Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue centre to undergo renovation

Black architect Dami Akinbode to lead renovation of Parkdale’s BAND Gallery

Dami Akinbode

Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND) has confirmed financial backing for capital improvements to the BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre in Parkdale. The Toronto-based charitable organization, in support of Black artists and cultural workers, hosted Arif Virani, the Member of Parliament for Parkdale High Park, other representatives from the City of Toronto, and Sophia Doulaghsingh, from the Scotiabank executive team at BAND19 last Monday. The event previewed the new design from the lead architect, Dami Akinbode of Diamond Schmitt.

In 2017, BAND moved to their permanent Parkdale home with support from Scotiabank. Current improvements to the Victorian house will maximize the footprint from the basement to the attic; adding new space, updating existing space, and enhancing outdoor space. All aspects will meet current museological standards, with enhanced security, lighting, safety for artwork, environmental controls, and accessibility, including making the historic building wheelchair accessible. The result will be a more functional gallery, multipurpose community areas, and brand-new artists’ studios and workshops.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support of our funders, neighbours, community, staff, and board members, as well as our design team,” says Karen Carter, BAND co-founder. “We’re thrilled to be working with Diamond Schmitt and Dami Akinbode, who understand the requirements and vision for the space. These renovations will improve our ability to meet the needs of our community of emerging artists, curators, and cultural workers through expanded and improved offerings.”

Sophia Doulaghsingh, Scotiabank

“Diamond Schmitt’s design will provide BAND with a distinguished community landmark and broaden our contributions to community arts organizations in our city,” says Greg Colucci, Principal, Diamond Schmitt. “It also enables our firm to advance the careers of our young Black architects on a project that has particular resonance for them on a personal and community level.”

“As a Black architect, it’s a unique and refreshing opportunity to lead a project that means so much for the community I am part of,” says Dami Akinbode, Project Architect, Diamond Schmitt. “I’m able to develop the design alongside my Black colleagues at the firm, working with a client group that looks like me on a unique space for emerging Black artists in Toronto. Our design will allow BAND to expand its capacity both functionally and culturally, providing the Black arts community with a state-of-the-art gallery that feels very much like home.”

Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue (BAND) is an organization dedicated to supporting, documenting, and showcasing the artistic and cultural contributions of Black Artists and cultural workers in Canada and internationally. BAND works to encourage dialogue among Black artists, cultural workers, and the larger society to inspire, enlighten and educate through the arts.