Moving forward

Artist collective plans for relocation

The Artel resident Stephanie Nativdad doesn’t want to see the collective closed.
The Artel resident Stephanie Nativdad doesn’t want to see the collective closed.

The Artel is scrambling to find a new home after receiving notice from their landlord that they won’t be eligible to resign their Sydenham St. lease.

The Artel is a collective of artists and offers a space for the community to access arts programming, which include exhibitions and performances. It also functions as a home for six of the nine-person collective.

The Artel has made its home at 205 Sydenham St. since its inception in 2006. The property is managed by Keystone Property Management, who informed the collective they won’t be renewing their lease when it expires on May 1, in order to renovate the building. The collective received their first notice three months ago.

Stephanie Natividad, a resident and part of The Artel collective, told the Journal The Artel has shared a “rocky relationship” with Keystone properties over the years, mostly due to the conditions of the building.

“I don’t know much about what the agreement was with the landlord when the founders created this space eight years ago, but when I moved in I knew that the past year we were struggling a little bit,” Natividad said.

“There’s an issue with the sidewalk and the way that the base of the house is lower than it’s supposed to be which can cause flooding, and you know a lot of their properties are really nice so they just told us basically that they decided that they want to renovate and they’re not renewing our lease.”

Keystone told the collective they’re planning to convert the space into two separate units, which wouldn’t be suitable for the open concept studio and living space that The Artel currently is, Natividad added.

Keystone Property Management didn’t respond to multiple interview requests by the Journal.

Avery Everhart, a resident and member of the collective, opened a Town Hall meeting on Sunday to discuss potential relocation options. Around 50 people attended the meeting.

Some attendants suggested the collective consider relocating to the University District as a viable long-term option, while others proposed looking to spaces closer to the downtown core, as well as in Williamsville District.

Hearing feedback from community members and other organizations proved useful for The Artel as it begins to decide how to adapt to the circumstances, said Everhart, MA ’16.

“We were able to make more direct connections,” Everhart said following the meeting. “We knew that the Artel, as an organization, had ongoing relationships with other organizations … but some of those connections weren’t ones that this generation of The Artel had directly.

“Now we were able to make introductions with people invested in the kind of stuff that The Artel does for the community even if they aren’t always able to come to events.”

Everhart joined the collective in September while studying gender studies at Queen’s. They added the constantly evolving nature of the collective has kept The Artel dynamic, but it means that many members don’t have roots in Kingston that go as deep as the organization itself.

The longest standing member has been involved for around three years.

“The rest of us have been around at most for like six or seven months,” Everhart said

For The Artel, the sudden need to move presents a formidable challenge, but it also presents an opportunity.

“We’re trying to view it as a way that we could expand in terms of programming,” Everhart added.

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