Media Advisory: Award-Winning Toronto Youth to Launch Eco Arts Initiative with Public Art Unveiling during National Youth Arts Week

TORONTO, April 30, 2014 – Local youth from Thorncliffe and Flemingdon, members of the Toronto Emerging ARTivists, the same group who installed the World’s Tallest Mural in St. James Town in summer 2013 and recently received the Toronto Youth Cabinet’s Community Arts Award, will be launching an eco arts initiative, beginning with the unveiling of a community mural and a pop bottle planter installation on May 3rd, 3 PM at East York Town Centre, during National Youth Arts Week.

Youth have transformed discarded trash collected in Flemingdon and Thorncliffe into material for a large environmental arts installation, where plastic bottles serve as “pots” for plants. Chained together and hoisted on a large wall, this installation will challenge community members to re-imagine the environmental and aesthetic impact of littering.

The community mural has been painted by members of the Toronto Emerging Artivists, under the mentorship of celebrated Toronto-based artist, Nick Sweetman. Adorned to a storefront currently under construction in the East York Town Centre, this large mural reflects the diversity, culture and beauty of one of Toronto’s most multicultural communities.

On May 3rd, passer-bys can see the accumulating hard work from local youth and residents who are passionate about art, community and environment. Attendees will be invited to make their own Eco Art, like pop-bottle planters, upcycled buttons, and screenprinted clothing (folks are invited to bring last season’s T-shirts!), as well as join us for a ribbon cutting, spoken word performance and celebrations!

These projects are the culmination of a partnership between the Toronto Emerging ARTivists (a youth-led collective of the STEPS Initiative) and the East York Town Centre, in collaboration with many local residents and community groups.

Additional eco art installations, including sculptures, murals and green walls will be unveiled throughout the year as part of this larger initiative.

WHEN: May 3rd, 3 – 5 PM
WHERE: In front of the Scotiabank, near the north-east entrance (East York Town Centre – 45 Overlea Blvd, Toronto)
VISUALS: Mural and eco art installation ribbon cutting with youth, action photos/videos of community members screen printing, making buttons, as well as youth spoken word performance.

Interviews with youth, organizers and community members will also be available.

The Toronto Emerging ARTivists and The STEPS Initiative
Toronto Emerging ARTivists (TEA), a collective of young people (ages 14 – 22) from across some of Toronto’s most underserved communities, is committed to improving their neighbourhoods through public art. Their mission is to bring communities together and speak out against issues facing our communities, including improving public spaces. With the support of their partners and mentors, they have led and supported several youth-led projects across Toronto, and have been recognized for their achievements, having received the 2013 Identify and Impact Community Arts Award on behalf of the Toronto Youth Cabinet. TEA is an incubated youth collective of the STEPS Initiative, an organization promoting the use of art to connect people with public spaces that was responsible for installing the World’s Tallest Mural in the summer of 2013, stemming from their Emerging ARTivist Program – a capacity building program that uses art to explore urban design issues.

TEA has been generously supported by the Laidlaw Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the City of Toronto, StreetARToronto, ArtReach Toronto, ArtStarts, the Toronto Arts Council (through Platform A), the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Diasporic Genius, the East York Town Centre and the Centre for Social Innovation.

Media contact:

  • Anjuli, Program Manager, the STEPS Initiative 647-773-2547 or anjuli@stepsinitiative.com
  • Alexis Kane-Speer, Director, the STEPS Initiative 647-999-0213 or alexis@stepsinitiative.com (media inquiries)

 

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Artist Nick Sweetman works with youth Arshiya Bawajir and Idris Ali on mural.

 

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Youth artists Ananna Olsharja Rafa and Arshiya Bawajir prototype bottle planters.

 

We’re looking for a Funding Sustainability Intern

We are looking for a Funding Sustainability Intern with an interest in public space, community arts, citizen/youth empowerment, or non-profit management/ fundraising to contribute to the research and development of grant proposals, sponsorship packages and innovative marketing tools in collaboration with Management and our Design Team. The Funding Sustainability Intern, will gain valuable marketing, research and grant preparation experience for a growing national organization on a topic of growing public concern, while being exposed to a broad range of funding opportunities.

 

Funding Sustainability Interns will become familiarized with a myriad of funding opportunities, and the process for accessing a diverse body of resources, as well as experience seeking sponsorship from corporate groups in the GTA. They will be asked to commit to approx. 8-12 hours of work per week, some of which may be able to be done from home on a flexible schedule, provided that firm deadlines can be met. Applicants should be able to commit to the placement for a period of at least 4 months.

 

It may be possible for Funding Sustainability Interns to utilize their experience with STEPS to fulfill academic requirements for an internship placement, and depending on eligibility criteria, incumbents may be eligible for an honorarium.

 

Requirements of the Position:

 

Applicants must have the following

  • Prior education or experience in a related field: arts administration, fundraising, business management, communications, marketing, non-for-profit management
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral
  • Capability to analyze, synthesize and summarize material
  • Motivation to work with little to no supervision
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to meet firm deadlines in a fast paced environment
  • Familiarity with the Microsoft Office Suite and Google Documents

Deadline for application: Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Please email Cover Letter and CV to Helen@stepsinitiative.com with the subject line “FUNDING SUSTAINABILITY INTERN”

We thank all interested parties, but only applicants that will be asked for an interview will be contacted.

For more information on the STEPS Initiative, please visit: www.stepsinitiative.com.

We’re looking for a Youth Eco Arts Program Development Intern

STEPS’ award-winning Emerging ARTivist Program is building the capacity of our next generation of ARTivists: those who use art to connect people to public spaces, by providing young people with a platform to propose their own public art projects. This workshop and leadership program which has been facilitated in both community and school settings, has resulted in several large-scale art installations (including the world’s tallest mural) and the launch of youth-led arts collectives across some of Toronto’s most under-served communities.

We are looking to adapt this program into a model that can be brought into schools (for varying age groups), including identifying segments of the program that can be developed into workshop plans with associated curricula materials that align themselves with the Ontario curriculum for both elementary and high school students, and are currently exploring a “fee-for-service” model of delivery.

 

STEPS is seeking someone passionate about sustainability, arts-education and program development to develop relationships with school administrators, teachers, community groups, and facilitators as well as develop new curricula units for this program in collaboration with other artists / educators. The incumbent will also be responsible for budget planning (materials, facilitator fees other program expenses), as well as collaborating on the development marketing materials for the program’s offerings / potential sponsors, such that it can be delivered over the 2014/2015 academic school-year.

 

This program planning will take place over summer 2014. The incumbent can expect to work flexible hours, provided that firm deadlines are met. They will be compensated at an hourly rate in accordance to the Ontario minimum wage laws, and can expect approximately 200 hours of paid employment.

 

Requirements of the Position:

Applicants must have the following

  • Prior education or experience in a related field: education; curriculum/program development; facilitation; youth empowerment; environmental studies, urban planning, arts, activism, etc.
  • Prior curriculum development experience; can be professional, academic or voluntary in nature
  • Capability to analyze, synthesize and summarize material for diverse audiences.
  • Strong communication skills (both written and oral).
  • Confidence engaging with the public (particularly youth).
  • Experience working with children and youth camps a strong asset, but not a requirement.
  • Motivation to work with little to no supervision.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Ability to meet firm deadlines.

 

Applicants should send a cover letter and resume to helen@stepsinitiative.com with “YOUTH ECO ARTS PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT INTERN” indicated in the subject line.

 

Applications are due no later than Friday, April 25th, 2014.

 

We thank all interested parties, but only applicants that will be asked for an interview will be contacted.

For more information on the STEPS Initiative, please visit: www.stepsinitiative.com.

We’re Looking for a Community Curatorial Intern

We are seeking a Community Curatorial Intern with an interest in public arts administration, curation, and/or community arts to contribute to support our public art projects. This could include, but is not limited to: supporting the promotion and coordination of bi-annual “Calls for Artists”; assisting with artist review committee coordination; developing community partnerships with arts/artist-serving agencies; supporting community outreach activities; liaising with and supporting the orientation of collaborating artists; assisting with project curation and management; contributing to the development of artists capacity building resources; as well as, supporting project documentation and evaluation activities.

Community Curatorial Interns will gain arts administration, coupled with an introduction to public arts curation experience, alongside the opportunity to build relations with a myriad of artists, arts advocates and cultural agencies. They will be asked to commit to approx. 30 hours of work per week, some of which may be able to be done from home on a flexible schedule, provided that firm deadlines can be met. Applicants must commit to at least 2 months with the project for an approximate total of 200 hours. The expected paid internship start date is May 2014.

Requirements of the Position

Applicants must have the following:

  • Prior education or experience in a related field: curatorial studies, arts management, community arts, arts education, art history, or visual studies
  • Familiarity with the format of public resource tools, especially those geared towards youth
  • A willingness to work collaboratively
  • Motivation to work with little to no supervision
  • Ability to meet firm deadlines in a fast paced environment
  • Prior experience / Interest in a related field: community arts, activism/advocacy, environmental studies, social sciences, etc. an asset, but not a requirement

 

Deadline for application: Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Please email Cover Letter and CV to Helen@stepsinitiative.com with the subject line “COMMUNITY CURATORIAL INTERN

Only successful candidates will be contacted for interviews.

 

 

We’re Looking for a Community Development Intern

We are seeking a Community Development Intern with an interest in community arts, citizen/youth empowerment, public space, or social justice to support a myriad of activities associated with our community-engaged art projects. This could include, but is not limited to: outreach for identifying / developing community partnerships in the neighbourhoods in which we work; supporting community outreach activities; recruiting project participants; liaising with collaborating artists; facilitating workshops; as well as supporting project documentation and evaluation activities.

Community Development Interns will gain facilitation and community outreach skills, coupled with experience in project management, alongside the opportunity to build relations with a myriad of community and cultural agencies. They will be asked to commit to approx. 30 hours of work per week, some of which may be able to be done from home on a flexible schedule, provided that firm deadlines can be met. Applicants must commit to at least 2 months with the project for an approximate total of 200 hours. The expected paid internship start date is May 2014.

Requirements of the Position

Applicants must have the following:

  • Prior education or experience in a related field: visual arts; facilitation; youth empowerment; activism/advocacy; community development; political science; education, etc.
  • Capability to analyze, synthesize and summarize material for diverse audiences
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects at the same time in a fast paced environment
  • Strong communication skills (both written and oral)
  • Confidence engaging with the public (particularly youth)
  • Experience working with diverse communities Motivation to work with little to no supervision
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to meet firm deadlines in a fast paced environment
  • Prior education or experience in a related field: community development, youth services, social work, environmental studies, urban planning, urban design/architecture, an asset
  • An up to date “vulnerable sector screening” from the Toronto Police (or willingness to undergo one)

 

Deadline for application: Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

 Please email Cover Letter and CV to Helen@stepsinitiative.com with the subject line “COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INTERN

Only successful candidates will be contacted for interviews.

 

 

 

We’re Looking for a Design Intern

We are looking for Design Interns with a working knowledge of desktop publishing software, as well as an interest in urban design / planning or public art to provide graphic and other design assistance for our PATCH Project, through which we install art onto development sites across the Toronto area. These projects will be produced in a collaborative setting with the rest of the Design Team. There will be the need for some work to be done independently and for firm deadlines to be met.

Design Interns will expand their portfolio by developing renderings and other visual material for clients, while bringing art to the streets of Toronto. They will be asked to commit to approx. 30 hours of work per week, some of which may be able to be done from home on a flexible schedule, provided that firm deadlines can be met. Applicants must commit to at least 2 months with the project for an approximate total of 200 hours. The expected paid internship start date is May 2014.

Requirements of the Position

Applicants must have the following:

  • Prior education or experience in a related field: design, architecture, urban planning, graphic design, or visual studies
  • Working knowledge of desktop publishing tools, e.g. Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator
  • Access to a computer with desktop publishing tools, including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator
  • A willingness to work collaboratively
  • Motivation to work with little to no supervision
  • Ability to meet firm deadlines
  • Prior experience / Interest in a related field: community arts, activism/advocacy, environmental studies, social sciences, etc. an asset, but not a requirement

Deadline for application: Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Please email Cover Letter, CV, and a sample of design work to Helen@stepsinitiative.com with the subject line “DESIGN INTERN

Only successful candidates will be contacted for interviews.

 

 

 

PATCH Announces its Spring 2014 Call for Artists

PATCH logoThe PATCH Project provides artists (like you!) with opportunities to exhibit their work in public – raising their profile while transforming Toronto’s streets.

We partner with land developers to showcase the work of local artists around construction sites and get them the exposure they need to move their career in the arts forward.

PATCH can help YOU:

  • develop your portfolio
  • get paid for exhibiting your work
  • connect with established artistic mentors
  • build a stronger foundation to launch your career

Our city has millions of feet of construction hoarding that can be the site of your next work of art (or a reproduction of your existing work)!

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to get your work noticed, and become part of a community of young artists while you’re at it.

For more information on applying to be a PATCH Artist: Please contact us.

 

Thank you,

The PATCH Team

“Up to Us”: STEPS’ Tallest Mural in the World covered by Centre for Social Innovation

The Centre for Social Innovation, in collaboration with journalist Sean Liliani, has produced this great 10 minute video on our recent Tallest Mural in the World project!

Over the summer of 2013, this youth-led art installation transformed a 32 story modernist social housing building into a vertical canvas for the world’s tallest mural through the engagement of hundreds of community members.

The mural’s design incorporates the motif of a bird soaring up, emblematic of a phoenix rising, to counter the negative stereotypes associated with St. James Town, alongside designs that represent themes of diversity, accessibility, local culture, safety and happiness weaved into its lower sections. Local artist and 200 Wellesley Street resident, George McIntyre says “I have never seen so many people stop by and look at our building.”

The mural is the culmination of STEPS’ Emerging ARTivist Program, which took place in the community for the year preceding the work’s unveiling in September 2012. Over 50 young people from the St. James Town community and hundreds of community members have been involved in the project in various ways. Internationally renowned artist, Sean Martindale worked with community members of all ages to help develop the mural’s design as the lead artistic facilitator. Dora, a 200 Wellesley tenant who has added her own designs onto the mural, says that it has been a pleasure to take part in this project and be recognized for it by her neighbours, “Everyone who sees my sunflowers tells me how much they like them!” Numerous other residents have shown immeasurable support, saying that the mural is “the best thing that’s happened here,” and that it has given the community a “brand new look.”

This project was funded by the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, with generous contributions from ING Direct, Dulux Paints and the Toronto Muralists.

World’s Tallest Mural in Toronto’s Backyard

The STEPS Initiative’s most impressive public art installation to date has been the recent creation of the World’s Tallest Mural in the heart of Toronto’s St. James Town community!

Developed through a series of community capacity building initiatives held over the last year, a 32 storey modernist social housing building was transformed in a world-record breaking vertical canvas that has forever transformed Toronto’s skyline. The mural is located in the diverse community of St. James Town (SJT), one of the most multicultural and densely populated areas in North America, and one that unfortunately suffers from overcrowding, a lack of quality public spaces, and aging housing stock. This youth-led project provided a great opportunity for residents of SJT to take part in a community initiative that created a colorful landmark in the neighbourhood that people could be proud of for years to come.

STEPS engaged over 50 young people from the St. James Town community through our Emerging ARTivist Program, providing them an opportunity to develop a public art project in their own community. In partnership with the local high school, Jarvis Collegiate Institute, alongside community partners, the St. James Town Community Corner and the St. James Town Youth Council, we recruited young people who lived or went to school in the community. This young people felt strongly that the often stigmatized St. James Town needed both more colour added to its predominantly grey streetscape, alongside a celebrated landmark, that would draw people into the community. David Essig, from the St. James Town Community Corner stated: “In my opinion, the greatest part of this mural project is the youth involvement. This experience is going to enrich their lives, both personally and professionally, and carry them forward.”

In collaboration with STEPS staff and Lead Artistic Facilitator, Sean Martindale, youth artists gathered stories from local residents that inspired the mural’s design, which incorporates the image of a phoenix, wrapping around the south facade of the building, starting at ground level and weaving up the entire height of the building (over 320 ft). The central image of the soaring bird, which resembles a blue jay, represents the positive characteristics that the youth associate with the community and their desire for the neighbourhoods to rise above its negative stereotypes and past hardships.

Most notable is the host building’s history. In 2010, a fire displaced approximately 1,200 residents, many of whom are low-income earners who live alone while dealing with mobility challenges, or mental health and addiction issues. Through community engagement activities, youth artists listened to the experiences and stories of hundreds of residents of 200 Wellesley, that were then weaved into the mural’s lower sections–a mosaic of smaller images and patterns alongside chalkboard sections that invite the the community to continually add, change, interact with and represent their evolving stories onto the work.

In addition to influencing the mural’s design, residents were engaged in the work’s creation through a series of ‘community paint days’. Residents who participated actively in the process stated that they want to see more projects like this across Toronto, proudly speaking to how the initiative “brought the community together”. While the lower sections were painted by community members of all ages, the Toronto Muralists (local professional painters) braved the heights to paint the mural’s upper sections.

Local City Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre – Rosedale) was very pleased with the project, stating: “Beautification of our public spaces is an essential component of building and maintaining healthy communities. This spectacular mural is a shining example of the resiliency and creativity of the young people of St. James Town, and stands as a beacon of pride in their community on display for all of Toronto to enjoy.” In agreement, Mayor Rob Ford said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in this exciting project that will add vibrancy to the Wellesley community.”

The project culminated in celebration as part of Culture Days, attended by over 1,000 community members who enjoyed free food, music, and participated in artistic activities, such as face and henna painting, and the screen printing of the mural design onto T-shirts they could take home. This was a Pan Am / Para Pan Am 2015 Ignite affiliated event.

Having garnered over 50 media hits across a variety of mainstream and independent media outlets, including CBC, the Globe and Mail, City TV, and Open City Projects, alongside a fair deal of traffic on social media, there was quite a bit of interest in this world-record breaking endeavour, which we hope will inspire more vertical art installation both within and outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

While the Guinness Book of World Records has confirmed that there is no taller mural on record, our application for this official title is still pending. We look forward to celebrating with you in the coming year!

This project was made possible by the generous support of the City of Toronto, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and ING Direct.

Interested in learning more about this project? Please contact Mojan Jianfar.


Lead Artistic Facilitator, Sean Martindale supports Emerging ARTivists in developing design concepts.
Photo Credit: Mojan Jianfar


Young resident of 200 Wellesley, Jaylin, helps paint his family’s story onto the mural’s lower sections.
Photo credit: Vera Belazelkoska


Emerging ARTivists and STEPS staff engages local residents in a Community Painting Day.
Photo Credit: Hello Foto


Emerging ARTivist, Samantha Goh, paints the lower sections of the mural.
Photo Credit: Hello Foto


The mural at its completion!
Photo Credit: Hello Foto

Soaring Phoenix Shirts Available

One of the most popular activities at our World’s Tallest Mural unveiling celebration was the screenprinting of the St. James Town soaring phoenix onto T-shirts, bags and other garments. Weren’t able to join us? Its not too late to get your own!

These can be ordered from local designers SUB URB.