Culture Days Launch 2012

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NAN celebrated with Culture Days 2012!

  • Performances by Regent Park artists including COBA and Juno Award-winning recording artist Sean Jones
  • Jian Ghomeshi  CBC Q, author and emcee
  • Antoni Cimolino – General Director and Artistic Director Designate, Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Chair, Culture Days National Steering Executive Committee
  • Mary De Paoli  Executive Vice-President, Chief Marketing Officer and Public & Corporate Affairs, Sun Life Financial
  • Michael Chan – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport



Samba Kidz Final Performance

Samba Kidz celebrates diverse art forms in Potluck, the final performance of their summer program.

Anthony didn’t know any dance moves before participating in the Samba Kidz Summer Program but he introduces himself by saying, “I’m a breakdancer.” His greeting is an indication of the confidence and artistic identity fostered by the Samba Kidz summer camp, which culminated in a final performance at Drum Artz Community Centre.

Other participants are seasoned members of Drum Artz programs. Lia attends Samba Kidz afterschool programs, where she was introduced to samba and steel pan. At the final performance however, she can’t pick just one favourite art form and exclaims that she likes ‘everything!’

Children, youth, volunteers and professional artists showcase the skills they developed during the month-long Samba Kidz Summer Program at Drum Artz Community Centre.

Samba Kidz encourages this kind of all-embracing attitude to the arts. Anthony explains, “We do break dancing, stilts, samba and steel pan.” All of these art forms are incorporated into Potluck, the final performance. In Potluck, children, youth, volunteers and professional artists share the skills that they developed during their time at camp. The show starts with an energizing Samba number led by one of the campers then, as the music fades, storytelling owls swoop on stage.

“We are here to tell you a story about an island called Potluck…”

When the island of Potluck is threatened by a storm, samba bunnies, break dancing frogs and steel pan parrots combine their talents to save their home.

Canisia Lubrin, who facilitated theme development, explains that the story originated in the central theme “earth of common threads” that the children identified during discussions. In developing the story Canisia’s goal was to ‘focus on the lived experience of the kids.’ Working together through the arts, the children ‘take what happens at the camp and show it in the performance.’ Canisia confirms that, “It all comes from the kids.” Lia adds that, “We added some lines that had to do with the characters,” and Canisia describes this as the process of ‘all the kids vibing off each other’ to create the finished product.

The Island of Potluck is home to break dancing frogs…

The Samba Kidz final performance integrates art forms into a magical spectacle of movement, music and storytelling. The scenes become more complex as each child contributes to the collective effort to ward off the storm and save the island. Potluck celebrates the skills of campers of all levels of experience and ends with a finale of music, dance, and even stilts, in which everyone participates.

…and steel pan parrots!

Drum Artz Canada (DAC) is a registered charity committed to making music and arts programming accessible to all people regardless of age, class, race, (dis)ability or gender. With a range of educational programs headed by professional artists, DAC encourages creative expression, team building, youth leadership and self-esteem.

Emily Macrae is the Neighbourhood Arts Network 2012 Summer Intern

Youth Arts Pitch Contest: Call for Artists

ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with City of Toronto Cultural Services, Art Gallery of Ontario and Manifesto invites you to participate in a pitch contest. If you are a young artist or a group of artists, between the ages of 16 and 29, we want to hear from you!

We want to discover and support some of Toronto’s finest innovative talent and encourage community participation through the arts!

Win $5,000 to support your community youth arts project, start your arts business or take your career to the next level!

The arts are a powerful and motivating way that youth can be involved in their communities. Whether it’s in someone’s basement, or through a community program – young people are creating art all over this city. ArtReach Toronto, City of Toronto Cultural Services, Art Gallery of Ontario and Manifesto want to support youth aspirations in the arts. We invite you to submit your ideas to us, which could land you a spot in front of an esteemed panel of judges for a live and interactive pitch contest!

To apply:

  • You must be an artist or part of a group of artists
  • You must be between the ages of 16 and 29
  • Developing an artistic project or are serious about your arts initiative
  • Have experienced barriers and those who are increasing access to the arts

ArtReach Toronto encourages artists working in a broad range of art forms to apply, including dance, drama, music, carnival and circus, film and video, TV and radio, new media, fashion, creative writing, visual arts, crafts, hip hop, design, multi-media, urban arts and more.

Nine lucky submissions will be chosen to pitch their ideas live on Friday September 21, 2012 for a chance to win one of three $5,000 prizes awarded to participants in the following categories:

  • Community Arts (i.e. theatre groups, collective of filmmakers etc.)
  • Creative Enterprise (i.e. singers, poets, MC’s, clothing designers etc.)

Exciting runner up prizes will contribute to bringing awareness to your project or art!


  • To enter, you must submit a two page (maximum) proposal answering the series of questions listed below, pitching your idea to the committee by the deadline of Friday August 17, 2012.
  • The nine lucky finalists chosen to make their pitch will be announced on August 30, 2012!  ALL finalists are required to attend a two-part workshop series entitled How To Make a Pitch. These sessions will be held on Wednesday, September 5thand Wednesday, September 12th, 2012.
  • Finalists will then pitch their ideas LIVE on Friday September 21, 2012 making a creative, energetic, inspiring and convincing presentation, pitch or performance in less than 5 minutes!!
  • A panel of knowledgeable, high profile judges will provide on the spot feedback to all finalists and award three winners with the grand prizes of the PITCH CONTEST!

Deadline for Entries: Friday August 17, 2012
Submissions are to be placed online.
The submission form is here:

If you have any questions, please feel to email us at or call Derick at 647-347-0086

Reflection at Gallery 44

Devonne Harbin, Untitled

A security camera, words scratched in sand, curving chrome chairs, a pair of roses, high school lockers. All of these objects are brought together in OUTREACH 2012 – Reflection, a powerful exhibition of black and white photographs by youth from five different community organizations on display at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography until July 28.

I spoke with soJin Chun, Head of Education at Gallery 44 and Devonne Harbin, a York University student and one of the participating artists from NIA Centre of the Arts about this year’s show.

Showing me her carefully composed photo of a window washer, Devonne explains “Really, it’s all about reflection.” Indeed, each photograph presents a different approach to the show’s central theme. From streetscapes to introspective portraits, Reflection showcases diverse artistic visions.

Raven Flynn

For soJin, film photography creates an opportunity for reflection. She explains that, in contrast to “our immediate culture, where we need instant gratification,” the tangibility of film photography encourages artists to frame each image and the development process rewards patience and precision. In fact, soJin believes that “being in the darkroom creates a community environment.” She describes developing film as “magical” and refreshingly “tactile” in a world where point and shoot digital photography is the norm. Devonne adds that, using the camera for artistic and individual expression at Gallery 44, she “rediscovered” photography after her initial exposure to the medium during high school.

Although OUTREACH is rooted in the tradition of film photography promoted by Gallery 44, the program is about more than image making. soJin confirms that the goal is to “push youth to think conceptually, think critically.” For each artist, the challenge is: “How can you make images that say something?”

In addition to conceiving, producing and exhibiting the show, a smaller group of youth also created an e-zine that integrates film photography with digital media. For Devonne, creating the e-zine was an opportunity to collaborate with youth from other community organizations and share ideas in a supportive setting. The Reflection e-zine presents photos from the exhibition as well as additional images and written reflections by the artists.

Visit OUTREACH 2012 – Reflection at G44’s Members’ Gallery at 401 Richmond until July 28.

Check out Reflection e-zine online.

Shawnee McComb

Participating Organizations

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a non-profit artist-run centre committed to the advancement of photographic art through education, exhibition, production and publication. The centre is supported by its members and patrons, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

519 Church St. Community Centre is the hub of community life in Toronto’s diverse Church and Wellesley Village. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited and queer (LGBTTQ) communities and our allies and friends have always found a welcoming place at The 519.

Eva’s Phoenix is a transitional housing and training facility, which formally opened in June 2000. This organization provides housing for 50 youth, aged 16-24 years, for up to a full year, and since 2002 has also allowed up to 160 youth each year, aged 16-29 years, to participate in its employment and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Harmony Movement was founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit charitable organization to combat interracial intolerance and to confront the “us versus them” attitude which was prevalent in Canadian society at the time. Its mandate is to promote diversity, bring awareness to and challenge all forms of discrimination that act as social and cultural barriers to individuals’ full participation in Canadian Society.

Native Learning Centre is a partnership with the Toronto District School Board. This program allows students to work at their own pace with one-on-one instruction, in a non-competitive environment.

NIA Centre for the Arts: NIA is a word of Kiswahili origins meaning purpose. In Arabic niyyah means intent, it is a way to judge someone’s actions. Our use of the word Nia represents our desire to support young people in finding their purpose. Nia Centre for the Arts is a community space focused on supporting the holistic advancement of Afro-Diasporic young people.

Emily Macrae is the Neighbourhood Arts Network Summer Intern

Nomanzland on the Mainstage: June 15-17

 From June 15 to 17, Young People’s Theatre presents Nomanzland: Known to Police.

In Known to Police, resident’s from Toronto’s most notorious intersection find themselves backed into a dystopian corner by ‘the Man’. Armed with art, a conscience and the echoes of the Arab Spring, they must decide whether to run, hide, stand their ground, or come out fighting. Known to Police is a celebration of the resilience, vibrancy and swag of a community that often finds itself on the wrong side of society’s ‘you are either with us or against us’ speech.

Nomanzland, a performing arts program that brings together youth from different artistic backgrounds, encourages the use of poetry, dance and theatre to address issues that affect today’s youth. Most of all, Nomanzland hopes to provide an opportunity for reclamation – of both personal voice, and local space.

To learn more about Nomanzland, check out the NAN video profile.

Nomanzland and the West Side Arts Hub

Supporting Our Youth & Pink Ink


Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is a community development program designed to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto through the active involvement of youth and adult communities. SOY works to create healthy arts, culture and recreational spaces for young people; to provide supportive housing and employment opportunities; and to increase youth access to adult mentoring and support.

Recently, I sat down with with fellow George Brown student, Ryan Singh, who just recently finished up a placement with Supporting Our Youth Toronto. We covered quite a bit of ground regarding SOY’s use of arts programming in its work with LGBTQ+ youth as well as his own growth as a community worker throughout his time with SOY. He points out that SOY has allowed to him to utilize and expand upon his facilitation skills as well as operate within a diverse group environment. Individually, he is also very involved in the performing arts and we spoke about what SOY offers in terms of current programming. From April 7th through July 7th, SOY is offering a writing program called Pink Ink. It is facilitated by local Toronto musician and author, Vivek Shraya. In the past, participants have produced zines, poetry, short stories, essays, and more. More information about this program can be found below.

Pink Ink

Offered to queer, transgender, Two Spirit, and questioning youth (ages 14-29) who are interested in writing. It focuses on editing, performance, publication, and more! This program is also a great opportunity to meet other queer and trans individuals from all over Canada. In the past, participants have produced a variety of items including zines, poetry, short stories, essays, and more.

Ryan summed up his time with SOY as such: “It is great to work in an environment that is not only queer friendly and/or queer accepting, but queer. Everyone involved with SOY really lives the principles and values. It is living and celebrating positive queer values; being positive with positive people.”

ImageTo learn more about Supporting Our Youth and their services, visit them online at

Alex Pollard is the 2011-2012 Neighbourhood Arts Network intern.

Ten Shades with Domanique Grant

Come out and enjoy an intimate night of good food, great music and success in Toronto… We’d like to celebrate with you!

Your invited to the Ten Shades event on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012  inside of Harlem Restaurant (67 Richmond Street East).

Ten Shades is Domanique Grant’s going away celebration/ fundraiser and pre-album listening party, in celebration of the singer-songwriter’s up and coming international ventures to Vancouver and Uganda this summer.

The event will include an interactive live band and listening showcase, featuring unreleased material from Domanique Grants’s forth coming album, music by Dj Ty Hale, a special performance by June Ballentyne and giveaways. Partial proceeds for the event will be donated to The Shanti Uganda Society in support of new equipment for their facility in Luweero Uganda.

Dinner at 7pm; Performances & Live Band at 9pm

Hosted by Pivotal

Live Band: Avery Levin-Gold (Piano); April Lavine (Percussion); James Faulkner (Guitar); Kimi Suzuki (Violin); Tenisha Clarke (Vocals)

To learn more about Domanique Grant, check out her ACE Award finalist video!

Sponsored by:

The Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto

Five Kut Diamonds

Timeless Apparel

Stolen from Africa