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Profile Highlight | Suitcase Theatre (Toronto)

As ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory grows, we realize that it’s a bit overwhelming to read through all of the profiles. We’re hoping that by occasionally highlighting some profiles on our blog, you may learn about an initiative that you may not have initially seen in the directory. Also, if you know of a Canadian community-engaged arts for social change initiative that isn’t in our directory, but should be, please let us know! We love and need your input/feedback in building this resource! -Lisa, Content Coordinator at ArtBridges.

Suitcase Theatre is a registered charitable organization that was founded by the original producer and creator of Mr. Dressup, one of Canada’s most loved and longest running children’s television shows. The theatre group performs at daycares, schools, hospitals, community centres, festivals and special events across Ontario. We also offer dynamic after school programs, camps and class workshops that focus on drama, improv, comedy, singing, dancing and the visual arts.

Our goal is simple: we encourage everyone to discover their creativity and love of live theatre regardless of income or circumstance.”

To read more about Suitcase Theatre, please see their profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Video: True Heart – The Value of Art (Art Starts)

Art Starts asked participants in their True Heart program “What has art started in your life?” watch their responses above.

Art Starts creates vibrant Toronto neighbourhoods through community-building arts initiatives. We bring together professional artists and residents of all ages to create dynamic and accessible arts projects that are responsive to community needs and aspirations. We don’t create social change on our own; we collaborate, facilitate, and inspire.”

-from Art Starts
Read Art Starts profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Art Starts Annual Showcase (Dec 7, Toronto)

Art Starts Annual Showcase 2016
Art Starts celebrates its 2016 season with an art exhibit and performance extravaganza

“Award winning community arts organization Art Starts is proud to present its 2016 Showcase on Wednesday, December 7th, from 6pm-8pm at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. This free event features an open house, visual art, music and dance performances.

The event will celebrate city wide collaborations between artists and community members working in a variety of artistic disciplines. The Showcase unites people of all ages who have participated in Art Starts programs in the Eglinton-Oakwood, Villaways, Lawrence Heights and Glendower neighbourhoods in North York and Scarborough.

“I am very excited and invite you all to attend this unique exhibition,” says Special Projects Manager Julian Carvajal, “you will have the opportunity to connect, interact and experience the vibrant streets of our neighbourhoods”.

The evening will feature:

● Original music performances and testimonials by youth from the “Next Up” music program
● Youth from Lawrence Heights “Free the Streets” program present spoken word statements relating to themes of displacement, revitalization and gentrification
● Young artists from “ASAP” (After School Arts Program) showcase 3 skits and an original song
● “Learn the Bassics” children and youth will perform a bass rendition of their (surprise!) song of choice
● “Program Without Walls” mothers will perform a Flamenco Bellydance fusion under the guidance of award-winning dancer Anjelica Scannura
● A slide show featuring photography by our “True HeaART” youth participants
● A dance piece will be performed by Villaways participants who are experiencing the realities of displacement as their community is torn down and rebuilt
● Fashion displays by youth from “Kut x Sew” fashion program
● Live testimonials by artists and participants from a wide range of programs

“The Showcase will feature an abundance of talent, grass-roots collaboration and inspiring creativity”, says Art Starts Interim Executive Director Tamara Haberman.

Art Starts is a charitable organization that has been bringing professional artists and underserved communities together in community-building arts programs for over 23 years. They are the winners of Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2013 Arts for Youth Award.

WHO: Art Starts
WHAT: 2016 Program Showcase
WHEN: Wednesday December 7th, 2015. 6-8pm.
WHERE: Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge Street, North York

For more information, please visit or contact Program Director:”

What’s Your Beef? (Antyx Community Arts & Calgary Public Library)


Come Express the things that make you tick through an 8 week summer camp exploring video, photography & sound. Once you have had a chance to blow off some steam you will get the opportunity to showcase your digital creation for others to see.

Join Antyx Community Arts & Calgary Public Library for an upcoming summer project that allows youth to disprove the age, gender and location biases.

Date: Every Monday from July 4 – August 29, 2016
Time: 1:00PM – 2:30PM
Location: Calgary Public Library Saddletowne 150 – 7555 Falconridge Blvd NE, Calgary, AB T3J 0C9
Age: 12 – 18
Cost: Free

*Technical equipment will be provided

What experience do I need?
Prior experience with digital equipment is not required. Due to the small class size and open learning environment, each student receives ample personal attention and comes away with working knowledge of videography, photography, and digital story telling.

To register: e-mail

-submitted by Antyx Community Arts
Read Antyx’s profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

VIBE Arts Fest (June 8-11, Toronto)


“What’s Your Vibe? A Celebration for Creatives

The festival is free and open to all!

Showcasing VIBE Arts programs & celebrating Toronto’s next generation of artists! ! !

VIBE Arts Fest brings VIBE Arts’ program participants and artists from all over Toronto together to share creative energy, artistic skill, and community. Experience visual arts exhibitions, art activities, and performances from VIBE Arts’ children and youth participants, emerging artists, and Platform A micro-grant recipients.

June 8-11, 2016
Presented at the Aki Studio Theatre
585 Dundas St E #120″

-submited by VIBE Arts
Read VIBE Arts profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Profile Highlight: The Rap Camp (Stratford)

As ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory grows, we realize that it’s a bit overwhelming to read through all of the profiles. We’re hoping that by occasionally highlighting some profiles on our blog, you may learn about an initiative that you may not have initially seen in the directory. Also, if you know of a Canadian community-engaged arts for social change initiative that isn’t in our directory, but should be, please let us know! We love and need your input/feedback in building this resource! -Lisa, Content Coordinator at Artbridges.


The Rap Camp  “is a music production and songwriting workshop program for children and youth that seeks to create loving, encouraging spaces where young people are shown that by being vulnerable they can create excellence.” Its mission is to “create positive change through rap.”

To read more about The Rap Camp, please see their profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map.

Profile Highlight: Paint A Smile (Markham, ON)

As ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory grows, we realize that it’s a bit overwhelming to read through all of the profiles. We’re hoping that by occasionally highlighting some profiles on our blog, you may learn about an initiative that you may not have initially seen in the directory. Also, if you know of a Canadian community-engaged arts for social change initiative that isn’t in our directory, but should be, please let us know! We love and need your input/feedback in building this resource! -Lisa, Content Coordinator at Artbridges.

Art Workshop 1Logo (white background)

Paint A Smile brings art workshops into schools, hospitals and other facilities for kids and youth who are struggling in life. The workshops are taught by professional artists and the programs are custom-made to fit the art curriculum of different grades. Art helps kids and youth develop their confidence, personal-awareness, and self expression. Our workshops allow kids and youth to believe in themselves and see life in a different way that they might not have experienced before. We provide them with a medium and an outlet to embrace their inner artist and explore their dreams.”

To read more about Paint A Smile, please see their profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map.

First Nations Youth and DAREarts Connect Hockey and the Arts (Webequie, ON)


“First Nations Youth and DAREarts Connect Hockey and the Arts
Arts-based Program to Re-Frame the Culture of Sportsmanship
WEBEQUIE, ONTARIO (Marketwired – Feb. 16, 2016)

TODAY, youth and elders in the remote fly-in-only Aboriginal community of Webequie FN are putting their creativity to work as they embark on week-long artistic exploration of hockey, sportsmanship and culture. The NHLPA have donated hockey sweaters and Scotiabank Hockey have provided toques and TD MusiCounts and Long and McQuade have provided musical instruments for this special, hockey-arts team.

These youth are part of DAREarts First Roots, an arts-based Indigenous education program, facilitated by DAREarts artist-teachers, in partnership with the community. Over the last 8 years, they have worked together to address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and teen suicide.

Chief Cornelius Wabasse of Webequie FN explains, “We have our fair share of social problems here but the DAREarts program really seems to work with our students.” He continues, “The fact that it is arts-based means it is easy for our kids to adapt to and be good at, and so they want to come to school as a result.”

This week, DAREarts will blend the community’s love of hockey with the arts to address good sportsmanship, anti-bullying, culture and intergenerational collaboration. Guided by the DAREarts team of Indigenous artist Cathy Elliott, Juno-nominated musician Glen Marais, and Lead Teacher, Laura MacKinnon, along with community elders, the youth will explore the Indigenous history of hockey (they invented the game!), paint hockey masks and compose an original song to be performed with hockey moves and traditional dance at the community-wide PowPow on February 20th. The project will be posted on social media and showcased at DAREarts First Root Feast in Newmarket, ON February 25th.

Marilyn Field, DAREarts Founder says, “The personal growth in the youths as a result of their creating is nothing short of exceptional. We are so proud of them.” She continues, “With hockey and the arts, these youths will use art, words, music and dance to share an important message of good sportsmanship to all the community and beyond.”

DAREarts First Roots program is part of DAREarts’ national initiative to give underserved youth the confidence, courage and leadership skills to resist negative peer pressure so they can ignite positive change in their lives and in their communities. Due to the remoteness of Aboriginal communities, the DAREarts team flies into communities for one to three week-long periods to work alongside local Aboriginal artists and elders. In addition to Webequie, ON, DAREarts has been invited to numerous other First Nations communities and is currently seeking funding to meet these invitations.

DAREarts is a 20 year old national charity (#88691 7764 RR0002) that empowers underserved Canadian youth with the confidence and courage to ignite change as leaders, using innovative arts education. Recognized for its role in the development of leadership in at-risk kids across Canada, DAREarts continues to reach out to more communities across the country. DAREarts stands for Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence. DAREarts’ 5-year program works with 9-19 year olds from schools in underserved communities, empowering them to be leaders. For more information, visit or visit

DAREarts lead supporters are: Northbridge Insurance, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, TD and The Ontario Arts Council. Additionally, DAREarts First Roots program supporters include Noront Resources, Sarah Haney, Anne Livingston, Dave and Teresa Thomas, RBC Foundation, TD MusicCounts, Long and McQuade and the NHLPA.”

Posted with permission from Marilyn Field. All photos courtesy of DAREarts.
Read DAREarts’ profile on Artbridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map


Call for Art Supplies! Seeking art supplies for schools in remote First Nations communities


“The Art For Aid Project is working to establish a transportation network to get art supplies into remote schools.

If you know of someone who is in (or driving through) the Ottawa area and might consider bringing a box or two of supplies to a remote Canadian Aboriginal school. All boxes are open to inspection and determination of contents before being accepted for transport.

Currently, we will be looking for the means to send art supplies to schools in Nunavut in the following areas: Cambridge Bay, Coal Harbour, and Hall Beach.”

PLEASE SHARE WIDELY! Contact to get involved

Read the Art for Aid Project’s profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Classroom art exchange program creates exciting friendships between Aboriginal & non-Aboriginal youth


Pass The Feather To Me! A Classroom Art Exchange Program is creating exciting friendships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth, teachers and artists using visual culture to transcend logistic and financial barriers. We are creating co-operative and respectful interrelations for future generations.

While initiating creativity and re-visiting traditional Aboriginal teachings, the program aims to:
– Create friendships that exceed logistic and financial barriers
– Encourage healing and mitigate inter-generational trauma
– Create equality amongst Canada’s youth
– Develop informed opinions on matters relating to the culture of Aboriginal peoples and cultures
– Employ Aboriginal artists
– Include Aboriginal Elders
– Develop artistic skills
– Develop letter writing skills
– Show respect and reciprocation to our Elders and their teachings.

Art is our most powerful tool of expression in Aboriginal culture. Through visual culture Indigenous students, teachers and artists are more willing to reach out and re-conciliate with their non-Aboriginal peers and colleagues. It is empowering and important to the co-operative future of our nation.

Program Description:
– On reserve students in grades 5-8 are matched with their peers in a predominantly non-Aboriginal, multi-cultural, public school classroom
– They write autobiographical letters of introduction and mail them to their peers
– Students are presented a lesson plan based on Aboriginal culture
– Students create an art collaboration based on the subject matter and mail it to their peers
– Their peers receive the same lesson plan. Unpack the art collaboration and discuss
– Their peers create their own art project based on what they’ve learned about Aboriginal culture and mail it to their new friends on reserve
– Depending on educators, they may choose to continue with a Pen Pal program for keen students

Within the first three months of existence, our Classroom Art & Knowledge Exchange has accomplished:
– Inter-cultural Friendship: over 130 students have exchanged introductory / biographical letters
– Registration: Over 20 educators have registered, 6 have been accepted (due to finances)
– Global Recognition: Inquiries have been received from Maori and Mayan communities
– Art & Cultural Education: Art activity has been presented (rattle making) to students with cultural teaching
– Integration: Non-Aboriginal educators have transparent lesson plans to present to their students
– Employed Aboriginal Artists
– Provided Art Supplies to remote First Nations classroom
– Aboriginal Education: Aboriginal educators and students have been brought closer to traditional teachings through lesson plans, subject matter and artist visit.”

For more information about Pass the Feather to Me!, visit or contact Dawn Setford at to learn how you can help support this project.

Posted with permission from Dawn Setford
Read Aboriginal Arts Collective of Canada | Pass The Feather’s profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map