Blackhurst Cultural Centre raises 14.2 million for expansion

From left: Itah Sadu, Chrystia Freeland, Marci Ien and Olivia Chow

The federal government has announced a significant investment to bolster Toronto’s cultural landscape, with a joint investment of $14.12 million for the expansion of the Blackhurst Cultural Centre in Mirvish Village.

This initiative was unveiled on Sunday by Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, alongside Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, along with Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto.

This funding will facilitate the second phase of the Blackhurst Cultural Centre’s expansion by reconstructing a heritage building currently owned by the City of Toronto. Upon its completion in 2025, the expanded facility is set to become a bustling hub for Black culture and history in Toronto, offering enriched programming that celebrates the contributions of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry through various artistic and educational mediums.

Architect Judah Mulalu

The Blackhurst Cultural Centre, a Black-led non-profit organization, will significantly expand its offerings thanks to this investment. The new space designed by architect Judah Mulalu of Toronto will feature a soundproofed drumming studio, an art gallery, a digital podcast room, a bookstore, and multi-purpose community spaces.

These enhancements will provide more opportunities for Black artists and community members to thrive and engage with the broader Toronto community.

“The Blackhurst Cultural Centre is an important cultural hub where all Torontonians can share in the rich culture and history of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry” stated Freeland.

Judy Brooks Chair of Blackhurst

“Today’s investment is about ensuring Toronto remains a culturally vibrant city for generations to come. This investment to create new spaces for Black artists to cultivate and showcase their talents is just one example of how our government is helping revitalize communities across the country and helping Canadians connect with their neighbours”.

A key aspect of the expansion is its focus on sustainability and inclusivity. The project will adhere to net-zero carbon standards and be barrier-free, ensuring it is accessible to all community members. This aligns with the goals of the federal government’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and build resilience to climate change.

Minister Marci Ien 

“The expansion will allow the Blackhurst Cultural Centre to welcome more visitors and provide dynamic spaces for art, education, and community connections. The initiative underscores the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of Canadians of African and Caribbean descent while inspiring future generations, it is a monumental step towards empowering Black Canadian artists and preserving their rich cultural heritage. It provides a platform for Black Canadian artists to push creative boundaries and share their work with the community,” said Ita Sadu.

“Today’s announcement of over $14 million for the Blackhurst Cultural Centre is a monumental step towards empowering Black Canadian artists and preserving our rich cultural heritage,” said Marci Ien.

Chrystia Freeland gets a tour of Blackhurst from Ita Sadu

“This funding will help Black Canadian artists push creative boundaries and share their work. It will offer the community a place to gather, learn, and grow together—and it will ensure the stories, traditions, and contributions of Black Canadians continue to inspire future generations. Black Canadian History is Canadian History.”

The federal government is contributing $11.34 million to the project, with $7.84 million coming from the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program and $3.5 million from Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The City of Toronto is contributing $2.78 million, making the total joint investment $14.12 million.

The Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program, launched in 2021 with an initial investment of $1.5 billion over five years, supports green and accessible community centre construction, retrofits, repairs, or upgrades. Budget 2024 announced an additional $500 million top-up to the program to support more projects across Canada.

As Toronto looks forward to the completion of the Blackhurst Cultural Centre’s expansion in 2025, this investment marks a significant milestone in the city’s ongoing commitment to cultural enrichment, sustainability, and inclusivity. The enhanced centre will serve as a beacon of Black culture and history, fostering community connections and celebrating the diverse contributions of Canadians of African and Caribbean ancestry.