Who We Are

Art Starts is an award-winning charitable, not-for-profit organization that uses the arts as a vehicle to encourage social change in Torontoʼs underserved neighbourhoods. We bring professional artists and communities together to work in and across all artistic disciplines. We understand that the arts are a medium for engaging residents, creating a shared sense of identity, identifying challenges and collectively working to overcome them. Founded in 1992, the organization has pioneered community-engaged arts practices in Ontario.

Art Starts combines the best practices of hands-on community consultation with a collaborative art-making approach and sound organizational and administrative support. We:

  • Bring together professional artists with people from various Toronto neighbourhoods

  • Create projects in all artistic media, with all ages, with artists and participants from various ethnic backgrounds

  • Reflect the cultures of the neighbourhood and build bridges among them
  • Celebrate communities, foster collaboration, foster job-readiness and learning skills & respond to local needs
  • Build capacity, knowledge, skills and understanding
  • Produce art of high quality and integrity while identifying and nurturing artistic talent
  • Partner with local agencies, schools, police, libraries and social workers
  • Operate 5 neighbourhood sites whose programs are as distinct as the communities they serve

Art Starts has facilitated myriad responsive, meaningful projects. We have made art in Laundromats and grocery stores.  We have helped youth to produce six original music CD’s, facilitated workshops in photo-lit, textile arts, hip hop, mural arts, drumming, break & step dancing. We have produced multilingual theatre productions, brought youth and seniors together for collaborative storytelling and transformed a creepy old house into a kingdom of awesome.