Kim is an artist, arts advocate and cultural leader living in Toronto. Coming from an arts administrator and teacher background, Kim was hired as Administrations Manager for Art Starts in 2010.
She grew with the organization as our staff, communities and overall impact expanded, and eventually became Director of Operations. With Kim onboard, the Art Starts transformed from a grassroots organization into a recognized leader in the community arts sector.
With an impressive 20 year history in the community arts field, Kim strongly believes in community engagement, social justice, and that art is a unifying language.
Art Starts is celebrating 30 years in October 2022 and as a way to commemorate our past and future, we’re spotlighting our top 30 supporters. From artists to community members, these features will look at their meaningful contributions to our organization and visions for the future.
What was your first experience with Art Starts?
My first experience with Art Starts was being hired as Administrations Manager in 2010. I was working as an arts administrator and teacher in Mississauga while living in Toronto and was looking for a job closer to home when I came across Art Starts. It felt like the place I belonged from day one!
I grew with the organization over 5 years into the Director of Operations, as well as having opportunities to take on and manage special projects and facilitate selected Art Starts programs and fundraisers. I appreciate that while I was there in a primarily administrative capacity, the team never overlooked my facilitation and teaching background as an artist and always found ways for me to get out from behind my desk and get creative with our participants and stakeholders.
How did this shape your perception of art and its impact on community?
Art Starts was vital in shaping my foundation and beliefs in the power of community arts. While I had worked in arts programming at a community level previously, Art Starts, its staff and programs were integral in my understanding and ability to vocalize WHY it is important and how it can be utilized to change lives.
I was lucky enough to work with some of the most talented people I have ever met at Art Starts and learned so much about collaboration, reciprocation, relationship building and more from my fellow staff and artists alike. What I learned from them I will take with me and help shape me for my entire life.
Tell me about your favourite memory, program or experience with Art Starts?
Personally, my favourite memory during my time at Art Starts was in 2014. In my role, I was tasked with managing a number of special projects including the Platform A artist micro-grants initiative. Being able to work with the artists from application through execution of their projects – resulting in a final artist showcase filled with exhibitions and performances – was incredibly fulfilling. The culmination of the showcase was being led in a large group dance by Indigenous artist, Lindy Kinoshemeg, and watching nearly 75 people all rise together in celebration – the electric energy was palpable and literally brought tears to my eyes.
Tell me about a time that art made a difference in your life?
Art has made many important differences throughout my life, but most importantly, when I was a teenager. I was bullied in school which took a huge toll on my self-esteem and self-confidence. Often having a hard time socially, I spent a lot of time by myself drawing. It’s through positive feedback and encouragement of my talents through art teachers in my life and getting accepted to OCAD University that really turned the tide in believing that I had self-worth and something to offer the world. Moving to Toronto for school and finding more like-minded people and artists was the first time I felt like I had a tribe. From there I was dedicated to not only pursuing art, but fostering a love of creative expression in those around me.
What does community arts mean to you?
Community art is art with a social purpose. Whether through consultation, facilitation, interaction or engagement, community art is more than just art for the artists’ sake. It’s art meant for collaboration, connecting and unifying, uplifting and inspiring communities of people. The great thing about community arts is it’s also not just about geographic communities, it outreaches to any community or groups of people that have a uniting tie.
How have you seen Art Starts evolve?
When I started with Art Starts in 2010, we were a small staff team working in 3-4 neighbourhoods and had just moved into the Yorkdale Community Arts Centre. Everything was still very grassroots in approach and over the years I watched the organization grow leaps and bounds in the size of their staff team, the number and groups of participants served, their administrative capacity, the awards won, the new sponsors and projects and overall impact felt. From the grassroots organization I once joined, Art Starts is now a pillar and recognized leader in the community arts field.
You can learn more about Kim and her work on her website kimdayman.com.