No Space for Community: In depth look into loss of community infrastructure due to the closures of faith buildings in Ontario
What is Community Space, Faith Place?
Estimates suggest that 1/3 of Canada’s faith buildings could be in danger of closing. The United Church of Canada reports one building closing a week while the Anglican denomination forecasts a trendline toward a complete loss of members around 2040. The Community Space, Faith Place or No Space for Community two-year study gathered new data through surveys of existing nonprofit organizations and groups that make use of faith-building space. This data enabled us to examine a series of core questions about how faith-building closures may impact community user groups including: Where will twelve-step groups, social services, services for equity-seeking communities, food banks, blood donor clinics, arts groups or community meetings go in the absence of faith buildings?
With the funding support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Toronto, a collaborative team of institutional members designed and executed a survey project to learn more about the impact of faith-building closures on nonprofit and community groups at a local level. The survey asked the user groups in the faith buildings a series of questions to determine the nature of the use arrangement, financial commitments, and what their alternative locations might be if the building they were using closed. Check out the ARC-GIS interactive map for more information on invisible infrastructure behind Rural Communities.
No Space for Community
The Value of Faith Buildings and the effects of their Loss in Ontario
The pioneering nature of the Community Spaces in Faith Places survey has deepened our understanding of the complex, beneficial way that faith community buildings support the life of their local communities and neighbourhoods. It has also revealed that there is a lot more work to be done to extend that understanding.
"If we fail to adequately understand these changes – representing both challenges and opportunities – we may well lose vital community capacity that will not be easy or even possible to replicate."
Many community leaders and networks of nonprofits, charities, and faith communities have raised these concerns in various ways. There is an opportunity in our current moment to make critical decisions that will see access to community space increase, rather than contract, in the coming months and years. Read the full report to learn more about the survey and the relationship between faith buildings and the community around us.
Community Space, Faith Place: Kingsbridge Centre
Community Space, Faith Place: Coastal Coffee
Community Space, Faith Place: Peterborough
Download the Full Press Release: No Space for Community: New Report Addresses Loss of Community Infrastructure Due to Permanent Closure of Faith Buildings in Ontario
Kendra Fry, project lead, is available for interviews.
For press inquiries please contact Heather Kelly at [email protected]
Space: The Final Frontier
Counting the Social Good Being Done in Faith Buildings
|Dancing with Parkinsons practicing at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts|
The question of affordable office/rehearsal/programming space for not for profits throughout Ontario has been well documented. In major cities the issue is one of affordability while in rural Ontario the lack of “Third Spaces” following the closure of many schools has left rural citizens travelling ever-increasing distances to attend public gatherings.Read more
The Social Infrastructure of Beautiful Gathering
|La Monastere performs at St. Jax Anglican, photo Natalie Bull|
We’re back, exploring the adaptive reuse and co-use (congregation still present) of faith buildings in Canada and the United States. Funded by the Metcalf Foundations’ Leading and Learning Fund, representatives of Artsbuild Ontario, The Toronto Arts Council, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, and Faith & the Common Good finished up our journey in Montreal.
Day two in Montreal (see day one in the last blog) led us to ;St. Jax Anglican and Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a former United Church.Read more
How the Arts Thrive in Montreal Faith Buildings
The Leading and Learning team (this time with the sub-in of the amazing Erika Hennebury) headed back out on the road in late November, this time headed for Montreal. As you might remember Toronto Arts Council, Artsbuild Ontario, Faith & the Common Good and Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre have been supported by the Metcalf Foundation to explore models for the arts and faith to cohabitate. This is the fourth blog post in the series, so please feel free to go back and have a look at what we discovered in Philadelphia and New York.
In Montreal, we started our journey with St. James United and their Executive Director (an unusual title in church land, but one that I heartily approve of) Dianne Ellison and Reverend Arlen Bonnar. The church was built in 1888 on Sainte Catherine Street and is a part of the Quartier des Spectacles. It’s a National Historic Site of Canada and sees about 40,000 tourists per year.Read more
Rising to the Challenges: Faith Building Regeneration
|Photo courtesy of The Anglican Diocese of Fredericton|
Check out the wonderful coverage in the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton news of our recent workshop and tour of the Christ Church Cathedral buildings -- anglican.nb.ca/news/workshop-delves-into-future-of-diocesan-cathedral-buildings.
Boldly exploring the challenge of faith building regeneration and adaptive re-use in Fredericton, NB!
Next stop? Join us on Nov 3 in Winnipeg, MB to continue the conversation!Read more
Regeneration Works Case Studies
Our Regeneration Works: Places of Faith project works with rural and urban places of faith to create community spaces that are both viable and successful. Whether the goal is to keep the doors open or make strategic real estate decisions that serve the faith group and the community, the National Trust and Faith & the Common Good offer hope, inspiration, and solutions based on our work from across the country.
View our Case Studies of the places we have worked with.Explore Project here
Regenerating Places of Faith in Calgary
Places of faith anchor and shape our communities. Yet many congregations are facing declining attendance and insufficient funding to maintain and operate their historic buildings. These important community assets are in a period of transition across the country, and the Calgary area is no exception.
What is their future? How can they continue to contribute in a positive way to their communities?Read more
Faith Buildings Working to Enhance the Visual Arts: Philadelphia Part Two
Today I’m continuing my exploration of Faith/Arts Cohabitation with a quick tour of two great spaces in Philadelphia. In October 2017 I was there working with ArtsBuild Ontario, Faith & the Common Good and the Toronto Arts Council (funded by the Metcalf Foundation) examining a variety of working models for mutual support between arts and faith groups.Read more
Faith Communities Provide Arts Groups With Much Needed Space
On an unseasonably warm (22 degrees!) November evening, myself and my partners from ArtsBuild Ontario and Toronto Arts Council set out on a walk across Philadelphia to Christ Church Neighborhood House. This was the first of two trips to explore the ways in which arts groups are thriving within faith buildings and often in collaboration with faith communities. First stop (with many thanks to the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation), Philadelphia, guided by Faith & the Common Good's friends and colleagues at Partners for Sacred Places, based in the United States.Read more
Why Faith and the Arts Should Cohabitate
Playwright Marcus Youssef, upon accepting this year’s Siminovitch Prize for playwriting, gave a speech that clarified for me why I am interested in the intersection of faith communities with the broader community. Youssef wrote about his interest in points of intersection and the space between people, spoken and unspoken. He wrote about moments of unexpected connection between people, across culture and groups and about learning from these liminal explorations and the richness that comes from these moments.Read more