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. Our mission is to bring communities together and speak out against issues facing our communities, including improving public spaces. TEA encourages members to take action in their community, through the development of public art projects. In addition to providing youth volunteer hours, we provide youth with opportunities to build important skills including: fostering safe social networks, building confidence and employment skills like grant writing, outreach and project management, amongst others. As a group, they have identified five important gaps that we are currently focusing on addressing:
- Creating safer, more beautiful and litter free public spaces around their community
- Empowering and providing a voice for youth at community planning initiatives
- Eliminating stigma and promote collaboration between neighbourhoods
- Creating leadership opportunities for youth to develop as civic leaders, particularly young women and immigrant youth
- Drawing attention to local environmental issues.
With the support of their partners and mentors (among which STEPS is one), they have led and supported several youth-led projects across Toronto. Overall, they have increased the enthusiasm for art in the community, and have been recognized for their achievements, having received the 2013 Identify and Impact Community Arts Award on behalf of the Toronto Youth Cabinet. The Toronto Emerging ARTivists have received financial support from the Toronto Arts Council, Laidlaw Foundation, ArtReach Toronto, as well as the City of Toronto’s Identify N Impact and Live Art programs.