario.

Since the 1960s, artists from around the world have been commonly implicated in traditional debates around the facilitation of gentrification and displacement. However, recent research indicates that the “standard arts-led gentrification narrative is too generalized or simply no longer applicable to contemporary arts-gentrification processes.” (Grodach, Foster & Murdoch, 2016).

Groundstory will detail, and test solutions to, these evolving narratives.

Major questions include:

a) Mapping drivers and impacts of the arts in contemporary gentrification and displacement

What are the contributing factors to gentrification? What neighbourhoods are gentrifying? Who are the most impacted by gentrification, by culture, ethnicity, region, income, etc? Where are displaced residents and businesses of gentrifying neighbourhoods moving to? What sacrifices are being made to stay where they are, either by choice or by lack of viable housing/spacing alternatives? Are municipal plans being activated in affected communities to respond to these displacements and migrations? Do the roles of individual creative industries, and even specific businesses and venues, change in different regions and neighbourhoods across Ontario, including film/media, visual, performing arts, etc? If so, what are the factors that are driving these differences? Are there positive changes to local, regional and provincial economies as a result of gentrification? Are there linkages and connections to gentrification trends in other regions nationally and globally?

b) Interventions and policies that can mitigate the growth of income inequality and arts/non-arts displacement in major urban centres

Pressure-testing the effectiveness of emerging and traditional responses to the ripple effects of contemporary gentrification, including: developing multilateral charitable, land value, foreign investor, and vacant property taxation policies; municipal zoning and economic, urban, and cultural planning strategies; national and municipal housing policies, development and maintenance of social housing and co-operatives; laneway suites; storefront theatres, DIY/makerspaces, pop-up studios, creative entrepreneur hubs; diversity and inclusion strategies; tenant's unions; neighbourhood land trusts; decent work and fair-pay policies; arts income averaging; low or universal income assistance; and others.

c) Means of connecting independent and siloed stakeholders toward a sustainable approach

How may diverse partners come together to implement a shared agenda and theory of change? To what degree can non-profits, business, government, artists, and arts organizations play a shared leadership role in addressing gentrification that cultivates greater connections, collaborations, shared strategies and resources? What strategies, knowledge, and resources already happening or available on the ground can be brought together to deepen impact for collective benefit? How may those most impacted by the ripple effects of gentrification be engaged in the initiative? What tools and methodologies are necessary to sustain a positive shared measurement / impact evaluation process?


With pending funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation, the first stage of Groundstory invites cross-sectoral leaders from the arts, business, non-profit, and government sectors to come together to cultivate consensus and urgency to move forward with a multi-year collaboration. Spanning Winter 2018 to Spring 2019, major activities for stage one include:

a) Convene cross-sectoral stakeholders, and identify who else needs to be involved;
b) Define the Leadership Committee and its role;
c) Develop a common agenda;
d) Establish a theory of change and shared measurement approach;
e) Map the system/landscape and build a strong case for change;
f) Identify what data (what gaps in data) exists;
g) Outreach and community engagement to attract participation.


Groundstory will prioritize Hamilton and the federal ridings of Parkdale-High Park, Davenport, Toronto-Danforth, and Beaches-East York in Toronto. Over the longer-term, a desire is to also reach the Greater Toronto Area, Barrie, Ottawa, Kingston, Oshawa, St Catharines, London, Windsor, the Toronto neighbourhoods of West Queen West/Parkdale/Trinity Bellwoods, the Junction, Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson, Little Portugal North, St James Town, Distillery/Regent Park, South Riverdale/Leslieville, and Danforth (Blake Jones), as well rural areas including Prince Edward County and others.


Groundstory is initiated by ArtsPond/Étang d’Arts (Toronto). Founded in 2014 and incorporated as a non-profit in 2016, the mandate of ArtsPond/Étang d’Arts is to incite positive systemic change in Canada’s arts and culture sector through innovative collaborations on-the-ground and in-the-cloud.


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