Those who know London will know that the Forest City’s art scene is bursting and thriving. TAP Centre For Creativity is one of the many institutions in London that provides incredible culture and expression for this city. At TAP, local artists can find their voice and confidence to continue to pursue a career in the arts, or just find a spot to be able to hone their passion and hobby.
As its name suggests, TAP Centre For Creativity is a creative hub in London where local artists can have a space to tap into their imagination and express their curiosity and vision. Through TAP, the creative community is supported and given opportunities to create, experiment, network, and share their creations with others. TAP has an art gallery, a black-box theatre, multiple artist studios, and a multi-use workshop space.
It was previously known as The ARTS Project, but no matter its name, it has helped London creatives in so many ways. It helps artists build diverse audiences and encourages collaboration. It also reduces the barriers of participation in the arts while also fostering excellence. This small, non-profit organization contributes to our local economy and also invests in sustainable arts.
TAP was always envisioned to be a creative hub in the city’s core, and so its location, in downtown, on Dundas street between Richmond and Clarence Street is absolutely perfect. Since downtown is a transit hub in the city, TAP is accessible to practically everyone across the city.
Having TAP situated in the centre of London in the busy downtown core is fantastic for the artists working there. Downtown offers a wide spectrum of types of people and is always bustling with activity and inspiration. Dundas is one of downtown’s busiest streets and TAP gets a number of pedestrians on foot who can be drawn in through the gallery’s welcoming art.
TAP’s permanent home and current location is situated in what used to be the Hawthorn’s Hotel and Rowland Hill Shoe store. The building was bought back in 2003. They converted the main floor into a theatre and gallery space and then resident artists moved into the studio space, which was unfinished, on the upper level.
In 2008 the board of directors launched a fundraising program to pay for extensive renovations, which modernized the space, allowed more consistent operating income, and also expanded the size of the gallery.
TAP’s gallery is a great place for Londoners to experience and support local art. The gallery offers free admission and showcases the work of talented local artists. The gallery’s hours are from 12 to 5, Tuesday to Saturday. On top of that, it’s also open during gallery events.
The gallery is always offering something fresh to see as it often offers new exhibitions and is always changing, meaning that it’s the kind of establishment that you’ll want to make a habit out of frequenting so that you never miss out. The gallery in TAP is a great place for unestablished artists to find a place to get exposure as they often feature emerging creators, from Fanshawe students to Fanshawe graduates to other local artists.
The gallery is also available to rent out for artists. If any individual or artist groups wish to share, work, learn, or showcase they can connect with TAP and rent out the 4000 square foot space for their needs. The accessible facility is a bright and airy space with 130 self-gripping hooks for wall art, 15 plinths for sculpture displays, seating options, folding tables, a PA system, and plenty of restrooms.
TAP’s Bruce B. Johnson Theatre is a black box theatre space located in TAP. Black box theatre is a type of simple performance space. It’s usually a square or rectangle room with black walls and a flat floor. This clean, straightforward design allows for the focus to be on the acting and the performance, rather than on extravagant production. The layout also often encourages audience interaction and makes for a flexible stage. Because there is limited set construction and usually less-technical elements are used, many often consider black box theatre to be “pure” theatre.
The Passionfool Theatre Company is TAP’s very own resident theatre. They have studio space in TAP and host incredible productions and performances in the theatre space.
On top of The Passionfool Theatre Company, TAP’s black box theatre space hosts many performances from local artists throughout the year. There is always something moving, interesting, entertaining, or thought-provoking to catch at TAP’s theatre.
The space can be rented out for theatrical performances, concerts, film screenings, comedy shows, lectures, and more. It has seating for up to 80, a backstage area, a small stage with curtains, sound options, and a variety of lights.
TAP Centre For Creativity has a rich history in this city. In 1975 London was itching for an arts centre. Over 30,000 people signed a petition that was meant to take the city’s historical Court House and convert it into an arts centre. The project was shortlisted by the city, but many years later a group of business professionals and artists came together with a dream.
Back in 1996, TAP was just a dream for London to have a dynamic downtown core that was bursting with an inclusive art scene. The group of individuals that had this dream surveyed over a thousand residents to see if their dream extended to just beyond themselves. The results were overwhelmingly conclusive: Londoners were yearning for something to provide a spot to learn, a spot to showcase creativity, and job creations in the arts. In 1998 and 1999 grants from Ontario Trillium Foundation and HRDC made TAP Centre For Creativity possible and it emerged on the downtown London scene as a hub for creativity.
TAP Centre For Creativity has 10 different studios in their facility that are occupied by Resident Artists. Those artists have full, 24/7 access to these studio spaces so that whenever inspiration hits, they have the territory and tools that they need to bring their idea to life. TAP Centre For Creativity offers exposure and marketing opportunities for the Resident Artists, as well as providing opportunities for the artists to network, collaborate, and get feedback for their art.
TAP Centre For Creativity also has an Emerging Artist Studio Program where the resident artists, who are in the middle of their careers as artists, can mentor emerging artists who are starting to transition from the academic pursuit of art to make a living out of being an artist. The program gives the emerging artists studio space, fully funded, for an entire year as well as a budget for materials, and a solo exhibition in the gallery (including marketing support for it). Throughout this year they are expected to be exposed to many different art forms, be pushed, have their ideas tested, and can see if art-as-a-career lines up with their life-goals.
Their studio space is also a place that local businesses can use to host more creative team-building workshops for their employees or volunteers.
They also have their third-floor studio space, named the Cocker-Fulton Studio, available for rent to photographers, videographers, and other local creatives. This 640 square foot space is available at affordable rates and features stunning exposed brick, giant windows, and stunning wood floors. It provides the perfect backdrop for photography or video shoots.
One of the big ways that TAP Centre For Creativity both makes art accessible and removes barriers is by giving opportunities for learning from professionals and other artists. The events at TAP range from workshop-styled events where you can create with your hands to listening to speakers and interacting with other creators.
The events are always different and changing, so it’s a great opportunity for Londoners to stay connected and continuously check back in throughout the year to find the events that best appeal to them.
Here are some examples of annual events and past events that TAP has offered:
Colour-Mixing: In this colour-mixing class, you’ll learn how to mix and create any colour that you see and want to emulate. Painter’s pallets are often a thing of trepidation for those who are not knowledgeable in how to mix. The sessions will go through demonstrations and understanding of colour theory so that participants will be able to use hue, light, temperature, and more to create realistic depictions.
Life Drawing: TAP Centre For Creativity has London’s longest-standing Life Drawing classes. These classes happen weekly on Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons. Participants draw portraits and life-drawings based on real-life models.
Comic Jam: This is a monthly series for comic artists. It’s a fun and interactive event that allows artists to meet, connect, hone their skills, and have fun! You draw the first panel of a comic and then slide the paper across the table. The next person then continues the comic panel. This event is for all ages and skill levels and materials are provided.
Tingfest: Tingfest is an annual event and is a multi-week celebration of past, present, and future graphic and comic artistry from all over Southwestern Ontario. It was named Tingfest after Merle “Ting” Tingley, who was the editorial cartoonist at the London Free Press from 1948 to 1986. It also is a space for current and emerging artists to showcase their work to the public through the gallery.
Arts On Tap: This even happens throughout the year and each one focuses on a different art medium. Participants can work on a creative art project while enjoying a tasty local craft beer from Anderson’s Brewery.
LDN Convergence: At this event, attendees come together with local artists of various disciplines and art forms to create and work together on a creation.
Unscripted Speakers Series: Speakers of different disciplines in the arts, from performers and writers to designers and sculptors, offer “unscripted” talks where they tell stories, people can ask questions, and everyone can learn.
London’s Art Scene
London, Ontario’s arts and culture scene is an absolute dream for creatives. One of the main contributing factors to that scene is TAP Centre for Creativity. Here, individuals are given plenty of opportunities to tap into their creativity and flourish within the artist community. The focus is on supporting local artists and connecting local artists together.
As it once was called The ARTS Project (which TAP happens to be the acronym for and is why their re-branding and new name works perfectly on multiple levels) and was originally created as a way to revitalize the downtown core, a way to have London flourish with art, and be a hub for the creative community, TAP has been reborn like a phoenix and has thrived even more within this incredible city.
If you have not checked TAP Centre of Creativity out before, make sure you do! Whether you’re an artist who is looking for events to participate in where you can learn, hone your craft, meet other creatives, and feel rooted in the community or are an appreciator of the arts and want to support local artists by checking out the gallery or catching a performance in their black box theatre, there is something for everyone here.
And if you’re an artist looking for rental space, remember that TAP Centre For Creativity has plenty to offer! You can rent their gallery space where they have plenty of space to hang and display your own art. You can rent their theatre space where you can put on products of all kinds, whether it’s theatrical or not. You can rent their studio spaces for anything from workplace team building workshops to photography sessions.
Even if you’re not sure exactly what you would be interested in, check out TAP. They do a lot to support local artists which helps our local economy thrive and helps develop London’s rich culture.