Tips, Tricks & Resources for Sourcing and Setting Up Studio Space & Understanding Commercial Leases

Created by Akin

The Akin team of practicing artists and arts educators has collaborated on this document in the interest of sharing some of their learnings over the past twelve years on how to source, secure and set up art studios and creative spaces in Toronto, a city in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. They hope that these insights help you as an artist to pursue setting up studios yourself, or with others, but much of this information can apply more generally to anyone entering into a commercial lease. Please note that these are simply recommendations and general summary guidance based on our past experiences - it is strongly advised that anyone entering into a contract or agreement access legal support (resources for free legal advice are detailed at the end). Akin is not a landlord or property owner (they offer memberships) but they’ve learnt a fair bit from dealing with them on our members’ behalf!

Landlords and property owners often present a lease as though it is the final document and you have no choice but to sign it but that’s simply not the case. You have the power to impact the terms of a lease with  a landlord, and what you are binding yourself to. 

Rent can be a major expense in your creative practice and figuring out a lease can feel daunting, but the most important point is getting an agreement that you’re happy with and feel secure in (even if you don’t get everything included that you’d hoped for).

 If you are a BIPOC artist, group or arts organization in search of your own space Akin gladly offers additional, focused support and strategy to address your needs. Please contact and should you wish to request a meeting. 

We hope this brief guide is helpful as you consider your studio needs and gives some insights into Akin’s process. Please share as desired, and Akin welcomes any feedback, revisions or additions!

Click here or the image below to access their suggestions.