“Many artists are unaware that they are self-employed and running a small business” says Ashley Proctor, owner of Creative Blueprint and Manager of the Foundery, a new co-working space for artists and entrepreneurs in Toronto, Canada.
Creative Blueprint has developed a range of programs that assist emerging artists and entrepreneurs in navigating the art market, something Ashley noticed was a growing need. Now, with the goal of helping entrepreneurs develop a self-sustaining and rewarding practice, she’s tackling one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists: finding a suitable and affordable space to work. The Foundery is just a spit and polish away from welcoming back members to the space but we caught up with Ashley in the new digs to hear more about her journey and the excitement of launching another new biz.
Along with real estate agent and business partner Jake Koseleci, the Foundery co-working facilities were renovated and reborn. “I’m glad I held out and found the right partner, someone who shares my vision and values” Ashley says. The result of the collaboration is an open and inspiring new co-working space offering affordable rent on a temporary or permanent basis. The open and bright space is complete with boardrooms and business facilities, and boasts its own flexible gallery space for exhibitions, workshops and networking events.
Running a co-working facility is not without its challenges. “I was spending twenty to twenty-five hours a month on invoicing when I started looking for a solution to help cut that down. What happens when your business starts to take off is that you don’t have even an hour to spare for these activities. I usually don’t recommend specific services to my clients but FreshBooks is an exception, it’s been a lifeline for me, and no one has missed a payment yet.”
Are they stopping there? It’s unlikely. Jake is always looking for more space to transform and the duo sees that the arts community is underserved and demand is high for this type of work space. In fact, coworking facilities are found all around the world!
In fact, coming up with creative solutions to space issues is nothing new to Ashley. Since her first year at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) she lived through an extensive renovation of the facility that resulted in the loss of student work space. As part of the union, she saw the union office become a defacto studio for students to come and work. She also developed the student-funded, student-run gallery Xpace in 2004.
Back at the Foundery, Ashley is keeping a close eye on the renovation and planning the facility’s upcoming open house. “I’m looking forward to seeing the interaction between the artists and entrepreneurs in the new space, I think it’s going to be great”. With her at the helm we’re sure it will!