Cartography 17


Call to Community-Engaged Artists

Through a project we call Cartography 17, Art Starts proposes a new cartography to celebrate Canada’s 150th year, and Art Starts’ 25th anniversary. We will create a map of Toronto that is restorative, collaborative, democratic, creative and very fun. We will begin by working with a cartographer and Indigenous elders to try and restore as many of the original, Native place names as possible. Then, working with the lead artist, Toronto residents will co-create the new map, embracing high- and/or low-tech artistic media (e.g. painting, weaving, sewing, video, sound, text…). For more information, please refer to our online Artist Application

We invite you to join us as we embark upon this mapping adventure.

Deadline for Submissions: Monday, December 26th, 2016.


The Arts-Based Charity

Art Starts inspires and cultivates social change by bringing professional artists and Toronto residents together to create community-building arts projects in all artistic disciplines. We inspire long-term social change by using the arts to engage residents, collectively work to overcome challenges and create a shared sense of identity. Our collaborative approach to art making celebrates communities, nurtures resilience, cultivates life skills and inspires personal growth. Established in 1992, Art Starts is recognized as one of Toronto’s leading community arts organizations.

The Invitation

In celebration of Art Starts’ 25th anniversary and Canada’s 150th, Art Starts invites professional artists working to submit proposals outlining how they would animate a City of Toronto map using any artistic discipline (format t.b.d based on lead artist needs). Using a collaborative approach, you will facilitate creative activities with community residents, using their artistic output as a catalyst to animate and give expression to current communities on the map. You may embrace high or low tech artistic media such as sound, painting, textiles, video, text, etc.

The lead artist will have the full support of a Project Manager and Art Starts staff.

Project Description

Art Starts proposes a new cartography. Cartography 17 envisions a collaborative, arts-based representation of Toronto’s geography as it existed over 150 years ago and as it exists today. Cartography 17 will see a new kind of map-making; one that restores and embraces Indigenous place names while animating and representing current neighbourhoods through hands-on artistic expression by Toronto residents.  

Art Starts, in collaboration with a lead artist, an Indigenous artist with deep knowledge of Toronto land & history, a cartographer, and residents of neighbourhoods situated on the margins, will create a multifaceted map. Our focus is on illuminating Native cartography which was systematically overwritten by settlers, while also giving expression to current day neighbourhoods that so often go unacknowledged. The final map, a legacy in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary and Art Starts’ 25th, will be exhibited in spaces such as libraries, galleries, City Hall, etc.


Laying the groundwork, the Indigenous collaborator will work with a map illustrator or cartographer. Together they will craft a (large-scale) map that restores as many original, Native place names as possible. This foundational map, whose form will be based on the lead artists vision & Native place names, will be used as scaffolding for our lead artist and local residents as they co-create a fulsome map, using the arts to meld together past histories with present realities.

Under the lead artist’s guidance, Toronto residents will use the arts to represent and give expression to their neighbourhoods on the foundational map. For example, the map might be animated via soundscapes of voices recounting local stories, or through collaged, translucent fabrics, painted with descriptive text by local residents. The possibilities are endless.

Project Timeline

  • Oct-Nov 2016 Artist Call #1, review submissions, adjudication to choose 3 finalists
  • Nov-Dec 2016 3 artist finalists present more fulsome proposals (paid honorarium), final

lead artist selected

  • Jan-Mar 2017    Illustrate and construct (portable) foundational map
  • April-July 2017    Facilitate community engagement workshops in up to 5 Art Starts


  • Aug 2017   Craft exhibit-ready installation
  • Sept-Dec 2017  Unveil final Map at Art Starter Party, exhibit map citywide


Minimum 5 years experience working in artistic discipline; minimum 3 years working collaboratively with a high degree of community interaction; experience working on large-scale projects an asset; artists must be Canadian residents; artist teams are eligible; Indigenous artists are strongly encouraged to apply; superior communication and organizational skills; deeply rooted understanding of art-making in a community context

Lead Artist Responsibilities:

  •                Oversee the artistic direction of Cartography 17 in partnership with the project team
  •                Foster effective collaboration amongst all project stakeholders
  •                Work transparently and efficiently with Project Manager
  •                Ensure artistic representation of and/or input by residents of Art Starts communities
  •                Ensure the artistic approach and implementation process reflect Art Starts’ mission and values
  •                Facilitate workshops safely and respectfully
  •                Establish good working relationships and collaborative arrangements as needed
  •                Support public relations where needed

Budget Note

We have submitted Cartography 17 applications to various funding bodies. Once funding is confirmed, likely around mid-December, we will establish workable project parameters and budgets within the context of confirmed funding. We anticipate artist fees will be at minimum $5,000, and that the materials budget will fall between $1,200 and $1,800.

Selection Process   

This artist call is stage one of a two-stage process. Upon receiving the November 23rd  submissions, a jury will consider all applications. Three artists who best meet our criteria and ignite our excitement will be asked to present a more detailed proposal to the jury (week of Dec 12th). One artist will be selected by the jury to lead the project.