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Civic Impact

More Arts in More Parks: Toronto Arts Council launches new artists initiative

Molly Johnson and Brodie Stevenson in Julia Aplin's Inner City Sirens part II, Dusk Dances 2010 in Withrow Park.

Dance, drama, literature, media art, community-based art, all presented on the grasses and playgrounds of Toronto’s parks? Get ready to see more of it in 2016, as Toronto Arts Council prepares to launch a new grant program to animate green spaces all over the GTA.

"Parks play a very important role in the lives of people in the city: hugely important part of the public realm, and people should take ownership of their park spaces,” says Erika Hannebury, Program Officer at the Toronto Arts Council.

While downtown residents already have opportunities to see the arts in public spaces—think of The Dream in High Park—this new initiative will focus on parks outside the city’s core. All of the 23 parks are “all located in the inner suburbs,” explains Hannebury. “We’re really concentrating outside the downtown core, and really trying to more equitable access to this type of project funding.”

In its inaugural year, the program offers up to $15,000 in funding per park, and is part of the larger Arts In the Park strategy. Hannebury anticipates that the majority of applicants will already have a history of making park-based art, and that part of the program’s aim to ensure that those artists are properly paid for their work. “People have been doing this for years, so we’re also hoping to continue to work with those companies and organizations,” she says, adding, “We really want to support and enable artists who have been making art in parks all over the GTA.”

Interested applicants must attend one of four information session before they can submit their grant proposal. The information session on December 5 links up with the On the Ground Symposium, presented by the Toronto Arts Council and Maybell Arts, a day-long exploration of park- and public-space-based art across the GTA. “There are so many different things that we have to be aware of. They can be sensitive natural areas, and we don’t want to love these parks to death. We want to engage them."
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