Affordable, suitable, secure space for nonprofits, social enterprises and artists can be hard to find.
SPRE has developed this webpage to help organizations maximize finding the right space for their needs. You will find tips and as well as links to organizations and/or resources to help. FIND SPACE is an evolving resource--if you know of links that would be good to add, please let us know at SPRE.Facilitator@gmail.ca.
It takes time and energy to find that perfectly affordable, suitable, secure space!
Finding space can take time and energy. The more organized you are, the more successful you will be. SPRE wants you to be efficient in your search AND successful finding the right kind of space. The following are some tips to help you on that path. Below the tips are links to help you in your search.
Know what you are looking for. Take the time to understand what you have, what your programs and services need, what your growth potential is (ie. don’t go looking for a space you’ll need to move from in 5 years). Consider things such as, has your space needs changed since the Covid19 pandemic? Will those changes continue in the long term? Consider all factors.
Give yourself time. What is your timeframe (do you need to move in 2 years or 2 months); build the search into your strategic plan—and allocate time and resources to finding that affordable, suitable, secure space that helps grow your practise, organization and impact.
Know your sq ft needs. Empower yourself by having a clear sense of the ‘net usable’ sqft you are looking for, and, the kind of amenities you need such as washrooms, kitchen, car or bike parking. If you are unsure of how to talk about you sqft needs, check out SPRE’s RENT LEASE OWN Terminology.
Know your budget. Whether monthly or annual, know what you can afford.
Know your zoning and building code requirements. Different types of spaces and uses have different restrictions. Do you need light or heavy industrial space, office or meeting rooms, or gathering or assembly space? What will you be using the space for? Who will be in the space? Check with your local municipal planning, development or permit departments—they will be happy to help you understand the local zoning and bulding code requirements. You will save masses of time, money and potential headaches by understanding what you need and where it might fit, before you move in!
Know your geographical preferences. Where do you want your space to be located? Near transit, near where your audiences/participants live? Part of a geographic concentration of like organizations, programs and services? Can you afford to be picky with the kind of spaces you want, or do you need to consider prioritizing and compromises?
Engage a professional. Realtors know the market. Find the right one and use them effectively; they can help with finding the space and negotiating rates and agreements.
Talk to your community. You won’t be the first organization or artist looking for space. Talk to others in your network who have successfully moved through the process. What did they do that really helped them in their search for space, or alternatively, any pitfalls?
Consider sharing space or co-locating. Increasingly not-for-profits, social enterprises and artists co-locate and share spaces. This occurs most particularly in tight real estate markets, but also because, co-location/sharing offers many opportunities for innovation, inclusion, and collaboration between sharing partners. Sharing space doesn't require every partner be in the same sector, or deliver the same programs. It does however, need a shared send of values and complimentary space needs. What kind of space do the sharing partners need and when? Can some use it in the evenings and others in the day? Are there ebbs and flows throughout a festival season, for example, that might create an ideal situation for sharing space? Look for organizations/partners that share your values, and engage in a rigorous relationship exploration with them. For more on shared spaces and co-locations have a look at one of SPRE’s partners, the Non-profit Centers Network for an array of resources on sharing co/locating space.
Organizational readiness. Finally, make sure your entire organization is ready for the space search/move. Engage your board, staff, donors, volunteers and as appropriate your stakeholders. Make sure key decision makers are on board, enabling you to act when the opportunity arises.
Who has space? Try your municipality, foundations, other non profits, Craig's List -- all have been known to work!
Municipalities: All municipalities have space—they question is, do they have any available for the period you are interested in (ie not being used for municipal purposes), is it the kind of space you need, and is it the kind of arrangement you want (cost, requirements, restrictions, term) ? Many municipalities will provide space at nominal, low market or market rates. Talk to the social/cultural liaisons at the municipality and check out their real estate departments listing. As an example, see the City of Vancouver’s Properties, buildings and land for sale or lease by the City of Vancouver
Space Inventories: Many municipalities through their cultural or social developments have inventories of spaces in their City. Victoria, Vancouver and North Vancouver all have cultural spaces mapped by geographic location. Check out these great resources, and others in your home community. www.northvanarts.ca www.artsvictoria.ca and Vancouver Cultural Spaces
Space Providers/Developers: There are many organizations that develop and provide space for others. In many cases these are shared spaces/co-locations or HUBS. Check out the following links to see if this might be an option for your organization.
Community Impact Real Estate CIRES Portfolio – Available Units
Community Land Trust Community Land Trust Portfolio - Current
312 Main – A Centre for Social and Economic Innovation 312 Main
221A - Social, Cultural and Ecological Infrastructure for artists and designer https://www. 221a.ca
Parker Art Salon http://www.parkerartsalon.com/
Short term rental spaces: Here are a few of the many online search platforms for short term rental spaces.
Co-working: Co-working spaces are now abundant in many cities and small towns. Many are not-for-profit and offer great rates, services and community engagement. For a directory of co-working spaces in BC, try the Coworking BC Society at https://coworkingbc.ca/
Other options: Craigslist, social media, Facebook groups are all excellent ways to find space—particularly spaces for artists and smaller organizations. There are too many options to list here, but well worth the effort for the artist or organization looking for space.