Platform A

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Art Starts Awards 13 Micro-grants to Emerging & Newcomer Artists

We are very excited to announce the recipients of the 2016 Art Starts Platform A micro-grants funded through the Toronto Arts Council. Art Starts was thrilled to host a meeting with the youth and newcomer recipients Tuesday where they networked with each other and shared their artistic practices. During this third round of micro-grants we are supporting 13 community arts projects that seek to engage Toronto and its residents through the arts.  Below you’ll find a list of the recipients and information about each their projects. Stay tuned for updates about what these great artists are doing in your community!

Each micro-grant recipient created their own version of their $1,000 cheques in a creative way to express their happiness!

Map of Platform A | Art Starts micro-grants 2016

Did You Know?

Funding for Platform A micro-grants is a result of increased investments in the arts from previous city budgets. Currently Toronto funds the arts at $22/capita while Montreal funds at $55, Calgary at $42, Vancouver at $47 and Ottawa at $28. Art Starts was on hand at Budget Committee meetings this week to make a deputation asking that council make good on its promise to invest in the arts at a level of $25/capita by 2017. Their previous commitment to increasing arts funding by $5 million in 2016 was not in the City Manager’s proposed budget. However, after this deputation and many others by artists and arts organizations from across the city, we are hoping that this will change. Increased investments would mean that important programs, like Platform A micro-grants, will continue to grow access to the arts across this city.

Aaron Lal 

Youth from Silversprings will design and produce their own hooded sweatshirts that will promote messages of anti racism, cultural empowerment, and self-expression. Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 39)

Alexandra Iorgu

Creating a collective art installation using clay as a medium involving people all ages from the local Community Centre Franklin Horner, LAMP Early Years, Alderwood Library Branch and the Sir Adam Beck Junior School. The project will be displayed at the Alderwood Library and Sir Adam Beck Junior School. Etobicoke-Lakeshore (6)

Carla Soto

Facilitating multidisciplinary workshops for children to design customs, learn storytelling, drama, dance, music and handcraft related to a folkloric Afro-Venezuelan festival, The Dancing Devils of Yare. Toronto Centre-Rosedale (27)

Gloria O’koye

‘Unspoken Vocals’ is a program to engage youth ages 14-17 to learn the art of poetry, gain confidence in public speaking, art of storytelling & create meaningful relationships. The program will host a series of informative discussion and workshops. Scarborough-Rouge River (41)

Jacqueline Comrie Garrido

Revitalizing a high traffic patient waiting room or family common area at the Toronto East General Hospital through the production, and installation of a colourful, high quality art mural. Don Valley West (25)

Jaicyea Smith

Belly dancing workshops for young women addressing, health, wellness and body image issues in the Lawrence Heights community or elsewhere. Special guests each week from a variety of fields (fitness, music, broadcasting, extreme sports, etc.) Eglinton-Lawrence (15)

Abby Ho | Project 40 Collective

Creating an interdisciplinary showcase -pan-Asian, launch the second issue of the magazine LooseLeaf and creating a communal meal sharing experience. Toronto Centre-Rosedale (27)

Jose Angel Olivares

Painting a small indoor or outdoor mural to portray his home country Costa Rica, his love for Canada and also to raise awareness of the artistic abilities of people living with autism. York South-Weston (11)

Keisha James

Producing and curating a multi-media gallery exhibit for young, emerging artists 16-35 years of age from across Toronto. Parkdale-High Park (13)

Lynx Sainte-Marie

Creating an arts-based writing workshop series to engage black youth ages 18-24 who identify as “spoonies”: individuals who live with various forms of disability/chronic illness. Etobicoke North (2)

Magda Arturo & Julian Restrepo

Reconnecting second-generation Latin Americans living in Toronto to their roots by creating an interactive movable mural indoors in the St.Clair & Lansdowne neighbourhood. Trinity-Spadina (20)

Nazanin Khani

Raising awareness about breast cancer by creating and exhibiting four sculptural pieces based on the experience of breast cancer survivors in Toronto. Trinity-Spadina (20)

Vincentia A

Photographing the environment of the Neptune Neighbourhood and their young people presenting it in an empowering and beautifying exhibit. Eglinton-Lawrence (15)
Art Starts micro-grants are part of the Platform A initiative that was developed in line with the Toronto Arts Council’s strategic priorities to enhance support for Community Connections in local and youth-based arts delivery, and foster increased Innovation and Partnerships that will incubate new ideas and opportunities across all disciplines.  


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A Initiative to Develop Capacity and Innovation in Community-Engaged Arts!

Art Starts is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting new project in partnership with the Toronto Arts Council that will test new models for collaboration and resource sharing in the youth and community-engaged arts sectors. Platform A is a collaboration between four of Toronto’s leading organizations in community-engaged arts: Arts for Children and Youth, Art Starts, Jumblies Theatre and SKETCH. These organizations have all emerged from grassroots initiatives and have grown to become key community builders in Toronto’s arts sector, engaging thousands of children, young people and adults annually through their diverse, innovative and accessible programming. The aim of the Platform A initiative is to fuse the strengths and experiences of the four organizations to support a shared vision of seeding sustainable, high-quality community arts practice, and providing increased opportunities and access to the arts for youth and communities. The project will create new opportunities through shared platforms, mentorships, organizational bridge building, and micro-grants. Through this initiative, each organization will solidify their roles as entry points for youth and communities to arts practice, funding, and administration. They will increase local arts capacity and the potential for ongoing arts activities and employment in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto. Platform A will also create opportunities for their youth and community-based constituents by connecting them to each collaborating organization and their larger networks.

Audios from CBC Metro Morning


Platform A

Read more about Art Starts Platform A microgrants, mentorship and bridging initiatives

A Parkdale Space for Young Writers, Artists and Dreamers

photo 1 The Toronto WordSmiths received a Platform A – Art Starts microgrant and were able to create a free weekly meeting space for youth ages 16 to 29 to come together as a writing community. Working out of the Parkdale Library, the Toronto WordSmiths are committed to creative expression and collective learning. The main focus for this youth-led initiative is to create artistic opportunities within and outside of their community. The group’s commitment to fostering growth and authentic representation is inspiring for all of us who work in the community-engaged arts field.    Read more


A Shooting, A Play, An Effort to Understand the Art Starts Way stock_livingTorontoJournalThe Bridging component of Platform A specifically aims to galvanize connections between under-resourced neighborhoods and well-established arts companies and institutions. At Art Starts we are committed to bridging the gap between communities and professional artists, blurring the lines between “high” art and community-engaged art practices – always building two-way roads. We aim to facilitate artistic collaborations and artist/community pairings in the neighbourhoods we have been working with for years. The Bridge initiatives will take various forms such as partnering with professional companies to perform and facilitate creative workshops in a local basketball court, a TCH communal room or maybe even the local laundromats, to field trips to galleries, theatres, or the symphony – anything is possible!  These events will always include a spaces for direct, hands-on interaction between the artists and the audience/community. The intention is to engage diverse and under-represented communities in creating new opportunities and increasing access to arts experiences in innovative and collaborative ways that will both increase audience and membership as well as benefit communities directly.  Read more


Eco-Activism Art Project Upcycles Pop Bottles Into Planters anannaRafa_upcycledBottles Ananna Rafa is just in grade 11 but she isn’t – and will never be “just” anything. A wonderfully bright, creative and motivated young person living in the vibrant and diverse Thorncliffe neighbourhood, she is one of the nine talented Art Starts microgrant recipients. Ananna is a visual artist of Bengali descent, who works in a variety of media. She came to Canada three years ago and has since been using her artistic abilities to explore and express her views about the world while continuing to engage with her community through public art projects. Read more For more information email platforma@artstarts.netPoster