Live Painting Competition Among Party Games For Art Starts Fundraiser

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Art Starts has been bringing professional artists and under-resourced neighbourhoods together in community-building arts programs across Toronto for 22 years, and it will host a fundraising “Art Starter Party” this week to help celebrate and support its work.

The party will feature a live painting competition involving Art Starts painters Kim Dayman, Fly Lady Di and Bruno Smoky, as well as interactive art stations, a silent auction and food from chef Adam Wiener from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at Toronto’s The Uptown Loft.

Funds raised at the event will benefit Art Starts’ charitable programming initiatives in the city’s Oakwood and Eglinton, Glendower, Villaways, and Lawrence Heights and Neptune neighbourhoods.

“Our relationships with the four neighbourhoods we work with came rather organically,” Art Starts managing director Liz Forsberg told Samaritanmag. “We were founded by a group of artists living and working in the Oakwood and Eglinton neighbourhood 22 years ago, and we have continued to work in this neighbourhood. In the other three neighbourhoods, we were invited by local groups and residents who saw the impact of our work and wanted to collaborate with us.”

Art Starts is based in the Yorkdale Community Arts Centre at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

Projects such as an after-school arts immersion program for kids, a compact disc produced by participants in the School of Rap program, tree planters adorned with photo-based tiles on Eglinton Avenue, a large-scale photo installation project throughout the Villaways Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood in the Leslie Street and Sheppard Avenue area, community murals and a massive community mosaic surrounding the main public space in the Glendower Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood contributed to the charitable organization winning the Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2013 Arts for Youth Award.

Art Starts also offers specialized programs, including its current Sew What?! project that mentors 14- to 22-year olds on the design, creation and marketing of garments. The program is made possible through a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Art Starts is also part of Platform A — a partnership with the Toronto Arts Council, Arts for Children and Youth, Jumbles Theatre and SKETCH — which aims to fuse the strengths and experiences of the respective organizations to support seeding sustainable, high-quality community arts practices and provide increased access to the arts. Opportunities are created through shared platforms, mentorships, organizational bridge-building and micro-grants.

Forsberg provided Samaritanmag with this list which illustrates Art Starts’ impact and reach in 2013: 1,240 hours of community-building arts workshops; 39 programs; 23 performances and exhibits; 998 participants; 89 artists; 45+ community partners; 27 volunteers; and 756 volunteer hours.

Art Starts’ 2013 budget was $532,564 and will be around $600,000 this year. Funding primarily comes from government grants, foundation and public support grants, special projects, awards, donations, workshops, sponsorships, lottery income and interest income.

“This is our first Art Starter Party, though we have held other fundraisers in the past,” said Forsberg of this week’s event. “They range from breaking even to raising upwards of $10,000. We're hoping to make the Art Starter Party an annual event.”

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Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.