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Civic Impact

City of Craft connect shoppers and local vendors now and throughout the year

Shoppers pack the Theatre Centre in support of local crafters and makers

“City of Craft is ultimately a celebration of everything handmade in Toronto,” says Kalpna Patel. “It’s about growing the independent craft community, and providing an opportunity to all crafter at all stages in their careers.”

Patel, a local "craftician" in her own right, is the organizer of the 2015 City of Craft, a three-day marketplace that will kick off December 11. Now in its ninth year, City of Craft is a well-oiled machine featuring sixty vendors, a small handful of staff, more than fifty volunteers, and a half-dozen workshops throughout the weekend. As a result, Patel expects more than five thousand shoppers will pass through The Theatre Centre on Queen Street West.

Like the popular One of a Kind Show, City of Craft features hand-made and locally designed wares from artists, printmakers, jewellery-makers, ceramic artists, and clothing designers. But these aren’t the usual suspects: half the vendors have never before shown at City of Craft, and Patel says for many of them, this marks their first-ever show. “Because of these are makers operating on a smaller scale, they aren’t doing huge batches, and their work is really unique. We go out of our way to find people who don’t have stuff readily available all over the city, to make the experience more special.” The workshops, which are pay-what-you-can, will include a make-your-own-DNA necklace and instructions in calligraphy.

This year also features a longer-term collaboration between the Theatre Centre and the City of Craft vendors, called Side Streets. “We curate a series of installations in their lobby, and every two months a vendor is chose to animate the space and sell their wares. It becomes about experimenting, and people get a shot to try to new things. This opens up a new avenue to play in, says Patel. Ian Phillips, who designed the City of Craft’s covetable tote bags (which will be stuffed with goodies donated from Uppercase magazine, Coriander Girl, Bad Dog Theatre, and more) and poster, currently has the space until January.

Ultimately, Patel hopes that the event creates a dialogue between the maker and the shoppers. “It’s a bit more of an accessible audience. Our crowd tends to be younger and more downtown, so vendors can feature experimental work,” she says. “People coming to shop leave with more than just physical things. They leave inspired to see what’s possible. People in the show are much more than just makers. They run workshops, they’re part of collectives. This is the first point of contact, but it opens up these other ways of interacting.”
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