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.

Current Programs


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.

This season Up & Rooted will host a series of creative arts sessions led by professional artists that will explore the inevitable physical and emotional transitions faced by the community. Our goal over 2014 is to work with the Villaways residents to conceive of and design a large-scale project that will engage the whole community in an “artistic discussion” as the revitalization occurs. This summer we are beginning the development of Youth Council to determine the final 5 year project. Vriginia Tran and Douglas Hurst will act as artist in residence.

Wednesdays and Fridays All Summer Long
Villaways Art Studio
20 Adra Villaway

Generously supported by: Ontario Trillium Foundation

Explore our Past Programs