Community Connect Feature #1: North York Arts
North York Arts (NYA) is a small (but mighty!) arts charity in the North York region of Toronto whose mission is to collaborate with artists, arts organizations, and partners to produce and strengthen local arts programming for North York communities. We are one of Toronto’s six official Local Arts Service Organizations (LASOs) who work together to achieve the city’s cultural goals outside of the downtown core.
We were established by The Toronto Arts Foundation in 2011 after they recognized a need for arts services in the area. For the last 10 years, NYA has been hard at work delivering arts programming, cultural events, advocacy, and opportunities to families, youth, seniors, newcomers, and emerging and established artists. Through each NYA initiative, our team is striving towards our vision of an inclusive, equitable, engaged and sustainable arts community in North York.
Photo by Felipe Noriega
We are proud to serve many communities within North York and grateful to work with so many talented partners to make our initiatives possible. As an ever-growing organization, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that we have only scratched the surface; NYA has a lot more work to do to ensure that we’re reaching our vision across North York’s six vibrant wards.
With that said, here is a glimpse of how NYA is currently serving our communities and plans we have for the future. Generally, NYA’s programs can be understood in the following five pillars:
Artists in the Community where we provide long-term and short-term programs responding to community needs
Professional Development and Entrepreneurship consisting of programs that provide resources for artists in North York and the wider Toronto community
Revitalizing Public Space and Cultural Tourism presents free events to North York and connected communities in parks and public spaces
Volunteer, Internship and Mentorship provides artists, residents, youth, and newcomers with diverse and accessible volunteer, internship, and mentorship opportunities.
Special Projects consist of citywide initiatives that run in collaboration with key partners and/or programs with a unique mandate.
Photo by Ebony Viani-Singer
Each of our programs, both internal and external, fit in one of these categories while the programs themselves have unique mandates. While there are many programs to mention, here are a few that we’d like to highlight:
Northbound Exhibition Program
Northbound Exhibition Program, funded by the Ontario Arts Council, is a free juried art program that was created in 2019 to support the professional development of emerging artists. The program prioritizes new-generation (18-29 years old) artists, newcomer artists, and artists with a connection to the North York community. While the program was on hold due to COVID-19, we will be coming back online this year! (stay tuned!).
The Animation Project
In partnership with Toronto Animation Image Society, and funded by the Government of Canada, we provide a 12- week online digital animation course for adults 55+. Participants connect with peers, channel their creative expression, and develop digital literacy.
Art Connects was a cultural competency training program for NYA Staff board, and community partners, funded by the Government of Canada. The program addressed how North York Arts can better incorporate/adapt to some of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Throughout this program, we asked ourselves: As a non-Indigenous organization, what can we do to support the process of decolonization and build right relations with Indigenous communities?
Beyond our past and current programs, NYA has just released our 2021-2024 Strategic plan. After months of work behind-the-scenes, NYA is proud to share the official strategic plan that will guide us to better serve North York communities over the next three years! Our goals and action steps are clear, with the guidance of the following three strategic directions:
Enhance local arts programming & connections in North York
Build organizational resiliency & capacity
Create systemic change for the organization
We encourage you to read the plan to get a full understanding of what we hope to achieve, and most importantly, to hold us accountable. It’s imperative to the NYA team that our community trusts that we are taking strides to achieve our vision of an inclusive, equitable, engaged, and sustainable arts and culture community in North York.
For more information on our story and our programs, please join us online via our website, social media, or sign up to our newsletter. We look forward to connecting with you!