Our ongoing Toronto Arts Foundation Awards series continues with a spotlight on the Daniels Corporation, winner of the Toronto Arts and Business award.

"It’s wonderful to be recognized by the Toronto Arts Foundation … and to achieve recognition as a company that puts arts front and centre. We did this work because we see it as being so important to a greater Toronto," said Martin Blake, Vice President of Daniels Corporation.

Left to right: the Honourable Aileen Carroll (Minister of Culture for Ontario), the Honourable John Baird (Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities), George Smitherman (MPP Toronto Centre), Councillor Pam McConnell (Toronto Centre - Rosedale), Tim Jones (Artscape, President and CEO), Mitzie Hunter (Chief Administrative Officer, Toronto Community Housing), and Martin Blake (Vice President, The Daniels Corporation). Photo courtesy of Artscape Toronto.

The Daniels Corporation has gained a reputation for being one of Canada’s preeminent builders/developers with a commitment to quality, integrity and the arts. This includes the completion of the TIFF Bell Lightbox and their current project to revitalize Regent Park - 69 acres in Toronto’s Downtown East.

"When you think about the changes that are happening in an area like Regent Park, it’s monumental and for our company, that type of work is what gets us most excited. It’s a revitalization, it’s not one building, it’s helping a neighborhood transform," said Blake.

The Daniels Corporation partnered up with Artscape to create a 3-storey, 60 thousand square foot building devoted as the Arts and Cultural Centre for the new Regent Park. Blake believes strongly in the arts as an expression of people.

"There are around 8000 people that live within 69 acres in Regent Park; it’s a very dense area and incredibly diverse. There are around 59 spoken languages in that geographic area. Most people who live within Regent Park have an immigration background, whether they are first generation immigrants or perhaps new immigrants. They’re coming in with these wonderful connections to culture, to dance, to music, to art and there just wasn’t a place to showcase it. So we got together with Toronto Community Housing and said we need to be able to create a space that could act as a showcase and the Arts and Cultural Centre was where this came from," said Blake.

"When you ignore such an important aspect of people, then you’re ignoring what I think is the part that makes us all unique. We see support of the arts as being a support of people and creative values, abilities, and opportunities for people to really showcase what it is that they can contribute to society. All of these things build on people and help to create a better Toronto," said Blake.

Martin Blake pictured above with women from the Regent Park Women and Families Quilting Group. The commissioned quilt is on display in the lobby of one of the new condos in Regent Park and was made to symbolize the essence of Regent Park’s revitalization. (Photo courtesy of Livehigh.com)

"We like to think of ourselves as community builders as opposed to building builders. For example, on a lot of our projects we have community gardens where the landscaping is edible. We find ways to be able to bring people to share something together in the common area. We look at ways to attract people to our buildings, where they’re looking to be part of something bigger then themselves," continued Blake.

The Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre is set to open in September 2012. For more information, check in with the Toronto Artscape Regent Park website.

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