For Our Second Anda Residency We Were Inspired By A Room In A Riverdale Rooming House.
The story of rooming houses, and of this particular residency, is one of increasing relevance for our city. Rooming houses host some of our city’s most vulnerable people that live well below the poverty line. The conditions of these spaces vary significantly, but they are commonly small, single-room, shared amenities (kitchen, toilet, bathing facilities), and very low rent. A report written by University of Toronto professor, Emily Paradis, shares that “Dwelling rooms (another term for rooming house) have played a vital role in the development of cities, meeting the need for housing that is affordable, low-barrier, and sometimes temporary. They reflect their cities’ history, built form and economy.” Though activists and community groups are working hard to protect these spaces, in Toronto and around North America, we continue to lose these spaces as our city develops and expands.
The focus of Anda_2 is to tell the story of these spaces, their residents, and how this unfolds in our cityscape.
Our artists-in-residence will occupy a space in a rooming house where we will be sharing space with the 9 residents who are staying to fight for their home. Meanwhile, 15 of the 24 residents have moved to new homes somewhere in the GTA. As our city condenses, it is likely that the best way to provide affordable homes is to keep holding on to spaces like this one. We need to ensure that our city is able to provide affordable rents to all inhabitants of our city.
To help weave the story of these residents with the story of our city, we are looking for 1-3 visual artists or collective and 3-5 non-visual artists (poets, writers, map makers, performers, etc.) to use their craft to tell the story of these spaces. Artists-in-residence will be given space and material to create during the Anda 4-week residency.
The square footage of this residency is intentionally small to emphasize the squeeze of confinement. The timeline of this residency is intentionally short to echo the great sense of urgency that surround space and place in our city. Let’s step into that discomfort.
We live in an urban-experiment. Anda is a small test-tube of this experiment.
We are looking for urbanists, artists, community folks, academics, and people with lived expertise to share knowledge, stories, facilitate and/or have conversations with our artists-in-residence.
A former conflict journalist and current filmmaker and artist who resides in Parkdale. Maya will be creating visual art and possibly a short experimental film exploring the erasure of identities and communities due to gentrification. She has been actively recording the Parkdale housing crisis and engaging in activist efforts within the community with hopes to develop a feature documentary about the issue. She has spent some time working with residents of rooming houses in Parkdale as well as the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust.
Lindsey Vodarek is journalist and creator, reporting on issues of income and housing with a human rights lens. She is the 2018-19 Maytree Foundation Human Rights & Poverty Fellow and recently completed the Fellowship in Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto. She shares stories, facts and empathy by digging deep, connecting dots and shedding light on unintended consequences. Regardless of income, she believes we all deserve dignity and protection.
Experimental movement / dance artists. Through somatic, energetic and trauma informed practices they will embody and carefully hold these stories as a way to help process and understand them. To provide what support they can, their practice is open to the tenants, demonstrating ways to dance/move that help connect us with feelings of joy and pleasure while dissecting such complex issues.
Anda is self-funded. The organizers of Anda are paying rent to occupy this space. Landlords are aware of our us space, but are not going to interfere with the art being created in agreement that we will not use their name in any media, publication, or forms of art.
The Tenants of this property have been served eviction notices June 2018. The Landlord is providing the (minimum) required support to assist in Tenant relocation. 9 of the 24 tenants remain in the properties for various reasons. Currently Tenants pay $500-600 a month, and market rent for a similar space is at least double that and farther outside the city. The superintendent that maintains the property is also still on-site. He was offered an opportunity to stay, but would also need to depart the space during renovations and will not be paid at this time. This is description is a drastic oversimplification of what is happening in this space. Through this residency we hope to learn more about the individual stories and relationships between these groups.
It is unclear what the exact use of this property will be. The Landlord is renovating the whole house while maintaining the original layout. They intend to include private washrooms in all units and a shared kitchen in the basement. The potential for this space to be student housing or professional furnished rentals.
We understand the emotional labour that this residency may entail. We will have space holders on-site to hold space for artists to talk through any personal challenges they may experience in this residency.