Located inside the Guild Park and Gardens, the Clark Centre for the Arts is undergoing a revitalization that is set to open in the fall of 2020. The multipurpose facility will house art studios and be home to creative programs for Toronto residents and visitors to explore and enjoy. Guild Park and Gardens is a unique 88 acre site on the Scarborough Bluffs that includes forests, shoreline and a collection of architectural fragments, sculptures and buildings.

The Clark Centre for the Arts site has a long tradition of creativity and fine arts. Initially in the 18th century, the land surrounding the Clark Centre for the Arts site had been divided into tracts that were granted to loyalists who had served in the American Revolutionary War. After changing hands a number of times, General Harold Child Bickford purchased the property in 1914, named it the Ranelagh Park Country Estate and built the well-known Bickford House. Today, the Bickford House is a Designated Heritage Property, and considered an excellent example of early 20th Century Period Revival style with Arts and Crafts detailing.

In 1932, Rosa and Spencer Clark founded the Guild of All Arts after Rosa purchased 450 acres of land. The Guild of All Arts contained shops, a tea room, and studios in fine art and craft, including painting, sculpture, hand-loom weaving, tooled leather, ceramics, metal work, wood carving and batik. After the war the Clarks expanded the hotel and restaurant operation and created formal gardens. The area became known as the Guild Inn or the Guild. During Toronto’s building boom that began in the 1960s, many historic 19th and 20th century downtown buildings were demolished. As an advocate for architectural preservation, Spencer Clark recovered many of these buildings’ facades and architectural features to display on the grounds of the Guild.

The City of Toronto conducted community consultation from December 16, 2015 to October 31, 2016, collecting a wealth of information from a variety of stakeholders to inform and guide future planning for the arts and cultural facility at Guild Park and Gardens.

Taylor Hazell Architects have been engaged for architectural services for the rehabilitation and addition of Building 191 into a community arts and cultural facility. The firm was founded in 1991 to address architecture, conservation and strategic planning for existing sites and structures. The firm’s award winning work in planning, contemporary design, heritage conservation and adaptive reuse is extensive.

The interior demolition commenced at the end of May. Substantial completion is scheduled for early summer 2020.

The park will remain open during construction.

Interior Demolition ongoing, June 2019

Clark Centre for the Arts (CCA) will offer five specialized art studios and two on-site cabins, providing over 6,000 square feet of new, dedicated studio and event space.

City of Toronto, Arts Services will operate the facility with four program streams:

  • Affordable pre-registered programs with multiple weeks of instruction during day, evening, weekend and summer hours, including textile and digital arts, drawing and painting, sculpture, children’s summer camps and literary arts for all age groups.
  • On-site artist residencies for professional and emerging artists
  • Community outreach workshops supported through community partnerships
  • Short-term facility rentals

The CCA will offer approx. 20-30 programs/workshops in 2020 once the centre is open. By 2021, at full capacity, the centre aims to offer 60-80 unique, cultural initiatives annually.

Sculptor’s Cabin
The Sculptor’s Cabin is a small historic building located near the front entrance of Guild Park and Gardens. The Cabin is currently being renovated and will open in the spring of 2019, to serve as a meeting place, and welcome and information centre for the community. The facility will operate through the CCA, and through local community partnerships with charitable agencies.

Osterhaut Cabin
Located south of the CCA, the Osterhaut Cabin will operate as a program resource to support the CCA’s artist in residency and pre-registered programs.