How Toronto Public Library exploits charities and authors alike

One very disturbing practice in Toronto as compared to other cities across Canada is how taxpayer-supported public facilities have been taken over by apparent cliques, which exploit these spaces for private and commercial gain.

I work for a not-for-profit and charitable organization, which seeks to serve authors and artisans while supporting literacy and a food drive for the homeless and working poor.

I have become quite disturbed seeing some of my fellow Torontonians rummaging through garbage cans for food.

With that being said, in our efforts to find a venue in Toronto, I was quite shocked at the exploitative basic rent charges of such public institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO),  Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Ryerson, and their inflated private catering charges.

Finally, we settled for the 'Bram and Bluma Appel Salon' on the second floor of the Toronto Public Library, which seemed to be more reasonable than all the other crazy prices for renting bare rooms at local museums, community college, universities, and other such taxpayer-supported venues in Toronto.

Having settled on this Toronto Public Library facility, the savings in renting their Salon though shockingly began to be erased by surcharges from their private subcontractors.

For example, can you believe that they sought to charge us nearly $1000 just to rent one microphone for a few hours?

This was about 10 times the cost of our getting a microphone system on our own.

Their subcontractor also sought to charge over four times more on setting-up booths for our authors and artisans.

They were even blocking our authors and artisans from bringing their own tablecloths so they could charge us for that too!

So, you might think, why didn't we just get services from these cheaper private contractors?

No dice!  That's because of apparent exclusive “Sweetheart" deals that these private subcontractors have with the Toronto Public Library, which prevents any not-for-profit and charitable organizations from approaching far cheaper subcontractors.

When we tried to look at the Salon before we had rented it, did you know that the security guards blocked second floor Toronto Public librarians from showing the facility?

It is therefore apparent that the Salon is being run by some private clique at the Library that is responsible for commandeering exploitative commercial arrangements on behalf of the clique.

How is the Toronto Public Library system being allowed to have these apparent sweetheart arrangements with commercial interests?

Do they have no shame in taking away vitally needed money from charitable causes; but also how their exploitation subverts the ability of organizations to support cultural life in our city?

How are these commercial subcontractors being allowed to take money out of charitable causes likeours and into the pockets of exploitative monopolies?

As a result of the prevailing coronavirus situation, all our investment made in the marketing of our event under the exploitative conditions imposed by the Toronto Public Library has now been swallowed-up as a result of the State of Emergency Public Health decree.

Thanks to the Toronto Public Library, our efforts to support authors, artisans, literacy, and a food drive has turned into a mountain of debt.

The Bluma and Appel Salon should be responsibly operated as a community space for not-for-profit and charitable organizations in Toronto in order to support fundraising and cultural life, and ought not to represent an opportunity for a clique at the library to use such space for profiteering.  No private company should be allowed to have a monopoly on servicing organizations using that space.

Furthermore, organizations like ourselves that had cancelled events as a result of the coronavirus deserve compensation and should not be left with mountains of debt.

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There are 1 comments on this post

Most of these prime rental spaces in art institutions etc. are run by foundations whose mandate is to raise funds FOR THOSE institutions. Their target market is the gala-going crowd with deep pockets. So no, they are not particularly concerned about supporting other charities.
If your budget is limited you might have to consider seeking out some less chi-chi spaces.
(Apologies for multiple postings. They don’t seem to be going through?)

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