Arts in the Parks Toolkit: a Vital New Guide to Animating Local Parks

Toronto Arts Foundation presents insights and expertise from its successful Arts in the Parks program in new online guide to facilitating arts programming in neighbourhood parks.

Toronto Arts Foundation, in partnership with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, is sharing its expertise animating local parks with the launch of the new Arts in the Parks Toolkit. This in-depth online resource is aimed at helping community organizations and municipalities plan their own arts events in parks.

AITP is a strategic initiative of Toronto Arts Foundation in partnership with Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and Park People.

Launched in 2016 by the Toronto Arts Foundation (TAF), Arts in the Parks (AITP) is a free, annual, summer-long initiative that brings arts events to more than 30 parks in every corner of the city, from Etobicoke to Scarborough to North York to the downtown core. Family-friendly events include outdoor theatre performances, music concerts, film nights, and workshops for kids and their families.

Four summers later, the success of the program has been remarkable – to date, AITP has animated 55 parks with nearly 600 artist-produced events, reaching 331,000 people in neighbourhoods across the city.

“We are pleased to share our Arts in the Parks journey with others who are interested in animating parks with arts,” said Claire Hopkinson, Director and CEO, Toronto Arts Council. “We offer this toolkit as a way to share our findings and hope it will serve as a guide for community visionaries to tap into the transformative power of the arts in public spaces. Special thanks to Mayor John Tory for being a great champion of the program and to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting the development of this resource.”

Toronto Arts Foundation’s research reveals that the arts have much to offer communities. Programs like Arts in the Parks encourage people to explore their own creativity, enjoy parks in a new way, and enliven their neighbourhoods and their lives.

The toolkit, which can be accessed on the TAF website and also downloaded as a PDF, is a guide to help navigate the logistical, financial, and artistic considerations involved in producing arts events in parks and other public spaces, including sections on planning, partnerships, fundraising, outreach and engagement, communications, and evaluation – all in an accessible, easy-to-read format that includes key statistics, case studies, and useful tips.

The toolkit can be used by large and small communities alike and will be shared widely through Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Knowledge Centre.

“Cities and towns across Ontario are simultaneously thinking about how to create greater access to the arts and how to animate their local parks. Now there is a resource communities can turn to for guidance and inspiration,” said Liz Forberg, Strategy Lead, Ontario Trillium Foundation. “We are so glad to have partnered with the Toronto Arts Foundation to harness all they have learned through the incredible success of their Arts in the Parks program, and we look forward to what it will inspire in communities across Ontario.”

-from Art in the Parks

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