The Official Celebrating 100 Years in St. James Town

In July 2011, Art City began a year long community arts mural program titled Celebrating 100 Years in St. James Town. The project was funded through a Toronto Arts Council Community Arts Engagement Grant, and was developed by Art City’s Artistic Director Gillian Foster.  Art City partnered with three community organizations who also serve children and youth in the St. James Town community – Central Neighbourhood House, UforChange and City Hope. The goal of the program was to increase cross-agency programming and awareness of social, recreational and resources available to family’s and youth in the community.

 We can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by, as we wrapped up our final mural in June with City Hope. We wanted to take a look at the projects along the way and share the finished pieces!

 Artist Paul Boddum kicked off the start of the program during Summer 2011, working with 306 children and youth (42 were youth) Central Neighbourhood House. The 30 foot mural was completed on the wall of the CNH’s gym – a community hub for recreational and fitness programs for residents of all ages. The mural celebrates CNH’s 100 anniversary in the St. James Town community, and promotion of healthy living. It incorporates ideas of motion, inclusion, progress, direction and the diversity of clients who attend CNH.

November marked the start of the second phase of our community mural making project with UforChange – an arts education based program that serves youth and new comer youth between the ages of 16 and 29, in the St. James Town Community and GTA. Art City’s Gillian Foster and UforChange’s Ervie Ayagan co-art directed the project working with 10 local youth. The mural was completed over 6 months and reflects 5 key areas of programming offered by UforChange – instrumental music, film and video, photography, dance and graffiti arts. Using the skills learned in UforChange’s digital photography class, youth photographed and sourced workshop images. Next youth learned how to digitally edit the images to create tri toned pictures and create a composite of the mural. Finally the youth made transparencies, and overhead projections were used to help sketch and paint their design.  The final mural is 24 feet long and can be seen at UforChange’s new offices at the Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club in Regent Park.

In April 2012, Artist Educator Tiffany Villahermosa began working with City Hope’s Homework Club in St. Simon’s Church. Each Monday afternoon Tiffany worked with a group of grade 1-6 students, eager to share stories about their program, friends, and community. This was the first art class for many students at Homework club. Tiffany worked with 25 children throughout 8 weeks to tell the story of homework club, which provides free after school homework help for elementary school children. The final mural is displayed at St. Simon’s church, so the students can continue to see their work. This afterschool program was supported by 30 adult volunteers and 23 parents who live in the community.

Together we used the arts as a tool to celebrate and join the histories and longevity of these agencies through mural painting to establish partnerships that will have lasting value for the community of St. James Town. This has been a rewarding project for Art City as we have strengthened out reach programs and partnerships, beautified our community while meeting many creative children and youth along the way.

Special thank you to the Toronto Arts Council and Second Harvest for providing Nutritional Snacks.

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Filed under Arts, Community, Events, Murals, St. James Town, Toronto, Youth

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