SKETCH: Project Home


SKETCH: Project Home

Published in Fall 2021. All details reflect this time period.

How SKETCH addressed skyrocketing rent in their Queen West neighbourhood to keep engaging young people, who live on the margins, through the transformative power of the arts.

In 2018, after already moving three times in the same neighbourhood and investing over $2 million in renovations, SKETCH leadership was quickly coming up against a hard reality: that by 2025 they would no longer be able to both afford the rent on their 9,000 square foot space on Shaw Street and maintain their level of programming.

“We dropped from 625 to 426 participants the last time we had to move because of rent increases,” recalls founding director of the SKETCH Institute, Rudy Ruttimann. “We lost momentum and had to spend a lot of time rebuilding connections with youth. I didn’t want young people to pay the price for a sky-high rental market.”

Artscape, a supportive landlord and creative placemaker, was open to selling to SKETCH their units for $3.32million, paired with grant funding and a short-term Vendor Take-Back (VTB) to help close the initial capital gap. In just over a year Ruttimann assembled a broad team of supporters, including foundations, the City of Toronto, corporate investors, and a surprising number of individuals who understood the long-term impacts of SKETCH’s work in the community. They completed the purchase of the property by the deadline of March 2021 with a highly successful capital campaign in addition to a community bond campaign.

After completing the required due diligence, Toronto Foundation was able to make its support official with the purchase of a $150,000 community bond in early 2021. “Toronto Foundation was the first bond pitch we did and we walked away with so much more than your interest,” says Ruttimann. “Your team provided much-needed coaching along the way to help us best position our campaign, to be vigilant and sophisticated in our approach. That validation and endorsement means we now have a broader support base among individual donors, who we will be able to sustain as ongoing supporters of our work.”

Over the last several years SKETCH has wanted to scale up its revenue generation and has been developing its social enterprise offerings by renting out space and offering classes to more members of the local community.

Read our other investee profiles: Parkdale's Neighbourhood Land Trust, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.

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