History of Neilson Park Creative Centre
This modern art facility was built by the former City of Etobicoke in 1992 to provide a focus and venue for visual art in the central Etobicoke community and to provide a home for five founding community art groups.
In February 1991, after 2 years of intensive lobbying by the arts community and the founding groups, Etobicoke City Council approved capital funding for the building. It was agreed that the City of Etobicoke would build and maintain the facility and that the member art groups at Neilson Park Creative Centre would be responsible for the administration and programming for the new facility.
By December of that year, an official sod-turning ceremony took place, a Board of Directors had been established, a constitution and by-laws were drawn up and Neilson Park Creative Centre was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. Almost a year later, in September 1992, the facility was finally occupied by the first community group.
Located in a beautiful park setting, the building includes a large Main Gallery and a Hall Gallery. Four studios each have a wall of windows, both warm and cool lighting, an exhaust system, individual climate control, and a sink.
Since its official opening, NPCC has been an active member of the Toronto West community. The six Resident Art Groups: Etobicoke Quilters’ Guild, Etobicoke Handweavers and Spinners Guild, Etobicoke Rugcrafters, Humber Valley Art Club, The Etobicoke Art Group, and the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto which joined the Centre in 1995, offer open membership to the community and all offer art classes and workshops. NPCC began offering beginner level art classes to adults in its first year of operation. In its second year, NPCC offered the Artsmartz summer art program for children, first established by Parks and Recreation. Saturday classes for children, operated previously for 40 years by The Etobicoke Art Group, were held at NPCC for the first four years, then integrated into the NPCC programs. The number of classes and workshops offered by Neilson Park has steadily increased, until, in 2003, there are close to 30 classes and workshops offered each Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall session for adults, teens and children. The children’s program, in particular, has grown to include after-school classes, portfolio development, workshops particularly for teens, and expanded March Break and Artsmartz summer camp programs.
The exhibitions at the galleries of NPCC present the work of contemporary Canadian artists, community artists and art groups and the schedule is fully booked two years in advance. A strong increase in artists' sales indicates the increase in community interest and visits, as well as the calibre of work being exhibited.
Two major fund-raisers have been held annually for over ten years: “Art-in-the-Park” in June and “Winter Artfest” in December. Both events showcase the talents of local artists and Resident Art Group members and attract a large audience from across the GTA.
Neilson Park Creative Centre is a prime example of the Public / Private partnership model that Toronto City Council is now encouraging all groups to examine. The Centre continues to thrive and participate in the Toronto West community.