In 1992 four socially conscious artists came together in Toronto’s Oakwood-Eglinton area.  They wanted to use art in their neighbourhood with their neighbours, as a way of positively addressing community tensions and celebrating the extraordinary diversity found on every block. They wanted a place to make art – a place where they could see and be seen, make art with everyone. An empty storefront seemed perfect.  But they needed money.  So the four artists, along with many supporters,  went to (city of York) city hall and did the unthinkable:

They Asked Politicians for Money to Make Art.



The politicians listened. They mulled over the idea. Carefully.
In the end they were convinced and Art Starts was born. The
storefront was never empty again. Residents, once very isolated
from one another, began to come together. Through multilingual
theatre projects, music and dance workshops and visual art pieces
integrated into the streetscape, a culture of mutual understanding
and respect began to develop. A shared sense of purpose was born.
Art Starts was quickly becoming a catalyst and a proven model
for arts-based community development in Toronto.

Since that time, Art Starts has grown in ways that continue to amaze even our founders. The past six years have seen Art Starts’ expand its purview, branching out to work sustainably with five under-resourced communities across the GTA. We continue to work with artists from all artistic disciplines and, like the communities we serve, our artists come from all walks of life.

We have become the artistic hub of activity in the most culturally, racially and linguistically diverse areas of Toronto. We remain a unique arts facility in our determination to reflect the different ethnicities of our communities.  We have conceptualized and crafted permanent public art installations, danced, performed, sung, celebrated, composed, laughed, designed, exhibited and learned.