Getting Ready for …

 Work In Culture and The Toronto Public Library presents:

Enriching Your Work in Culture

WorkInCulture leads a four-week series that demystifies the language of business for creative professionals from any discipline. This course is designed and delivered in collaboration with cultural insiders who will share tips and exercises to help you create a thriving, life-long career.

Topics include: envisioning the future of your creative business; overcoming financial hurdles like pricing and negotiating; making social media work for you; how to be resilient to survive and thrive in the long-term. Space is limited so reserve your spot– Call 416-393-7686 for more information.

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on recurring dates listed below

90 mins

Parkdale Auditorium


Upcoming Dates:

Wed Oct 03
Wed Oct 10
Wed Oct 17
Wed Oct 24


NAN Interns: Where are they now?

We caught up with former interns and volunteers to find out what they have been up to since their time at the Neighbourhood Arts Network.

Alex Pollard

Alex Pollard (September 2011-May 2012)

Since finishing her internship at NAN in May, Alex graduated from Community Work at George Brown College. In September she will start a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a major in Community Development. Alex hopes to implement her arts background throughout her new course of study as well as in her hometown of Oshawa.

Amy Goudge

Amy Goudge (Summer 2011)

After interning at NAN in Summer 2011, Amy went on to academic research at Ryerson’s Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre. She then started working with the Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space (STEPS) Initiative, where she coordinated a youth-led art program in Thorncliffe Park. She also programmed a community arts festival with b current and the reConnexion Collective. Amy will be starting a Master’s program at NYU in Visual Art Administration in the fall.

Anna-Liza Badaloo

Anna-Liza Badaloo (February-April 2010)

After volunteering with NAN, Anna-Liza has worked with NAN partner ArtStarts and the Bain Housing Co-operative. She is currently the Adult Education Coordinator at the Toronto Botanical Garden. In every position she has held since working with NAN, Anna-Liza’s NAN experience has helped her to incorporate community-based art practices into her work. Anna-Liza currently runs and curates the Toronto Botanical Garden Art Gallery in the Weston Family Library, featuring some of the best botanical artists in Canada.

Robyn Shyllit (February-April 2010)

Since interning with NAN Robyn has received her Masters in Urban Planning and Certificate in Community Development from the University of Toronto. She also interned and worked for Artscape and travelled to Spain. Currently, Robin works as the Communications Coordinator for FoodShare.

Emily Macrae is the Neighbourhood Arts Network 2012 Summer Intern

Street Art Funding in Toronto

UPDATE: Please note that StreetARToronto has announced a second deadline of May 23! More info is available on the NAN news page:

An info session about the StreetARToronto grant program and a discussion on innovation and community engagement in public art. April 19 from 4pm-6pm at Art Starts.

Directions: Yorkdale Mall is located at the Yorkdale Subway Station. Art Starts’  Yorkdale Community Arts Centre is located in the Lower Level of the Yorkdale Mall. Access the Lower Level via the elevators beside the Home Outfitters escalator. Exit into what looks like an underground parking garage, go through a set of double doors and voila!

 Street Art Funding Flyer
Wondering what’s happening with Toronto’s new graffiti management plan and the Graffiti Transformation Project? Do you want to learn more about funding available from the new StreeetARToronto (StART) grant program? Are you interested in shaping the future of city-supported community murals and street art in Toronto?

The Neighbourhood Arts Network, Art Starts, and Whippersnapper Gallery invite artists, cultural workers, and interested community members to join us on April 19th for an information session about StreetARToronto funding, followed by a discussion on innovation and community engagement in public art.

Special guests will include StreetARToronto manager Lilie Zendel , Joshua Barndt (Whippersnapper), Katherine Earl (Art Starts), Sean Martindale, and more.

This is a FREE event, but space is limited. Please RSVP to before April 16th. Questions? Please contact, or call 416 392 6802 x212

For exact directions, please contact Art Starts at 416-656-9994

Presented by: Neighbourhood Arts Network, Art Starts, and Whippersnapper Gallery

Culture Days @ The Library 2011: Parkdale Branch

This year’s Culture Days @ The Library engaged over 2,000 people across Toronto!

Shadowland Theatre workshop with Parkdale youth

Shadowland Theatre at Parkdale Library Branch; Image courtesy of Yvonne Bambrick

Check out the Culture Days Ontario Flickr Set to see more Culture Days 2011 photos.

Take Me With You: Street Art Mentorship

Whippersnapper Gallery has partnered with ArtStarts this summer to facilitate a youth street art mentorship project. Using recycled and found objects as their materials, youth are working alongside professional artists to create artwork that challenges traditional notions of both trash and art.

A jungle gym in the Atkinson Housing Co-op made out of found objects by the Youth Street Art Mentorship team.

A jungle gym in the Atkinson Housing Co-op made out of found objects by the Youth Street Art Mentorship team.

The sensory pleasures that art can incite are boundless in extent, and inimitable in effect. But what I find most fascinating about art, and particularly about community art, is the potential it holds to spark dialogue and engagement. By communicating familiar ideas in imaginative, unconventional ways, artists continually provoke audiences to challenge their own assumptions and opinions. Innovative modes of representation force viewers to broaden their perspective, and in doing so, art can serve as a powerful instigator of social change.

Whippersnapper Gallery’s Take Me With You is an inspiring example of how art can rouse healthy debate, and encourage community members to question mainstream ideology. The program will run until the end of August, and involves a number of different projects, collaborations and events. Components range from music shows to panel discussions and installations, but all aspects share the mandate to “re-imagine the use, importance, and social significance of objects and materials cast away by others.”

Recycled materials were re-purposed to create a musical instrument for local kids in the Atkinson Housing Co-op.

Recycled materials were re-purposed to create a musical instrument for local kids in the Atkinson Housing Co-op.

At the centre of Whippersnapper’s packed agenda is a 5-week Youth Street Art Mentorship project, facilitated in partnership with ArtStarts. Whippersnapper’s artistic director Joshua Barndt has worked with ArtStarts for nearly a decade, assisting them in their community arts projects. This spring, Barndt approached ArtStarts with a proposal to hire youth from Alexandra Park in a pilot youth mentorship project. After receiving the support of ArtStarts and the City of Toronto’s Graffiti Transformation Project, Whippersnapper began recruiting local participants.

Poster plants installed by the Youth Street Art Mentorship team at Spadina and Dundas.

Poster plants installed by the Youth Street Art Mentorshop team at Spadina and Dundas.

For each of the first three weeks, a different visiting artist or art collective led the youth in a specific installation or project. The first week saw Sean Martindale teach participants how to create his trademark poster planters, by transforming illegal posters into beds for potted plants. The next week was led by Sasha Foster and Felix Kalmenson, who helped the youth assemble neighbourhood shrines from local debris. Although some of the shrines have since been dismantled, the group has found strategies to promote synergy between the community and their work.

A neighbourhood shrine created by the Youth Street Art Mentorship team in Alexandra Park.

A neighbourhood shrine created by the Youth Street Art Mentorship team in Alexandra Park.

“Working with trash material, sometimes people can get a negative vibe,” Barndt explained. “But whenever we include some sort of living plant in our work, people are more likely to get a positive impression. They assume that since it’s being taken care of, the shrine is intentional and a positive thing. We also want the neighbourhood to be included in the project, so we’ve posted signs to encourage passers-by to contribute, and left watering buckets for the plants so that the community can participate.”

A slide created with found and recycled materials by the Youth Street Art Mentorship project.

A slide created with found and recycled materials by the Youth Street Art Mentorship project.

The third week of the project involved public sculpture-making with Urban Trash Art, a collective from Sao Paulo that works exclusively in trash materials. Together, the group refurbished an underused neighbourhood structure into a colourful and whimsical playground for kids in the Atkinson Housing Co-op.

A playful ladder created by the Youth Street Art Mentorship Project.

A playful ladder created by the Youth Street Art Mentorship Project.

For the final two weeks, the youth will work on a permanent and self-initiated installation at the Scadding Court Community Centre. Applying the tools and techniques they’ve learned from their artist mentors, the group will incorporate found materials like cans and tires into their final project. Using such untraditional materials to create something beautiful has solicited a range of responses, from skepticism and confusion to laudatory acclaim. But in our current climate of reckless over-consumption and irresponsible waste disposal, this is the type of inventive project that can stimulate exciting social change.

Take Me With You will run until the end of August. To find out more, please visit

Amy Goudge is the Summer 2011 Membership Intern at the Neighbourhood Arts Network.

New Connections: Arts and the Settlement Process

On Thursday, July 14, the Neighbourhood Arts Network and the Working Women Community Centre hosted New Connections: Newcomer Artist Networking Event. We invited artists, cultural workers and community workers to participate in a discussion about arts and the settlement process in Toronto. After convening in the beautiful Oriole Peanut Community Garden, we exchanged ideas about barriers and resources for Canadian newcomer artists.

Although Toronto is often celebrated for its multiculturalism and diversity, newcomers in the city continue to face barriers to engagement and professional growth. Settlement services work hard to alleviate or eradicate such barriers, but there are certain areas that tend to be overlooked. Art, it seems, is one of those areas.

The Neighbourhood Arts Network hosted a discussion to address the apparent scarcity of support for newcomer artists. What barriers are newcomer artists facing, and what would help? How can the arts support the settlement process? Are there any existing resources for newcomer artists? These are the sorts of questions we sought to answer at New Connections: Newcomer Artist Networking Event.

Neighbourhood Arts Network Coordinator Skye Louis shares a laugh with guest Nadine Peazer.

Our fruitful group discussion yielded a number of insights, with participants offering perceptive suggestions for government and cultural agencies. Most of the issues we identified stem from two foundational problems: a lack of a centralized hub for art resources, and a perception of the arts as frivolous or irrelevant to the newcomer experience.

The first problem means that people have to sift through countless sources to find educational and employment opportunities for new citizens. “It would be helpful to have all of the information in one location or package,” said one attendee. Compiling something like that would take little effort, but the benefits would be great for newcomer artists. Settlement agencies could help to distribute them in multiple languages, which would eliminate the language barrier some newcomers face in navigating existing resources.

The second problem is trickier, because the solution requires an ideological shift. Until settlement agencies begin to value the arts as a viable career option, services for newcomer artists will remain inadequate. “Newcomer services provide information about all sorts of careers, except for arts,” lamented one guest. “They need to start taking art seriously as a potential profession for newcomers.”

Once institutions devote themselves to this vision, they can begin offering professional development resources for new citizens with arts backgrounds. Resume and portfolio development, tips on where to search for employment, and opportunities to gain practical experience would all be welcome supports. Several of our guests suggested a mentorship program, in which a newcomer artist would be paired with a local artist, who could help integrate the newcomer into the Toronto arts community.

Another common source of frustration is the void of services targeted at more experienced newcomer artists. There is a wealth of resources for both youth and emerging artists, but support for mature or experienced artists is lacking. This type of vacancy stymies the growth of both Toronto’s artistic community, and the development of artists who are new to the country.

Although there is clearly room for improvement, there are some existing resources that warrant celebration. The Cultural Access Pass has been hugely successful, offering new citizens free access to cultural institutions for a year. The service is provided by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and information about the program is distributed at citizenship ceremonies.

Erin Glover from Arts for Children and Youth spoke about their efforts to engage newcomer youth through multi-disciplinary arts programs. AFCY facilitates 150 programs a year, allying with priority neighbourhoods around the city. By conducting the programs in local, public spaces like libraries and community centres, AFCY ensures that youth from all backgrounds have total access to their services.

Our host Nasrin Khatam shared another success story, describing the “Art in the Garden” program that she runs at the WWCC. Funded by the Trillium Foundation, the program provides free art supplies and lessons for community members, who wouldn’t otherwise have access to art. Locals also began growing vegetables and herbs in the garden, with an emphasis on international ingredients that are hard to find in Canadian stores.

“Arts and creation are always at the bottom of the list for newcomers,” Nasrin says. “They have this giant list of things they need to take care of: finding a place, finding a school, getting to know the community…arts are always pushed to the bottom of that list. But it’s an important part of getting settled. My dream is that art will eventually be recognized and supported as an important part of the immigration and settlement process.”

Download the full event notes here: New Connections Notes

Amy Goudge is the Summer 2011 Membership Intern at the Neighbourhood Arts Network.

Welcome, Leah Burns!

Engaging Diverse Communities is a research and education project of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Neighbourhood Arts Network, and Manifesto Community Projects. Engaging Diverse Communities aims to strengthen relationships between the arts and social service sectors in order to build capacity for artists and cultural workers to increase access and reduce barriers to cultural participation for culturally diverse communities.

The Neighbourhood Arts Network is pleased to welcome our new Engaging Diverse Communities project coordinator, Leah Burns. Read on for more about Leah and this exciting new project!

Hi everyone,

I am really excited to join the Neighbourhood Arts Network team and this important project. I have been working in and thinking about community-based arts practices in Canada and abroad for the past 17 years. What inspires me the most about community-based arts is the opportunity it provides for connecting with other people in creative and supportive ways. At its best, creative collaboration in communities is a complex dialogue. Different personalities, ideas, and understandings come together to share an experience and generate new expressions that don’t emerge in the same way when working independently. It is truly amazing how energizing this kind experience can be.


'Days of Light' Lantern Installation

One summer evening in 1994 I walked into Trout Lake Park in East Vancouver. Usually a very quiet green space surrounded by residential housing and a small community centre, the park that night, was transformed. It was a magical setting. Flickering lanterns of various shapes and sizes dotted the landscape: some shaped like large lotus flowers floated on the water pulled along behind a kayak gliding gracefully around the lake’s edge, others, small and round, adorned the branches of one large tree lighting it up, so that it almost appeared as if it was on fire. Nearby a small group of performers stood singing in a clump of reeds. In the distance fire dancers could be seen moving rhythmically across the grass. As I stood there watching, a wide range of people, neighbours and community members that one wouldn’t normally encounter together, slipped past me to join a bustling parade led by small band of djembe drummers and horn players weaving through the park. Many of the people carried their own lanterns or musical instruments; some were dressed up in elaborate costumes, and everyone was aglow with enthusiasm.

Circus of Dreams

'Circus of Dreams', a Public Dreams community event in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver's downtown eastside

This was my first encounter with the Public Dreams Society a community arts group in Vancouver that works collaboratively with communities to create inclusive celebratory events that often aim to transform and reclaim local public spaces. It was also a pivotal moment for me in terms of my career and life choices. This magical moment solidified my decision to pursue an arts practice that would allow me to share and build opportunities for collective, creative experiences. I want to help others experience the sense of agency, excitement and transformative potential that the arts can offer. I would later come to work for Public Dreams as well as numerous other community arts organizations in Vancouver and Australia.

FoodShare Mural

'Imaging Ourselves', an excerpt from a community mural created for FoodShare

Since moving to Toronto to study in the year 2000, I have sought out similar opportunities for participating in and contributing to community-based arts practices with organizations such as: FoodShare, MuralRoutes, Scarborough Arts, LEAF, Arts for Children and Youth, OCADU, the Centre for Arts-Informed Research, and the Faculties of Health and Environmental Studies at York University.

My studies and work as a researcher have also been linked to community arts: reflecting on the use of community-based arts to support social change and environmental education, developing alternative approaches to arts evaluation, and examining community arts education programs.

In all these contexts an important theme that comes up again and again is the need for networking and development. As community-based arts workers we need more time and opportunities to think about our practices and to share what we have learned with one another. We also need more resources for developing skills to address the diverse needs of the people and communities we work with.  Sharing and professional development helps us to improve and to be more inclusive. It also helps us to re-energize, reduce burn-out, and re-ignite the creative spark and passion for collaboration that motivates so many people in this field.

Monarch Mural

'Chrysalis', a mural created from community stories for Mural Routes on Kingston Rd. in Scarborough

As part of the Engaging Diverse Communities Project, I will be connecting with a range of social service and arts organizations throughout Toronto to identify best practices for supporting and engaging culturally diverse communities through the arts.

This information will then be shaped into a series of free workshops, case studies and practical toolkits for arts and cultural workers.

LeahI will also be sharing regular updates about the project as it progresses. So keep an eye out for more blog posts in the coming months!

If you have questions, suggestions, or would like more information about the project please contact me at: