In 2007, at the request of local residents, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and former trustee Adventure Place, Art Starts began programming at the Villaways Arts Studio. Villaways is an isolated neighbourhood with little to no access to community resources in the surrounding area. Art Starts provides essential programming: teaching life and leadership skills as much as providing a platform for all residents to express themselves, connect together and to their larger community. From the Villaways Women’s Health Circle to Look Up: Live Large where renowned artist Dan Bergeron worked with participants to create a series of straight-talking images ranging from life-sized to building-sized portraits, Art Starts’ programs at Villaways reflect the unique character of the community.


1. Art Starts was invited by residents and local agencies to begin collaborating at Villaways in 2007 and we have been there ever since.

2. We have transformed a TCHC-owned townhouse into an artistic hub in the community.

3. Art Starts has collaborated with residents on numerous arts projects including: GoKart building 2007, Live Up Live Large public art project 2009, Thru the Lens photography project 2010, Up and Rooted neighbourhood arts engagement project 2013-present.

4. Villaways is a Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood slated for revitalization beginning in 2016.


Up & Rooted is a 5-year project that began in the summer of 2012, funded by the Trillium Foundation. As in many Toronto neighbourhoods undergoing or slated for “revitalization” – a multi-year process that will see significant social, demographic and physical changes (e.g Regent Park, Lawrence Heights) – Villaways residents are faced with great uncertainty, the difficult challenge of relocating, the sorrow of witnessing the demolition of public housing they called home and finally, as they are given the option of moving back into newly constructed places, re-imagined environments and dramatically altered spaces. Art Starts commits to develop, understand and establish the role that the arts can play in ensuring more emotionally grounded, socially cohesive, resilient transitions for TCH residents during all stages of neighbourhood revitalization. Villaways: Up&Rooted is an Art Starts designed responsive and ongoing art experience in partnership with Villaways residents that will facilitate and document the revitalization process through imaginiative, innovative and meaningful community arts projects.

Up & Rooted will begin again on Wednesday September 23 at 3:30 pm. We’re so excited to bring back the music program on Wednesdays with Krystal and the visual arts program on Fridays with artist Douglas! On Wednesday we’re learning to write music and will compose an entire song which we will perform at the end of the year. We’re also building 8 feet puppets on Friday which we will showcase at the end of the year with our song. Come join us!

Explore our Past Programs

Current Programs