“UrbanArts stands in solidarity with our Black residents, clients and colleagues of all ages. As a local arts service organization that has served the York South-Weston and broader former City of York for the past 32 years, we are also impacted by all that has been taking place around the world, in the U.S., and yes, right here in Canada too. It has been a very difficult time for all of us but in particular for our Black staff, Black program participants, Black board members, Black colleagues and Black friends who continue to face ongoing forms of Anti-Black racism.
To our Black artists and residents to whom we have been providing innovative arts programs over the years, we are here for you, we are listening, and we care. UrbanArts is a place to share and learn from our varied cultural experiences and we are proud to stand in support of Black communities across the globe, particularly those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the police and violence. We recognize that institutions and policies in Canada are built largely on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, oppression, and injustice and we must do the work to dismantle these systems of oppression.
The collective and individual traumas being experienced are extremely challenging. Anti-Black Racism is a public health crisis and we need more community-based resources to support the critical work we do with our Black residents and other racialized groups in York South-Weston. The work required to combat societal injustices cannot be done by the Black community alone. We need the dedicated support of all our community members, businesses and all governmental levels to work alongside Black communities.
As an organization with primarily Black clients, we are committed to using the arts as not only a space for expression but community healing. These initiatives also connect diverse people and build an inclusive and equitable community. The need to better serve our diverse community was the catalyst that gave rise to an organizational shift 2002 to address the emerging needs of our local youth, changing our name from Arts York to UrbanArts to better reflect where we were heading; implementing programs and services that use the arts as impetus for social change and ensuring that our staff, board and volunteers continually reflect the community we serve.
UrbanArts plays an extremely vital role in the development of artists of all genres and at all stages of their careers including mentoring fledgling and grassroots Black arts groups and organizations in York South-Weston and the former City of York. UrbanArts also prides itself on working collaboratively with many diverse local and other community organizations to achieve our goals, we will continue to do so. We invite our partners, supporters and friends to ramp up your support for the work we do and for those we serve. There are many ways you can support and take action with, and on behalf of the Black community including:
- Taking time to educate yourselves on the issues and challenges that Black Canadians face daily Confronting Anti-Black Racism; Anti-Black Racism; Anti-Black Racism & Mental Health (Courtesy, City of Toronto)
- Holding yourselves and those around you accountable for all acts of racism, prejudice and micro-aggressions
- Amplifying your voices while checking your privilege
- Supporting local Black-owned businesses to help make this community and city the vibrant place we all call home. Here, for you, is a link to 100+ Black businesses you can support.
- Lastly, but by no means least, we ask that you generously invest your time and resources in community organizations that are committed to supporting and engaging Black and other residents of colour.
Along with organizations serving the Black community in York South-Weston, here is a list of Black organizations and/or programs across the City you can support.
In solidarity towards a healthy, equitable co-existence