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Happy New Year!

January 2021

Happy New Year!

Dear friends in community-engaged arts!

We hope that this new year finds you and yours in good health and spirits–despite all of the challenges of living and working through a pandemic.

We apologize for the lag in blog posts over the past few weeks. The ArtBridges website and blog needed some necessary upgrades to be able to move forward. Our website is reaching its “end of life” at 7 years! but with some digital attention and a “plan B approach” we’re able to continue with a second wind.

We look forward to highlighting what’s going on in community-engaged arts across Canada again this year. Through the day-to-day blog posts we gather and share, a story unfolds about how people are pivoting their arts initiatives and working within the confines of the pandemic and its restrictions. We’ve all had to find new ways to work in community-engaged arts and keep up capacity as best as we can.

We’d like to hear from you! Please email in stories, pictures or posts about your community-engaged arts initiatives, stories and opportunities. Perhaps they’ll inspire others! Perhaps you’ll find some support, idea or opportunity you’re looking for too.

Stay healthy, creative and hopeful!!!


Seanna Connell, on behalf of the ArtBridges team

photo credit: silviarita/Pixabay

UrbanArts’ Action on Anti-Black Racism

UrbanArts stands in solidarity with our Black residents, clients and colleagues of all ages. As a local arts service organization that has served the York South-Weston and broader former City of York for the past 32 years, we are also impacted by all that has been taking place around the world, in the U.S., and yes, right here in Canada too. It has been a very difficult time for all of us but in particular for our Black staff, Black program participants, Black board members, Black colleagues and Black friends who continue to face ongoing forms of Anti-Black racism.

To our Black artists and residents to whom we have been providing innovative arts programs over the years, we are here for you, we are listening, and we care. UrbanArts is a place to share and learn from our varied cultural experiences and we are proud to stand in support of Black communities across the globe, particularly those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the police and violence. We recognize that institutions and policies in Canada are built largely on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, oppression, and injustice and we must do the work to dismantle these systems of oppression.

The collective and individual traumas being experienced are extremely challenging. Anti-Black Racism is a public health crisis and we need more community-based resources to support the critical work we do with our Black residents and other racialized groups in York South-Weston. The work required to combat societal injustices cannot be done by the Black community alone. We need the dedicated support of all our community members, businesses and all governmental levels to work alongside Black communities.

As an organization with primarily Black clients, we are committed to using the arts as not only a space for expression but community healing. These initiatives also connect diverse people and build an inclusive and equitable community. The need to better serve our diverse community was the catalyst that gave rise to an organizational shift 2002 to address the emerging needs of our local youth, changing our name from Arts York to UrbanArts to better reflect where we were heading; implementing programs and services that use the arts as impetus for social change and ensuring that our staff, board and volunteers continually reflect the community we serve.

UrbanArts plays an extremely vital role in the development of artists of all genres and at all stages of their careers including mentoring fledgling and grassroots Black arts groups and organizations in York South-Weston and the former City of York. UrbanArts also prides itself on working collaboratively with many diverse local and other community organizations to achieve our goals, we will continue to do so. We invite our partners, supporters and friends to ramp up your support for the work we do and for those we serve. There are many ways you can support and take action with, and on behalf of the Black community including:

  • Taking time to educate yourselves on the issues and challenges that Black Canadians face daily Confronting Anti-Black Racism; Anti-Black Racism; Anti-Black Racism & Mental Health (Courtesy, City of Toronto)
  • Holding yourselves and those around you accountable for all acts of racism, prejudice and micro-aggressions
  • Amplifying your voices while checking your privilege
  • Supporting local Black-owned businesses to help make this community and city the vibrant place we all call home. Here, for you, is a link to 100+ Black businesses you can support.
  • Lastly, but by no means least, we ask that you generously invest your time and resources in community organizations that are committed to supporting and engaging Black and other residents of colour.

Along with organizations serving the Black community in York South-Weston, here is a list of Black organizations and/or programs across the City you can support.

In solidarity towards a healthy, equitable co-existence

Marlene McKintosh
Executive Director, UrbanArts

-posted with permission from UrbanArts

Creative Sector Solidarity with Black Lives Matter (Newfoundland and Labrador)

We stand with Black communities against white supremacy, police brutality, and systemic oppression.

“We, the undersigned, join with the artists of Newfoundland and Labrador in challenging systems of oppression and systemic racism that endanger members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. We acknowledge Ktaqmkuk as the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk and the Mi’kmaq, and Labrador as the ancestral homelands of the Innu of Nitassinan, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, and the Inuit of NunatuKavut. 

Events that are now unfolding across the United States demonstrate the extent to which Black communities face ongoing police-sanctioned violence. The same has long been true in Canada and we must take action now. Collectively, we need to push towards meaningful change within our organizations both to combat these realities and to support anti-racism initiatives, including those that work against anti-Black racism. 

Our organizations adamantly commit to the following:

  • Decolonizing systems of oppression through solidarity practices. We will ensure we have structures of accountability in place within our own communities. We refuse to prioritize or maintain cultures of white privilege that reinforce inequity and jeopardize human safety and freedoms in NL and beyond. 
  • Promoting meaningful and tangible inclusion that addresses exclusionary economic policies impacting BIPOC  individuals.   
  • Acknowledging and addressing existing social constructs that perpetuate racist worldviews that normalize inequality and police brutality. Ideologies of whiteness as default or norm contribute to the dehumanization of BIPOC individuals. We refuse to accept this status quo as it continually puts community members in danger and normalizes police violence on our streets.
  • Further increasing diverse publication, production, and programming through our respective fields while challenging ownership and appropriation of voice narratives, ventures, and organizations. 
  • Using our platforms to dedicate space and uplift BIPOC artists and their stories.
  • Leveraging our resources to shift focus on and provide new professional, paid, and equitable opportunities for BIPOC artists throughout our province.

Black Lives Matter. Ending all forms of racism and violence against Indigenous, Asian, Migrant and Newcomer, Muslim, and Latinx people and communities matters. Ending Patriarchy, Islamophobia, Transphobia, Anti-Semitism, Ableism, and Sanism Matters. 

These commitments cannot be realized alone. We need to dismantle white privilege, re-learn behaviours, re-imagine systems, and foster critical dialogue with BIPOC communities. We will hold ourselves and our organizations accountable in consultation with BIPOC communities. We will ensure that these actions are effectively implemented and maintained within our organizations.

We therefore issue the following challenge to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador:

  1. Join us in calling on all levels of government to condemn police brutality targeting BIPOC communities and to commit to work towards decolonizing and dismantling systemic racism and white supremacy embedded within our society.
  2. Join us in calling on all other organizations to do the same and to re-publish this statement and/or add their organization to the list of supporters.
  3. Join us in committing to hold, and calling on others to hold, anti-oppression workshops and discussions focusing on decolonization and combating racism within our organizations, and to offer free anti-oppression workshops that are open and accessible to all members of our communities.

We recognize that this is an ongoing process and are committed to furthering our knowledge, practicing accountability, and taking all necessary actions to dismantle white supremacy and other systems of colonial violence.

Signed in solidarity by the following creative sector organizations of Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Eastern Edge Gallery
  • Riddle Fence
  • St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival
  • Artistic Fraud
  • Business and the Arts NL
  • Neighbourhood Dance Works
  • Lawnya Vawnya
  • Union House Arts
  • Persistence Theatre Company
  • St. John’s Storytelling Festival
  • St. Michael’s Printshop 
  • Resource Centre for the Arts (LSPU Hall)
  • Wonderbolt Productions
  • Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador 
  • Tuckamore Festival
  • Sound Symposium
  • Visual Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Association of Professional Theatre of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Best Kind Productions
  • Winterset in Summer Literary Festival
  • The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society
  • First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre
  • Eastern Owl
  • White Rooster Theatre
  • MusicNL
  • The Cape St. Mary’s Performance Series
  • Kittiwake Dance Theatre
  • Theatre Newfoundland Labrador
  • Perchance Theatre
  • CB Nuit

Additional Resources:

-posted with permission from Eastern Edge Gallery

Friday Morning Coffee: Become a Member of ArtBridges!


Hi, my name is Tiffany Nyklickova. I’ve had the great privilege of working with ArtBridges/ToileDesArts for the past few months getting the new membership program up and running. This is exciting for ArtBridges because the new membership program will help us to expand our network with community arts initiatives in Canada.  Membership also means that you believe ArtBridges can help represent your interests. In my experience, memberships take organizations to the next level, they also create a greater sense of community.

To ensure ArtBridges was in the best position to launch a Membership Program we did extensive research. We reached out to organizations nationally and around the world to learn about membership within other community arts networks including Community Arts Network Western Australia, Community Arts Council Vancouver and the Manitoba Arts Network. Because of the impact that community arts has had in Western Australia, we learned, many other government agencies and sectors have taken notice including the Ministry of Social Services, Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Health.

We have met great people, learned about fascinating projects, and established valuable partnerships. Most importantly we learned that community-engaged arts initiatives are doing incredible things for communities and individuals; the leaders of these initiatives are eager to share what they’ve learned to drive community arts initiatives to new places; and through collaboration, active participation, and support ArtBridges can be a valuable resource for community-engaged arts initiatives. Membership helps projects like ArtBridges have a stronger voice.

This is an exciting time for ArtBridges and I’m honoured to be part of this endeavour!

We hope that you or your community arts initiative will become a founding member of ArtBridges.

Contact me if you have any questions at:

-Tiffany Nyklickova, Membership Developer

ArtBridges/ToileDesArts sponsor

Happy Canada Day! / Bonne fĂŞte du Canada!


All the best for a happy, safe, healthy and creative summer to all of our readers and community arts partners and friends across Canada.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be intensively finishing our transition over to our new website. You cannot imagine all the details! (Unless, of course, you’ve made a website yourself, or worked on any sort of large-scale renovation).

We may blog/tweet/post a little less through this period as staff & consultants are all-hands-on-deck with the website details and transition. Some will be taking the odd break too, to cool down and jump in the lake.

All the best for a great summer!

– The ArtBridges/ToileDesArts team.

Nous souhaitons à toutes les personnes qui nous lisent et à tous nos partenaires du milieu de l’art communautaire un été tout ce qu’il a de plus heureux et créatif, tout en étant nourrissant pour la sécurité et la santé!

 Au cours des prochaines semaines, nous travaillerons intensivement à la transition vers notre nouveau site Web. Incroyable, la quantité de détails dont il faut s’occuper! Si vous avez déjà créé un site Internet ou travaillé sur des rénovations à grande échelle, vous savez de quoi je parle!

 Il est probable que nous soyons un peu moins prĂ©sents sur le blogue et sur les rĂ©seaux sociaux pendant que notre Ă©quipe et nos consultants se lancent dans le sprint final pour le nouveau site. C’est Ă©galement le temps des vacances, le temps de relaxer un peu et de plonger dans un lac…

 Profitez bien de l’été!

 L’équipe d’ArtBridges/ToileDesArts

For ArtBridges/ToileDesArts sponsorship opportunities: Simon Constam, Sponsorship Director,, 905-537-7227
Return to ArtBridges/ToileDesArts homepage

Inspiration and Trepidation: Starting a Community Arts Organization (Algoma, ON)

“Robin Sutherland is an emerging arts manager and community artist who has recently moved from Toronto to her home community of Algoma, Northern Ontario, to establish Thinking Rock Community Arts, a new organization that will seek to engage and build community along the North Shore of Lake Huron. This blog will follow her journey along that path.

RobinSutherland3Robin Sutherland at Big Medicine Studio, Four Lands of Nipissing Project. Photo: Sherry Guppy.

I first started apprenticing with Ruth Howard and Jumblies Theatre at the beginning of December 2012, through Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program. I wanted to work with Jumblies to learn more about the process of engaging communities in the creative process, and also to gain some practical insights about starting a community arts organization.

So far I’ve learned concrete skills related to the production and facilitation of community arts projects, established a growing professional network of artists and collaborators in both southern and northern Ontario, and slowly started carving out my own method of practice by learning from the work of some of the leading practitioners in community arts from across the country.

Two of the projects I’ve been part of so far are the Artfare Essentials Workshop, and Ruth Howard’s micro-residency in North Bay and Nipissing First Nation.


Photo Story: SYiM – Southern Youth in Motion (Toronto)

SYiM (Southern Youth in Motion) is a campaign of North-South Partnership for Children that aims to connect youth from southern Ontario with youth in northern Ontario’s First Nation communities through art, music, videos, etc. We’ve been following SYiM since August 2012 and they’ve accomplished a lot in the past 7 months. Their work continues to impress and inspire us and we can’t wait to see what’s next for them in the coming year. We asked SYiM’s Youth Engagement Coordinator, Lauren Akbar, to contribute regular updates to ArtBridges so we can all follow the journey of this unique and much-needed initiative so check back regularly because we have a feeling that big things are in store for them!

– Cora-Rae Silk, ArtBridges


“Southern Youth in Motion (SYiM) Showcase on December 1, 2012 brought together youth from northern and southern Ontario to share their voices, songs, paintings, drawings, poetry, spoken word and much more – all to spread awareness of First Nations aspirations and challenges. Elder Pauline Shirt facilitated the day, she started by sharing her wisdom and cultural insights with us. She provided us with wonderful traditional teachings and led a smudging ceremony. She made us all see the beauty and goodness of Spirit at the gathering. For southern and northern youth, this was a way to connect to First Nation culture in a safe and welcoming space.


During the day we had several activities taking place:

1) The young people’s fantastic art performances and presentations, where they had the chance to take the stage (some for the first time) and share their art to the whole group. The youth performances sparked emotions, conversations and was the first step to bridging the gap between northern and southern Ontario.





2) Mural art with Michael Cywink, Artist, Muralist, Curator and Author from Manitoulin Island spent the day with us at the SYiM Showcase. He drew an outline of a mural and encouraged the youth to paint freely and feel the emotions from the poems, songs, etc. while they paint. Michael shared his experiences and stories with the youth and also created a positive environment for youth to see art through their own eyes.



3) We had a videographer, Kyle Montague and a photographer, Sherry Prenevost to capture the moments of the SYiM Showcase. They each created a video to share with others the wonderful and inspirational moments of the day, these videos will be launched with the SYiMzine: Showcase Edition.





SYiM is connecting youth from southern Ontario with youth in northern Ontario’s First Nation communities through art: music, videos, etc…
SYiM is hearing youth voices…
SYiM is sharing youth voices with others…
SYiM is spreading awareness of what life is like in northern Ontario…
SYiM is bringing people together, sharing cultures and becoming one…
SYiM is Southern Youth in Motion!

If you are interested in art, music, videos, etc. and would like to get involved with SYiM please contact Lauren Akbar at or connect with SYiM on Facebook here.”

– Lauren Akbar, Youth Engagement Coordinator
SYiM, North South Partnership for Children

All photos courtesy of Sherry Prenevost

To read other ArtBridges’ posts about SYiM, please click here.
See ArtBridges’ Google map for contact info.

For ArtBridges/ToileDesArts sponsorship opportunities: Simon Constam, Sponsorship Director,, 905-537-7227
Return to ArtBridges/ToileDesArts homepage

Happy Birthday ArtBridges! Bonne FĂŞte ToileDesArts!

ArtBridges - Four Candles - Uwe Hermann

ToileDesArts fête ses quatre ans aujourd’hui! Hourra!
ArtBridges turns four today! Hooray!

Merci beaucoup à tous nos lecteurs et lectrices, contributeurs et contributrices, supporteurs et supportrices, et bien sûr, nos amis et amies!

Thank-you so much –  readers, contributors, community partners, supporters and friends!

photo credit: Uwe Hermann

Friday Morning Coffee: From the Office of ArtBridges/ToileDesArts

Happy New Year community arts partners, friends and blog viewers!

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I do make commitments to new activities periodically through the year whenever inspiration strikes!

Inspiration did indeed strike at a few points last week—even in between bouts of a side-splitting cough (no joke, I tore a muscle!), a rerun of Mrs. Doubtfire and hikes up Turkey Roost Road in knee-high snow with my dog jumping up all over me. Nothing like a good Canadian winter to get the creative juices flowing!

Anyhow, one of my new commitments is to write a blog post each Friday that summarizes the activities and new things we learn about here at ArtBridges/ToileDesArts over the week from our community arts friends and partners from across the country and to ask you for your thoughts too!

I talked with my colleagues, Cora and Lisa, about this the other day and they think it’s a great idea—in general, we’d like to post more stories from the field!

So, here we go!:

  • This week in the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts office we are picking up where we left off before the holidays. First priorities!: turning on the heat, watering plants and buying coffee and cream. So with coffee in hand…
  • Cora is back reaching out to First Nations groups that are doing community arts-based work and asking for organizational profiles to share on our blog. She heard from ArtCirq—a truly amazing arts group up in Igloolik, a communty of about 1500 people. Check out Thursday’s blog.
  • We are meeting with VIUU Inc. – our web development team and nailing down the wireframe and navigation for the new ArtBridges/ToileDesArts website we are working on. This is a huge learning curve for us, it’s challenging, but, it will be worth it!
  • We posted an ad for a development officer on CharityVillage to help us with setting up fees-for-service/membership fees and the beginnings of an association. Yes, we have to go this route, to supplement revenue.
  • We re-hired our fundraiser—as this piece can never afford to rest for an emerging organization.
  • We found out that ArtBridges/ToileDesArts will be used in a case study for an OCAD-U Masters Program project this winter!
  • We got our 100th daily blog subscriber on Wednesday! (I know, small potatoes—but, you have to celebrate the small stuff too! And we do value our blog subscribers—you! In fact, if you haven’t subscribed, as thousands of readers haven’t, please do! See top right corner of our blog).

How about you? Are you inspired with any new commitments in your community arts work or in art-making this new year? Write in and tell me!:

-Seanna Connell,
Project Director of ArtBridges/ToileDesArts

Seasons Greetings from ArtBridges! / ToileDesArts vous souhaite de joyeuses fĂŞtes!


Seasons Greetings from ArtBridges / ToileDesArts!

To all our friends and community partners, we wish you a creative and joyful time over the holidays! All the best for a happy and healthy new year!

-Seanna Connell Project Director, on behalf of the ArtBridges / ToileDesArts team

ArtBridges / ToileDesArts vous souhaite de joyeuses fĂŞtes!

À tous nos amis et à tous nos partenaires, nous souhaitons un temps des fêtes créatif et joyeux! Nos meilleurs voeux! Nous vous souhaitons une heureuse année en santé!

-Seanna Connell Directrice de projet, de la part de l’équipe de ArtBridges/ToileDesArts