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National Homeless Soccer Championships kick off in Hamilton July 18-19

As the Pan Am games represent the best in international athleticism, another kind of tournament will be kicking off—no pun intended—in Hamilton. Street Soccer Canada’s National Cup will take place in Hamilton July 18-19, where over a dozen teams from across Canada will compete to represent Canada at the upcoming Homeless World Cup this September in Amsterdam.

Paul Gregory, who founded the tournament in 2004, says its impact reaches far beyond the field. “Some of it is about awareness and education, and changing people’s mindsets about who these people are. When you see these guys on the field, and you see their ambition and their want to win, it opens some lines of communication.”

Players also use their skills off the pitch: some men have gone on to become referees (earning up to $200 per game), while others work in Street Soccer Canada’s laundry service. “It can lead to a lot of different things for these guys.”

Soccer also allows players the opportunity for some much-needed recreation in their lives. “If I go for a run, I feel good for the rest of the day," Gregory explains. "In a shelter system, the guys are on a schedule and people tell them where to go and when to do it.”

The chance to play on a team—especially one that could be headed to play for world championship—is also a source of pride. “You get people to see that sports are a powerful motivator for us. Why are these guys any different?” Gregory asks.

This year, the Street Soccer National Championships will coincide with the Pan Am games, which Gregory aims to take advantage of. “It’s right downtown Hamilton, and the walk-through audience will be pretty intense. It’ll be an interesting atmosphere, with soccer going on everywhere and these guys being a part of it. It’s a wonderful festival feel to it.” Gregory says the winning team’s trip to Europe will be financed by an IndieGoGo campaign later in the summer, and they’re also in the market for a national corporate sponsor.

Until then, the championships will remind audiences that the homeless men out on the field are part of their communities. “It’s created not only a local sense of belonging, but also national sense. These guys are valuable and worthwhile, and they can think of themselves as something national.”

CHFT helps send its community-minded members off to school

On June 16, The Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT) helped make post-secondary dreams come true for 30 university- or college-bound members.

The annual CHFT Diversity Scholarships were awarded to students in front of friends and family in a gala presentation at the Saint Lawrence Centre for the Arts. As CHFT Executive Director Tom Clement says, “It becomes very emotional for people.”

The scholarship, now in its 12th year, awards $1,500 over four years to students enrolled in post-secondary education. In their second, third, and fourth year, the scholarship is matched by the college or university, bringing the total scholarship amount up to $9,000. However, instead of being based on academic or athletic achievement, this scholarship is judged on community involvement.

To qualify, recipients must be a member of a Toronto co-op, and they must demonstrate a commitment to diversity. As Clement explains, “We’re promoting the idea that people be involved in a variety of community projects, and in Toronto, many of those things promote diversity. If a student volunteers with a faith group, or an a Black History month, or with a retirement home, those things promote diversity. People take on surprising activities,” Clement says. In addition to the scholarship, winners also receive credit counseling to help reduce what Clement calls the “crash and burn” of having to provide large lump sums to the schools. Recipients can also put the scholarship on hold if they need to take time away from school, and CHFT will continue to honour it when they return.

The effects of the scholarship can be far-reaching. Winners often go on to become leaders in their communities, which Clement sees in the co-op sector as well. “In the last number of years, we’ve had ten people under the age of thirty elected to the CHFT board of directors,” he says.

Clement has many stories of the personal impact, as well. One student saw her scholarships as a “vote of confidence” from her community. After another student’s difficult first year, she was hesitant to return to school, but her co-op gave her a “friendly intervention” and she ended up not only finishing her program, but earning a Master’s degree as well.

“Our students bring something different to the universities and the colleges,” Clement says. “Everybody has a stake in this.”

TIFF In Your Park brings top-notch programming to public spaces

The Toronto International Film Festival has a sterling reputation for bringing some of the world's best, most innovative, and most inspiring films to Toronto. Both during its annual festival, and year-round at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre on King Street, Torontonians have looked to TIFF for the best in film for the past 40 years. This year, they can look a little closer to home.

TIFF In Your Park, launched in collaboration with Park People, will see family-friendly movie titles screened around the city. Starting July 11, TIFF In Your Park will screen fourteen films in public parks around the city. David Carey, TIFF’s Director of Government and Foundation Relations, says, “At TIFF, we’re not a downtown-only institution. We’re Toronto’s home for film so we thought it was important to bring those cultural moments across the city.”

Titles like Fly Away Home and Ghostbusters will come to neighbourhood improvement areas, as well as Toronto Community Housing strongholds and high rise-intensive areas. TIFF is providing the AV support, while Park People have identified local community partners to help promote each screening. “We’re hoping that they’ll explore different types of cinema that they might not have seen before, and we’re hoping that TIFF bring people out of their homes for a shared experience,” says Carey.

TIFF In your Park has drawn their titles from hits and hidden gems TIFF has shown over their 40-year history. To kick off their anniversary year, TIFF will screen the 1992 TIFF People’s Choice Award winner Strictly Ballroom in David Pecault Square, near TIFF’s flagship cinema. The party will then spread across the city; the final screening, Australia’s Sapphires, about a Aborigine band, will screen at Fort York on September 25.

Carey says that some screenings might attract only 100 people, while others could see more than a thousand. But it’s not the number of people who come out, he says. It’s the experience that TIFF In Your Park is aiming for. “There’s something so special about sitting on the grass with your neighbours, and seeing a great film.” This summer, more Torontonians will get to experience that.

Story Planet's intergalactic creative writing mission

Strolling down Bloor Street, just west of Dufferin, people may be surprised to see a modest storefront advertising itself as an “intergalactic travel agency, since 2025.” Inside, a cafe serves lattes and lemonade, and space-themed art adorns the wall, and the agency’s real mission come to light. This is Story Planet, a charity devoted to helping kids in grades one through twelve become better writers.

“We believe strongly in helping kids find their voice. We have free workshops in writing, creative arts, and media,” explains Liz Haines, Executive Director (“and Alien Chieftess”) of Story Planet. The organization runs programming for budding writers. This includes after-school writing groups for teens and children; workshops that combine illustrators, facilitators and kids in a narrative free-for-all; and a classroom program that asks students to imagine what would happen if an alien ship crash-landed on their school. Participants often receive a copy of their work at the end of the workshop, and books of student-created stories are also available for sale at the cafe.

This Thursday, Story Planet will be hosting its first-ever open house. “We have so many people who are interested in what we do, and ask about what we do. This is their chance to come in and see what we do.” The open house will offer snacks, free wine and beer, and a reading by BC memoirist Miji Campbell. “It’s also a fundraiser, so we’re raising money to get the books published and into the hands of the kids who created them.” The fundraiser aims to raise enough to publish two books, but, as Haines explains, “there are actually four publications that are ready to go, and people can walk around and look and them and give us feedback on which ones they’d like to see in print. “

Since Story Planet opened nearly three years ago, it’s affected hundred of students in the neighbourhood and across Toronto. This open house, Haines says, will help "celebrate the kids. It’s so exciting to be able to pass on what they’re done.”

The Junction Summer Solstice Festival kicks summer into high gear

Summer officially begins this weekend, and in the Junction, they plan to celebrate. The annual Junction Summer Solstice Festival happens this Saturday from noon to midnight. “It’s a great chance to celebrate the eclectic vibe of the neighbourhood. We can cover a lot of interests,” says Jessica Myers, Executive Director of the Junction BIA.

The Festival, now in its fourth year, showcases local businesses and offers plenty of cultural and artistic programming. Local eateries like Indie Ale House and Bunner’s Bakery will be taking their wares to the sidewalk in what Myers calls ”curbside cuisine.” Home chefs can come out for the Junction Jubilee, a parade that kicks off at 7 PM in front of SMASH (2880 Dundas Street West). People are encouraged to decorate their bikes, strollers, and wagons, and the parade will finish up with a BYO-goodies picnic in Vine Parkette. “There will be food, but it’s about the gathering,” says Myers.

Throughout the day, festival-goers can check out a wide range of events. There will be street performers, such as musicians, buskers and Native dancers, not to mention public art (“We have really interesting art installations that we’re putting in to highlight the use of public space,” says Myers), a mural that will be created live, and a bike clinic. Local businesses get in on the act, too. “One store called ARTiculations is doing a huge cardboard carnival with their curbside closure,” says Myers. There will be outdoor yoga classes, family-friendly art workshops, and sales in the local retail shops, some of which will be open as late as midnight.

The Junction BIA funds and organizes the entire day. “It’s a nice chance to celebrate the neighbourhood overall. There a lot of people here, a lot of young families. Instead of going to festivals downtown or across town, they’re able to celebrate the reasons they live here,” says Myers. “We want to highlight the neighbourhood, and the businesses in the neighbourhood. Each business goes above and beyond and does their own individual events.”

"We Tell The Stories:" National Aboriginal Day comes to the Toronto Public Library

“We want to celebrate all facets of Aboriginal, Metis, and Inuit life, and provide a forum to discuss contemporary Aboriginal issues,” says Yvonne Hunter, Manager for Cultural and Special Events Programming at the Toronto Public Library. In celebration of Aboriginal History month in June, the Toronto Public Library has assembled a variety of events and programs, including this Sunday’s three-part celebration of National Aboriginal Day at the Nate and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library.

“The theme is Giganawendamin Dibaajimowinan, which means, ‘We keep the stories.’” The afternoon begins with Cherie Dimaline. Currently the TPL’s Writer in Residence, Dimaline will lead a traditional round dance alongside the Smoke Trail Singers. As Hunter says, “With the round dance, we welcome dancers, singers and storytellers.”

The second event will be The eh List Presents Lee Maracle and Marilyn Dumont. “They’re both incredibly impressive people,” says Hunter. Maracle, a Metis poet, is the author of A Really Good Brown Girl, and Dumont is a novelist and the author of Celia’s Song. They will be discussing traditions, boundaries, and a sense of self in Native communities.

As the final event, Michael Enright will host a panel discussion about the violence facing Canada’s indigenous women. Appearing on the panel will be Deborah Richardson, the Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; Angela Sterritt, a writer, motivational speaker, and artist; and Audrey Huntley of No More Silence. “This year, Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women are central to the panel discussion,” Hunter says.

All the events are free to the public, and Hunter is hoping that event has widespread appeal. “The salon audience is typically interested in culture, in contemporary issues, in literature, and this event represents all those things. We try to create pathways to culture through some of the programming we do.”

Hunter stresses that, while Aboriginal History Month may be in June, the library focuses on indigenous culture year-round through its Native Peoples collection. “Just because we focus the programming for a month doesn’t mean it’s not happening at other times. Wab Kinew is back in the salon in September, and that promises to be a really lovely event as well.”

Breakthroughs Film Festival gives a boost to emerging female directors

“One of the biggest problems is that women’s films aren’t being seen, so we want to showcase them,” explains Brian Carver. His solution? The Breakthroughs Film Festival, which he helped found four years ago. Breakthroughs focuses on emerging female directors, ages 18 to 35, and their short films. Carver and his wife, who co-founded the festival, credit their interest in feminism, gender disparity and film for the push to create the festival.

As their website explains, “Breakthroughs refers to the struggles women artists face in an industry where they make up only 6 percent of directors and must, in many cases, work even harder than their male counterparts to make their voices heard.” This year’s festival, held on June 5 and 6 at Innis Town Hall on the University of Toronto Campus, showcased seventeen films by Canadian and international directors. We give an opportunity for local filmmakers from Toronto and Ontario to have their work shown along international directors and in an international context. For the public, we give them a chance to see films that they otherwise wouldn’t see. We’re also helping raise awareness of that gender disparity in the arts,” Carver says

“We look for original stories and innovative production work. There seems to be this thought that women only make a certain type of film, and that’s not the case. We show action films, thrillers, romantic comedies, and the thing they have in common is that they’re directed by women.” This year’s winner, a meditation on memory called Somewhere Exactly, was directed by Quebec filmmaker Kristina Wagenbauer and shot in Paris.

This year’s festival included more chances for interactivity, such as Q & As with a growing number of film directors. “We’ve had more directors than we’ve ever had before come out to the festival. When you’re a short film director, there’s not a lot of opportunity to see your films with a large audience.” Breakthroughs is trying to change that.

Volunteer Toronto talks non-profit leadership with Grassroots Growth forums

Nearly 50% of Ontario’s non-profit organizations are run completely by volunteers, with no paid staff of any kind. Volunteer Toronto wants to know what kind of issues these groups face, and it’s organizing a series of focus groups to find out.

Nimira Lalani, a researcher and educator at Volunteer Toronto, says “These organizations often have small budgets and unique needs that are not completely addressed through existing resources.” Volunteer Toronto’s focus groups, called Grassroots Growth, will be trying to “build the capacity of grassroots organizations to improve their volunteer engagement.” Lalani says, “We are looking for small, volunteer-run organizations, with no paid staff and budgets under $75,000, based in Toronto, to participate in these focus groups.” They’re especially interested in hearing about the groups’ experiences with volunteers: how to recruit, organize, and retain them.  

The Grassroots Growth program has goals for both the short- and long-term health of the province’s non-profit community. In addition to networking, the four focus group sessions will give grassroots groups “the opportunity to share their volunteer management needs and experiences with similar organizations in a supportive context,” Lalani explains.

Combined with other elements of Volunteer Toronto’s environment scan—which will include an online survey, a literature review, and interviews with key stakeholders in the sector—the end result will be supportive educational materials and a peer mentorship program. Volunteer Toronto is aiming to make these tools available free of charge to grassroots groups across Ontario out in the fall of 2016.

In the meantime, the Grassroots Growth forums will be taking place in Toronto in June and July, with the first focus group on June 10.  People from volunteer-run non-profit agencies can find out more information about participating at Volunteer Toronto’s Grassroots Growth web page. Says Lalani, “The goal of this project is to build the capacity of grassroots organizations to improve their volunteer engagement.”

Inspire Awards light up Toronto's LGBTQ community

Five years ago, Antoine Elhashem had a revelation. “I was in a LGBTQ conference about travel, and it occurred to me: I know so many great businesses, organizations and people, and there’s no body who has the sole job of celebrating those people.” From this simple idea—celebration of LGBTQ success stories—the Inspire awards was born. “In five months, we had a sold-out event at Casa Loma. It was really rushed the first year, but it ended up being very effective. People onstage being honoured literally had tears in their eyes, and we knew it had to continue.”

On May 29, the Inspire Awards recognized nine recipients in categories as diverse as the LUX Award for the Arts, the LGBTQ Youth of the Year award, and the Inspiring Community Organization of the Year. “We say 'recipient' instead of 'winner,' because really, they are all winners,” Elhashem says. This year’s recipients included Ferriera-Wells Immigration Services, who specialize in same-sex couples and individuals, as well as Susan Gapka for her work on LGBTQ issues, which saw her partnering with organizations as diverse as the Toronto Police Services and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

This year’s awards also included the Tribute to LGBTQ in Sports and the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, which featured swimmer Mark Tewksbury, MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and power lifter Kinnon Mackinnon. Each of the athletes shared stories of their own experiences as gay sports participants. “This was specifically for the occasion of the big sporting event. We believe it will help shed light on the struggles of LGBT athletes. We worked with the Pan Am games and had their blessing,” says Elhashem.

The awards themselves bring together both Toronto’s LGBTQ community and those who support it. “We celebrate a lot of allies, and a lot of the guest of the awards being their friends and families to experience the community,” says Elhashem. “The effect of it on us, it has really has changed our lives. The stories we hear every year, and the feelings that happen at the actual event. Everyone is about love and positivity.”

100in1Day aims for a one-day whirlwind of civic engagement

“What is the change you’d like to spark?” That’s the question that Aurelia Dalinda, project lead at 100in1Day Toronto, wants Torontonians to answer. Started in Bogota, Columbia in 2012, 100in1Day has gone worldwide as a day-long festival of “interventions:” urbanist ideas, community networks, and localized change-making aimed at fostering a greater sense of civic engagement. On June 6, 100in1Day comes to Toronto.

Now in its second year in Toronto, Dalinda says that the idea is for Torontonians to think critically about how to improve the city around them. Residents can submit their ideas through the event’s website. For folks who want to be involved but need a little help, 100in1Day has been offering workshops at the Toronto Public Library on what makes a good intervention and how to organize one. “From art to social change, it’s getting people to think differently about public space. Toronto is so diverse, and each ward’s needs are so diverse. These are people responding to their community’s needs through their interventions.” The interventions are spread out across the city, including eight interventions north of the 401 highway.

This year’s urban intervention leaders include a young man who organizing a basketball tournament at his underused and underutilized community in the Jane and Finch area. “His goal,” Dalina explains, “is to get people to interact.” Slow Dance: Masquerade is returning after a successful deployment last year; organizers are working towards a “family friendly evening event,” which sees the St Clarens Parkette at Dundas Street and Lansdowne Avenue transformed into a masquerade ball complete with bubbles, music, and dancers in disguise.

The Toronto Foundation is getting in on the act, offering three $10,000 prizes to interventions that can be scaled up to serve more Torontonians. But no matter what the scale or the scope, Dalinda thinks the 100in1Day events will have an impact. “It’s a day of community improvement and random acts of kindness. We sometimes have the reputation as not being so open with one another, and this is a chance to open our selves, our neighborhoods, and our hearts up to one another.”

Annual HERstory conference transforms and supports girls in Toronto Community Housing

“Transforming girls empowers them to become leaders in their families and their communities. When you empower a girl, that stays with her throughout her lifetime and she goes on to empower other girls in her life.” Simone Atungo is the director of resident engagement and community development at Toronto Community Housing, and she’s talking about the impact of HERstory, an annual one-day conference for girls age 13-16. This year’s conference, which will be held at Alexander Stirling Public School on May 23, will host between 80 and 100 girls.

The goal of HERstory, Atungo says, “is to give young girls a wide exposure to different types of communities they might interested in.” Speakers at the event will include women from many different walks of life, and girls will have an opportunity rub shoulder with nurses, bloggers, activists, sports agents, and business owners. The day will be moderated by Paulette Senior, the CEO of the YWCA, and emceed by Nadine Liverpool, a former national team soccer player. “It’s an opportunity for young women to get to see adult women who came through similar pathways to achieve great things in their life.” HERstory participants will have a chance to talk about topics as diverse as social media and healthy relationships, and be entertained by musical acts, dance troupes, and spoken word performers.

The girls will also have an opportunity to get to know one another. “We want to leave a lot of time for the young women to network and talk to each other throughout the day. We’ll have what we call wisdom circles: discussions about what they’re learning, what they want for the future, and their path to get there,” Atungo explains. This can help reduce the impression that they’re the only people facing challenges. “Some of the impact is really creating a space for young women to connect about the things that impact their lives, and looking for common interests and experiences, so you don’t feel so isolated.”

The Local Dish serves up all-star ingredients and local food

May is peak asparagus season in Ontario, and Nancy Ruscica knows it. She’s heading up the new program The Local Dish at the city of Toronto, and asking local residents and chefs to come up with ways to show off the slender green stalks. Folks have taken the challenge and run with it. “We got a recipe for asparagus dogs—like hog dogs, but with asparagus. Apparently kids love it!” she laughs.

The Local Dish was born out of the Live Green Toronto’s previous success working with city day cares to develop what Ruscica calls “kid tested and approved” recipes, which were then collected into a booklet. This time around, they’re using the popular online curation platform Pinterest. Ruscica says the decision to use Pinterest came after a search for method that would make it easy to see and share the recipes online. “Pinterest became the natural choice, because it’s a visual platform. It’s easy to repin [recipes] and for like-minded individials to find each other.”

Users can send their recipes to Live Green Toronto on Pinterest, which then compiles the submissions into boards themed around each month’s all-star ingredient. People can also send in recipes via email or on Twitter. In return, they’ll be entered into a draw for a monthly prize. Adventurous cooks who develop their own dishes featuring the all-star ingredient may see their recipe featured on The Local Dish’s website and in their newsletter. Toronto chefs are also getting in on the all-star action; this month, Fabio Bondi from Parkdale’s Local Kitchen and Wine Bar prepares sauteed asparagus with guanciale, a type of cured meat; the recipe can be found The Local Dish’s website.

“It’s been said, and I really believe it, that food is the great equalizer. You don’t have to be a foodie to join that conversation,” Ruscica says. Working with local ingredients offers plenty to inspire cooks in both home kitchens and restaurants. “Choosing local helps support farmers and Ontario’s economy. There’s the more environmental aspect, because food doesn’t have to be shipped over far distances. And the food is nutritious, more flavourful, and fresher.”

Shape My City offers city-builders an online community

Shape My City knows that Torontonians are full of great community-building ideas. It also knows that connecting people with the same vision can be tricky.

Caitlin Colson, project manager at Shape My City, tells co-founder Margie Zeidler’s story of being approached by people with great ideas; she would then connect them with the people she knew who were thinking along similar lines, or already had  projects in motion. “She felt like a hub that was constantly trying to connect all these spokes. She wondered, how could people find each other? And how would they not have to rely on connections that they may not have personally?” Colson says. From this question, Shape My City was born.

“It’s a network,” Colson explains. “We’ve custom-built a website for people to interact.” Aspiring city-builders can sign up for a free profile, then track interesting projects. There are meetings, conferences, film screenings, online book clubs, and more. Users can also take the plunge and create their own working groups, projects, and events, with the capacity for other community members to join them.

The website, which launched in September 2014, currently has about 350 members and lists more than 75 projects. These range from the annual YIMBY Festival, which celebrates and showcases the work of community grassroots organizations, to events like this month’s We Are Cities: Housing roundtable discussions on important urban issues and which features local experts. “People can search the site by the different issue tabs, and see what’s out there. We do a lot of cross-connecting and help bridge those gaps,” says Colson. The issue tags include topics like gender, urban planning, education, and arts and culture; users can also search by keyword, or browse different events for inspiration.

“We’re trying to help the people who get things done do them better,” Colson says. “We want to offer people and groups greater visibility, and increase the chance that they find interesting people to come work with them.”

Toronto Animated Image Society gets trippy in their annual showcase

“I’m definitely anticipating lots of swirly colours, and strobes.” Keir-La Janisse laughs. She’s the Administrative and Programming Coordinator at the Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS), an artist-run centre on Dufferin Street that provides support, inspiration, and training to animators. This year, TAIS’s annual animation showcase will centre on psychedelia; hence the swirling colours.

”At our AGM back in the fall, we took a vote for various different theme ideas. They ranged from cats to the occult, and psychedelic was the one everyone liked. There’s a lot of ways you can interpret that as animator; it just means something that’s mind-expanding or trippy or weird. There’s a lot of room to be experimental,” Janisse explains. Animators can submit films up to ten minutes long until May 15, and the selected films will screen at Cinecycle on July 25. The audience can expect a mix of Canadian and international work, culled from over 300 submissions.

Beyond the showcase, TAIS focuses on providing support to its members, and inspiration to the larger community. Fans of animation can get a TAIS supporting membership, while a studio memberships allows people to use the TAIS space for their work and gives them access to specialized equipment like animation kits and large-format scanners. They offers a paid artists’ residency, funded by the Petman Foundation, that allows an animator six months of studio space. TAIS also teams up with local organizations to bring animations workshops out into the world. “We did one at UT Schools for a hundred kids. We had four animation kits and five instructors, and the kids made some really cool shorts,” Janisse says. They’re also partnering with Sketch and TIFF for a youth-oriented workshop.

But events like the Animation Showcase really bring the spirit of what TAIS does to the forefront. It’s the city’s “most non-industry-related animation showcase event,” Janisse says. “There’s lots of animation in Toronto, but this is a very different mindset from the big companies. These are people who are literally making animated film with their own hands and their own money. This is auteur work.”

Toronto Arts Foundation announces 2015 award nominees

Now in its tenth year, the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards offers local artists and organizations a chance to win up to $15,000 in honour of their work in creative fields. This year’s winners will be announced on May 28.

In the Arts for Youth category, local standouts include the Young People’s Theatre, which is the oldest youth theatre in Toronto; the youth-led Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture; and The Remix Project, which targets underserved youth in the GTA. In the Emerging Artist category, composer Emilie Lebel is nominated alongside filmmaker Chelsea McMullin and writer, musician, performer and filmmaker Vivek Shraya.

The award offers more than just a cash reward. Jennifer Green, Associate Director at the Toronto Arts Foundation says, “Obviously, there’s a financial award that comes with the nomination, but it’s really about the artist’s contribution to the city. A good example is last year’s winner for Emerging Artists, Jordan Tannahill. After he won the Toronto Arts Foundation award, he won a landslide of other awards, including the Governor General’s Award. It’s a snowball effect.”

Green explains, “The awards are about artistic excellence. That’s recognition from your peers, and it’s also about making the effort to bring the all those different people into the room. The recognition for the artists is about seeing the commitment to their art form, but it’s also about this bigger picture of city-building.” The awards, hosted by Mayor John Tory, are attended by local politicians, business leaders, and artists. “There’s a lot of synergy that comes from putting those people in a room together and letting them connect,” Green says.

The Toronto Arts Foundation Awards are part of a larger vision for the future, called Creative City: Block by Block. As Green explains, “We want to connect every neighbourhood of Toronto to both the social and economic benefits of the arts. We’re working with over 40 corporate partners, BIAs, and people in the private sector.”
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