Develop a Space

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We’re continuously building our expertise, so you can build your space.

Arts Habitat collaborates on potential arts space projects to cultivate affordable and appropriate spaces for the arts community. We endeavour to define the actual space needs through environmental scanning and research. Liaising with partners such as the City of Edmonton, other provincial organizations, and arts social purpose enterprises across Canada, we continually build upon our expertise to offer the right resources and information to members of the arts community in Edmonton.

Pre-project development

While each project is unique and requires a vision, there are many similar processes that each will go through in terms of development. Pre-Project Development is all the critical work that needs to take place prior to physical development. This phase is needed by funders and partners for reassurance the project is deliverable.


  1. Understand the dynamics that drive your project. You can use a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) to stimulate and assess interest for your project.
  2. Determine if the project is right for your organization. Check out this Guide to Feasibility Studies.
  3. Your project is more than just your logo or website design. Build a strong project vision with a viable mission statement.
  4. Shared spaces are great ways to connect diverse organizations, share knowledge and costs, and offer the potential for progress. Check out the Shared Spaces for Innovation Series to learn more and see if building a shared space is a beneficial direction for your project. There is also a non-profit shared space toolkit for Edmonton.
  5. Actively engaging your partners or stakeholders will help you drive change.
  6. Develop some marketing material from your vision and mission. 

Planning and analyzing

Time spent proactively planning and analyzing your entire project will help to prevent mistakes and delays. Successfully completing this phase will help you better understand, analyze, plan and act for the long term.


  1. Create a Business Plan that will help you bring your idea to life.
  2. Securing funds for your project can be a major challenge. The following are some different avenues of funding available:
  3. Steps to select the best contractors for your project.
    1. Architect
    2. Engineers
    3. Development manager
    4. Financial Advisor
  4. A feasibility study will help you to determine if your project is viable, and then determine the best approach for you to consider.

Designing & Permits

Development permit approvals must be obtained for new construction, renovations, businesses, and changes of use to existing buildings. You are required to have a valid development permit before you can apply for a building permit to construct the building or structure, or to apply for a business licence. All development permit applications must meet the zoning regulations of the property, such as land use, lot dimensions, lot area, etc. You are encouraged to submit your applications in person, where city staff can ensure that your submission is complete.


  1. Here are some key considerations when selecting your site.
  2. There are rules and regulations about what you can build and where. You can find information on Permits, Developments, & Construction, Changes to Existing Buildings, or New Commercial Building information.

The Build

During the development phase, everything needed to implement the project is arranged. Potential suppliers or subcontractors are brought in, a schedule is made, materials and tools are ordered, instructions are given to the personnel and so forth. This is when your vision and plans become reality. It is important to maintain communication with your team to continuously monitor and make adjustments as needed. Funders and key stakeholders should also be kept informed of the project’s status.


Operation and Evaluation

Many people think that at this stage the project is complete, but that is not true. In order to be successful, you must continually evaluate as you move forward. Activities such as setting up Board Governance, finding tenants, or settling into the space will need to be done. You must also look at supporting the building infrastructure to ensure that the building is kept in a condition to be used for many years. This includes planned preventive and predictive maintenance and corrective (repair) maintenance.

  1. Board Governance is important to the governing aspects of your organization. You can also check out these Board Development Workbooks for more.
  2. Learn more about the different forms of fundraising.
  3. Risk Management is a process used to identify potential risks and understand what to do if you encounter them.
  4. Operations, also known as finance and administration, is essential to every organization.
  5. Learn about the key aspects of Staff Management.
  6. Volunteer Involvement is more than finding a few people to help you. You must be aware of the ethics, recruitment, and risks involved. You can use this guide to ensure meaningful volunteer engagement. Volunteer Canada has a great website that you can find more resources at.
  7. Advocacy means speaking up for communities and people that may otherwise go undetected. Learn the rules, regulations, and best practices that could affect your work.
  8. Continual Evaluation will provide necessary feedback on how your organization is doing. It can also be used to plan future endeavours. (NEED THIS FILE)
  9. Asset Management will help you budget and plan for the future. It is an important part of ensuring your project is viable for years to come.

Additional Resources

Here are an extra few helpful resources for developing your own space:

Arts Habitat is a not-for-profit organization that has, over the last 10 years, engaged in finding, managing, and developing space for the artistic community. As a social purpose organization, Arts Habitat believes in creating value through our projects, advocacy, and partnerships with a variety of others in the following ways:

  • Real estate development
  • Property management
  • Performance and event services
  • Consulting and knowledge sharing
  • Community animation

If you would like more information, you can reach us by email.