What is AMY Doing Now?

The AMY Project participants working together.

Founded in 2005 by Claire Calnan and Weyni Mengesha, The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project is a free program offered to young women between the ages of 14-24 living in the Greater Toronto Area. It is an educational arts project that nurtures the confidence and unique identity of emerging artists through developing their cultural vocabulary and skills of healthy, creative self-expression.

The participants typically meet once a week for a couple of months to rehearse and are provided with TTC tickets, attend live theatrical performances, share a free weekly meal, earn volunteer hours and cash honorariums for performing.

For each session of the AMY Project, there has been a theme that the participants have chosen to work around. Claire says, “A discussion ensues around various issues that young women face, and conversations start to emerge about what the group has in common.  Then, a theme for the session becomes established.”

A discussion ensues around various issues that young women face, and conversations start to emerge about what the group has in common.  Then, a theme for the session becomes established.

Past themes have included pressure, girl-on-girl hate, normal versus deviant, and values.

The AMY Project participants.

Each young woman receives a mentor, who works in the field that she wants to pursue. These mentors are highly accomplished women from the local community including Weyni Mengesha (director, da kink in my hair, blood claat), Nicole Stamp (actor and host of TVO Kids), d’bi.young (dub poet and actor, da kink in my hair), Nylda Gallardo, Camilla Singh and many more.

The mentors work with the participant for six hours and help create a piece of work that will be performed at Theatre Passe Muraille. In the past, participants have performed at Luminato Festival, the annual Lab Cab Festival, and ARC Fest (Arts for Real Change). They have received high praises and have been featured in Say Word and CanPlay.

Claire says, “A huge number of young people have helped create programs and The AMY Project is shaped through the people that help create it. So it changes over time.”

A huge number of young people have helped create programs and The AMY Project is shaped through the people that help create it. So it changes over time.

Young women who are interested in participating in the 2011 session of the AMY Project can contact Claire Calnan at whoismyamynow@yahoo.com or call 416-819-1612 to receive an application form. Deadline for applications is December 3, 2010. Space is limited.

The AMY Project receives project grants from numerous sources, such as Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Theatre Ontario and several private donors. Like The AMY Project on Facebook!

Aasana Sri is the Fall 2010 Communications Intern at the Toronto Arts Foundation.

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