The New Year is fast approaching and we turn to reflect on the year gone by. As a non-profit, we squeeze a lot into just 12 months, so it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of our team, participants and stakeholders.
Although 2019 was a challenging one in the arts and culture sector due to cuts in funding, we were able to develop our resiliency and use it to our advantage. We focused on expanding our support network and establishing exciting new partnerships, while deepening our ongoing relationships. It’s through these stronger connections that we can look back and feel truly grateful about the past year:
Our partnership with the Gardiner Museum has allowed us to host two events in their incredible space. The first being ‘A Story of Perseverance’ – a conversation with Art Starts Program Manager, Nicole Marcano about her experience working in community arts for over 10 years.
The second event, ‘Hair We Are’, was a collaboration with VIBE Arts to present an exhibition in the form of a contemporary beauty salon. The artwork, created by participants of our OWN IT: Girls Mentorship Program, aimed to shatter misconceptions around black hair and encourage conversation.
The ‘Satellite Workshops’ series was a partnership between Art Starts and many other organizations: Art Ignite, Stolen from Africa, North York Arts and Mal Pensando. These free workshops were geared towards helping artists with their personal and professional development and were offered citywide.
These workshops explored everything from public speaking, to accounting 101 for artists and creatives. Artists from all disciplines were able to learn new skills, make valuable connections and learn more about organizations that can support them.
After a very successful session at the AGO our second ‘Free Headshots for Artists’ event was held again at the Toronto Media Arts Centre. The centre kindly lent us their space so that over 120 artists could get their headshot taken.
We were able to work with an amazing team of photographers: Martha Lopez, Neda Durovski, Jayson Warbucks, Maira Ribeiro who were booked back to back on the day of the event.
‘The Colour Wheel Project’ was a colourful and cohesive work of multidisciplinary performance art based on artist Jacquie Comrie Garrido’s visual works. The piece consisted of Afro-Caribbean dance, samba drums and one-of-a-kind costumes created by lead visual artists, designers, dancers, musicians and a team of 8 youth artists.
The flashmob appeared at three different locations in Toronto on the night of Nuit Blanche with the help of over 12 hardworking volunteers. A special thanks to the ‘TD Latinos in Leadership Volunteers’ for their involvement in the project.
Ryerson University’s third-year design students have chosen to work with Art Starts in imagining more vibrant and inclusive spaces where people can gather and celebrate our communities. We were able to share our best practices in how spaces can be decolonized and indigenized, connecting with dozens of students who learned about our organization and the work we have been doing in Toronto for the past 27 years.
This summer, our partnership with York-Eglinton BIA and over 15 local artists allowed us to animate Glenholme Avenue with our Street Art Festival. This free festival invited the community to engage in a variety of art-making activities and performances.
Over 300 people attended the festival and new connections were made with politicians of the area. MP Marco Mendicino and Dr. Jill Andrew came by to enjoy the festival and Jill even presented Art Starts with an award of recognition for the work we have been doing in the Eglinton and Oakwood area since 1992.
Our international partnership with the Government of Panama and the Olga Sinclair Foundation has helped to recognize an emerging artist we’ve worked with many times before, Jacquie Comrie Garrido, and provide new opportunities to youth.
The Olga Sinclair Foundation awarded five youth artists the chance to work with Jacquie in our studio. Jacquie also received the honour of presenting her artwork at the celebration of the 198th Anniversary of Independence of Panama. She received recognition by the City Council and the Latin American Bilateral Trade Initiative (LABTI). The event was curated by Claudia Arana, another emerging artist Art Start has also supported.
Thanks to TakingItGlobal and Adobe we were gifted a one year license for Adobe Creative Cloud. We were able to introduce this software to our youth participants and teach them new skills in photo editing and manipulation. This generous gift also allowed us to save on subscription fees and incorporate more digital media in our programming.
We are excited to announce our new partnership with Second Harvest – Canada’s largest food rescue charity. This partnership will allow us to access free healthy food donated by local businesses to supplement our food budgets for our programs. We will also be able to bring food experts in to our programs to teach our youth, adults and seniors about healthy eating and food preparation.
We are also thrilled to be part of a growing partnership with Microsoft, whereby our program participants will have access to free digital arts programming at the Microsoft workshop space in Yorkdale Shopping Centre. We are hoping to kick off exploring this collaboration in 2020.
We have continued to evolve and grow our recurring partnerships with Shoppers, United Way, Toronto Community Housing and Manulife, remaining dedicated towards supporting the creative capacity of young people in underserved communities.
Looking back, the diversity and reach of our projects and programs wouldn’t be possible without these amazing partnerships we’ve established. We are grateful to have such powerful organizations and change-makers on our side and hope 2020 will be just as abundant in opportunity.