Public Launch of Project: Under Gardiner
Project: Under Gardiner is a groundbreaking public planning initiative in Toronto that will transform a forgotten space into a vibrant cultural destination. This 1.75km cultural corridor under the Gardiner expressway is set to open in 2017.
Bespoke was hired by the Matthews Foundation to plan and execute the public launch for Project: Under Gardiner. While the expressway has long be a symbol of division in Toronto, we positioned the initiative as an opportunity to imagine the possibilities by inviting the public to “dream up what can only happen here”. We led a fast-moving and robust communication strategy that included key messaging, a visual look-and-feel, and the production of a wide range of communication assets.
The following launch video was directed by Gady Conteh-George of Mattru Media and produced by Bespoke
Public Installation for Project: Under Gardiner
To signal the transformation underway and publicly celebrate Project: Under Gardiner, Bespoke conceptualized and project managed the creation of 40-foot high public installation based on the project's temporary logo. The iconic ‘yellow bent’ installation was unveiled at the launch of Project: Under Gardiner and was featured in a number of news, print and social media reporting including Global News, The Toronto Sun, and urbantoronto.ca.
Photo Credit: Harry Choi
Messaging and Strategic Communications
Bespoke positioned Project: Under Gardiner as an opportunity to re-imagine the city and ‘dream up what can only happen here’. Our strategic communications work conveyed the sense of possibility for the site, which has garnered national and international press and media coverage, and spread created excitement across the city.
The following image was designed by Carolina Soderholm of DesignHolmen and conceived by Bespoke.
Strategic Planning and Community Engagement Model
The School of the Art Institute (SAIC) approached Bespoke to develop a strategic plan to guide a creative community engagement initiative for their new satellite campus at Homan Square. The main ambition for this project was to create an artist-based and neighborhood-led initiative that can support cultural revitalization in an under-invested neighbourhood in the West side community of North Lawndale.
-Interior of Homan Square, prior to renovations, courtesy of the Homan Square Foundation.
Bespoke worked closely with SAIC’s Office of Community Engagement and facilitated a half-day visioning session with artists, faculty and staff, to discuss what community engagement means within the complex context of Chicago. From this visioning session we identified relevant best practice precedents that harness the incredible assets of SAIC, as well as engage local artists and neighborhood stakeholders. We also worked with the client to think through how the arts can be a catalyst for addressing real concerns.
- image of SAIC Day of Service, 2016.
The results of our work are proving instrumental to the partnership between Homan Square and SAIC. SAIC is currently studying the feasibility of the proposed initiatives and Bespoke’s research has been integrated into the curriculum as a teaching aid for cultural planning and community engagement. Our final planning report proposed guiding principles, a governance model and rollout plan to establish meaningful collaborations amongst communities, citizen artists and institutions.
Facilitation and Foresighting
Creativity Matters is an educational campaign focused on building creative capacity in K-12 schools across the US. Bespoke was engaged by the Sam Francis Foundation to lead over 120 thought leaders in mapping out the future of creativity. After months of research into the future of creativity, we designed and facilitated a provocative roundtable series that unpacked what it would take for creativity to become a core social value. We hosted three day long work sessions at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Attendees where guided through a interactive scenarios planning process where they explored how creativity will shape work, home, education and community life ten years into the future. As an outcome of this consultation, Bespoke synthesized the sessions into a summary report that outlined the core challenges that need to be addressed moving forward.
Communications Assets & City-Wide Outreach
To capture the imagination of Torontonians throughout the city, we designed a pop-up headquarters at Spacing the store, where the public could contribute their naming ideas, pick up a project button and learn more about the project. We hosted 31 naming brainstorm parties throughout the city reaching kindergartners to seniors.
Online we created a DIY naming party toolkit to encourage citizens to have fun and generate informed suggestions. Once our jury identified the strongest options for names, we commissioned four local artists – a yarn bomber, graffiti artist, illustrator and collage maker—to celebrate the potential in each shortlisted name. Their work became the creative inspiration for the public to vote on their favorite name. Over 500 votes were cast before the Bentway was chosen as the final name.
Communications Campaign & Public Engagement
Bespoke worked in close collaboration with Waterfront Toronto to design a public engagement campaign that invited Torontonians to join a citywide naming brainstorm for the new cultural corridor under the Gardiner. To ensure that this site belongs to the public in a meaningful way, we wanted to take this as an opportunity to reclaim this neglected space.
Our engagement strategy was centered on building awareness through active participation over nearly four months of activity. We held brainstorming parties and designed engagement opportunities that landed us on 884 unique suggestions, which were narrowed down through a jury shortlist that then went back to public vote. Bespoke conceptualized, designed and project managed the entire campaign.
Audience Definition & Analysis, Personas to Support Messaging
Working in collaboration with Bruce Mau Design, who were redeveloping branding for the Kennedy Center, Bespoke embarked upon a fast paced and in-depth research process into who the Kennedy Center's current audiences are and what potential there is for growth as the institution’s vision evolves. We conducted international benchmarking, looked to emerging trends and best practice research, surveyed over 200 current attendees and led a series of focus groups and one-on-one interviews with under-represented audiences, staff, and thought leaders.
Our research was centered on what motivates different types of audiences to engage with the institution and why the arts matters for them. We developed a range of targeted personas that could be used to develop messaging and strengthen cultural participation.
Vision & Planning for Audience Engagement Zone
The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago) has been engaging Bespoke on an ongoing basis since 2012 to work on communications, cultural planning and to strengthen audience engagement.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA) is a thought-provoking museum devoted to the art of our time. Most recently, Bespoke worked with the MCA’s senior leadership to develop the vision for a major renovation and capital campaign. We spearheaded research and consultation focused on how cultural spaces will engage audiences in the future. This work culminated in an intensive design charrette that brought together world-leading cultural experts, senior staff and the architecture team who participated in a day long planning session mapping out new strategies for audience engagement. Bespoke then delivered a final report that identified spatial qualities for the design, as well as guiding principles to ensure the integrity of the visitor experience.
A rendering of the Commons, a hybrid lounge-workshop-performance space, designed by Pedro y Juana, c/o New York Times.
Communications & Vision for a New Program
We worked with the education team and took a close look at their programming to develop targeted messaging across specific audiences—families, creative professionals, youth, artists and culturally curious locals. At the same time, we worked with the education team on identifying what the common ground was for communications across their broad range of programming.
We recently worked with their Schools & Teachers Program to develop a bold, groundbreaking and radical vision for a long term educational program that will be rolled out across fourteen high schools in Chicago over the next five years. Through a deeply collaborative process, we supported their education team in developing a vision statement, strategic goals, a programming model, implementation plan and one million dollar budget. We then worked closely with the MCA’s development team to create a clear and compelling turnkey presentation that successfully secured fundraising targets.
Interpretation & Visitor Research
When the MCA launched a conceptually challenging contemporary group exhibition—Bespoke was hired in to develop a clear interpretation strategy and ensure a strong editorial voice for the show.
During this time we conducted visitor research to better understand the needs of audiences in attendance. Through exist surveys, in-gallery observational research, one-on-one interviews and the use of a net promoter score we assessed the overall quality of the visitor experience. From this research we provided baseline recommendations for how the museum could improve their offerings and we also designed a research methodology for how MCA could continue to conduct research internally.
Strategic Communications and Messaging
The Fogo Island Inn is a one-of-a-kind and groundbreaking cultural revitalization project in Newfoundland. Bespoke was hired in to help define how they should publicly speak about this new cultural destination and its emerging contemporary outport aesthetic.
Bespoke embarked upon an intensive research process to learn about the Island’s cultural heritage and the social entrepreneurship model being established. We interviewed key contributors to the project from local craftsmen, historians, and quilt-makers alongside international designers, artists and architects to build a unique approach to messaging.
Bespoke identified key communication insights to guide Fogo Island Inn in the lead up to its public launch. We established the tone of voice and a community-centered approach for their website to ensure that the Inn stood apart from the tourism marketplace. We conducted a series of in-depth interviews with key community contributors and used that as a spring board to create foundational messaging related to the island’s trails, seven seasons and the experience of visiting the Inn.
Strategic Planning, Naming & Communications Assets
The Pavilion Project is a non-profit initiative of local relevance and international distinction that is looking to celebrate experimentation in architecture through the commissioning of a temporary pavilion that tests the limits of design. Located in Toronto but travelling, it is place to be, a place to build community and a catalyst for transforming neighborhoods.
Bespoke worked in close collaboration with the Board to develop a baseline strategic plan—the project’s overarching vision and core differentiators, an overview of the competition model alongside opportunities for potential partners and donors. We facilitated a naming process amongst the board at the same time as we designed a turnkey presentation to be used with potential fundraisers. We continue to steward the messaging and vision.
Public Art Planning and Visitor Experience Design
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame was looking to establish a physical presence within the Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York, Toronto, to fulfill its mandate to celebrate Canada’s rich songwriting heritage. Bespoke was hired to plan a series of public art installations as part of a larger visitor experience strategy and feasibility study.
Our recommendation was that the greatest opportunity for a rich visitor experience was a multi-sensory and emotional journey through the form, structure and performance of songs. From this starting point, we provided recommendations on the curatorial approach, implementation plans, project budget and developed the preliminary exhibit design.
Strategic Planning, Research and Exhibition Design
In 1964 the Berkeley campus became the epicentre of a global countercultural revolution in American society. Although Berkeley’s heritage of radical politics is well known, its accompanying design legacy remains largely ignored. Design Radicals: Berkeley in the ‘60s pulled together, for the first time, a collection of design projects conceived in and around Berkeley that were intend to revolutionize postwar life.
Bespoke was enlisted to respond, reevaluate, and reveal this vibrant cultural history to a new generation of designers—through a public exhibition, symposium and publication which coincided with Berkeley's 2014 commemoration of the legendary Free Speech Movement.
- pictured is an archival image repurposed as a communication asset
Bespoke Cultural Collective is a unique cultural consultancy specializing in strategic communications, community engagement and cultural planning.
Project: Under Gardiner
Project: Under Gardiner is a new public park in Toronto, Canada that will transform a forgotten space under an expressway into a vibrant urban trail and cultural destination.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The School of the Art Institute (SAIC) approached Bespoke to develop a strategic plan to guide community engagement and creative initiatives for a new campus they have developed in the west side community of North Lawndale at Homan Square.
Creativity Matters is an educational campaign focused on building creative capacity in K-12 schools across the US.