Community Arts Canopy: Rebuilding Toronto’s Arts & Culture Sector

Amidst another lockdown, our communities are turning to many community arts organizations as a creative outlet to help cope and accessing resources to express their stories and feelings through art. 

Community arts are a catalyst for people to connect, inspire and empower themselves while improving their health and well-being. During a time of social distancing, we are all focused on filling the gap of community engagement and social connections through necessary activities and programs. 

This past June, we joined other community arts organizations friends (Arts Etobicoke, Scarborough Arts, North York Arts, Urban Arts, East End Arts, ArtStarts, Sketch, Jumblies, Vibe Arts and with the support of the Neighbourhood Arts Network) across the city of Toronto to create the Community Arts Canopy. An initiative to focus on advancing the practice and network of community art. Each organization has been involved in various advocacy meetings, round-tables and discussions, but we saw a gap in how Community Arts are represented. 

The Community Arts Canopy hosted a Community Arts Town Hall. This event gathered over 136+ arts and cultural organizations and grassroots collectives/groups to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted their work, what resources are needed and how we can collaborate to rebuild and repair the sector. 

The result is that key information was gathered from GTA-based leaders in the community arts sector on the impacts of COVID-19 on their organizations, artists and stakeholders. Read the Townhall summary HERE.

Following the Town Hall event, a survey was circulated requesting additional information to all participants, and 75 responses were captured. The survey deepened our understanding of the current challenges faced by the sector during a pandemic, as well as opportunities for enacting positive change in local communities with continued support from funders and all levels of government.

A full copy of the survey is available to read HERE.

East End Arts wrote an in-depth summary of the Town Hall and their reflections on how Community Arts Organizations. They wrote, “We are the ones which are best equipped to rebuild trust in our communities, to strengthen our neighbourhoods, and to help assist our City in its recovery plan.” Read more.