Cedar Ridge Creative Centre working to make arts more accessible in Scarborough

The Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, operated by the City of Toronto and located in Golfdale-Cedarbrae-Woburn, has been a hub for artists in Scarborough for more than 45 years. Nick Westoll visits the centre for a tour.

As arts institutions and events operate more extensively in downtown Toronto, communities like Scarborough also have vital spaces for artists of all skill levels.

The Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, located on Confederation Drive southeast of Scarborough Golf Club Road and Lawrence Avenue East, has been municipally run since 1978 after the property’s owner left it to the former municipality. It was built in 1912 by Charles Cummings, who also built the Scarboro Golf and Country Club.

“It’s an amazing site to pull up to every morning,” Tina Harper, a City of Toronto community cultural coordinator who has worked at the centre for 25 years, emphasized during a facility tour as Your Community visited Golfdale-Cedarbrae-Woburn.

“This site brings a deep sense of joy to, I believe, both me and the community. [It provides] the opportunity to access lifelong learning, the opportunity to see people develop a new skill, and be happy and let go of some stress with their everyday lives to be able to come in and sit in the garden.

“A lot of people come to Cedar Ridge to heal and to explore themselves.”

There isn’t a shortage of things to do at the property, which sits at the top of a ravine and has multiple gardens and trails.

In the summer, youth camps are available. There are also multiple classes and amenities dedicated to painting, pottery, woodworking, folk art, and fibre art.

The main floor features three open galleries for exhibitions.

“It has an amazing amount of character and charm, and it’s often the perfect setting for a lot of artists to showcase their work,” Harper said while pointing out numerous preserved heritage features and high walls.

“We always are looking to offer as many public programs as possible.

“We also have a great accessibility lens so we take any opportunity that we can to update our studios and bring in further accessibility there as well. So the future will hold a lot of exciting possibilities.”

Zoë Bridgman is one of the artists who has an exhibition at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre after applying and winning a juried process. She previously worked as a professional photographer and turned to painting five years ago.

“[The Cedar Ridge Creative Centre] is hugely valuable because there aren’t a lot of spaces for artists that are early career to find spaces to show their work and the fact that it’s through the City of Toronto opens some little doors here and there and allows a bit of credibility,” Bridgman told CityNews.

“A lot of those spaces that used to be available to just rent to have a show are now disappearing, as well as studio spaces for artists, because of all the development in the city. So it’s actually an incredible opportunity for artists to be able to apply.”

She said the body of work currently on display at the centre partly pays “tribute to a place that [her] family spent a lot of time and a tribute to [her] father who passed away a year ago.” Bridgman said the cost of putting together this exhibition has been greatly reduced.

“It’s essentially the cost of you creating the work and getting the work there, but you don’t have to pay to show your work. It’s a really huge opportunity,” she said.

Click here for more information on the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, its courses, exhibitions and programs for artists in Scarborough and across Toronto.

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