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Arts for Social Justice- Krystal & Igho


The Arts for Social Justice (ASJ) program is a three-year initiative that aims to promote the arts as catalysts to tackle social issues in society. It does this through high school workshops and emerging artists residencies. Here is an artist’s experience working on an ASJ project.

Krystal Kiran and Igho Diana Itebu share their experience teaching through the ASJ program.

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Arts for Social Justice- Allison Beula

The Arts for Social Justice (ASJ) program is a three-year initiative that aims to promote the arts as catalysts to tackle social issues in society. It does this through high school workshops and emerging artists residencies. Here is an artist’s experience working on an ASJ project.

My name is Allison Beula, I am a director and choreographer, and I specialize in teaching dance and drama to youth. My work with VIBE and the Arts for Social Justice program has been incredibly rewarding, and frankly, enlightening. To be frank, I was very intimidated when I first heard about the concept, what if it was too difficult? Would students want to participate in such a weighted and serious concept? How would we be able to use art to express such serious issues in a school and youth setting? All fears were eliminated for me from the very first session I had. Having worked with multiple different groups, large, small, older, younger, I was constantly amazed by the perspective of opinions from the students, and how no project was even remotely like any other, but all were able to truly embody the idea of spreading a message, making an issue known, through art. One group, a small one, all students who were identified with special educational needs, did a group project where each one picked something important to them to speak about and make their voice heard on, then we did a group protest march, choreographed, with a unison chant, and individual “picket signs” which highlighted their chosen issue. This was successful on so many counts, it allowed each student to have an individual artistic component, a personal issue that they were passionate about, but it also allowed them to share that opinion and issue with one another, culminating in a group piece that united them all as one. What an amazing project to be a part of, I was honoured to witness it. Other projects had older students delve into a deeper side of many of the issues, more intricate questions and thoughts about how a work of art, be it visual, physical, or both, can truly make someone think, feel, experience. Seeing students faces light up with the “a ha!” moment when they realized that they created something that wasn’t a paper, wasn’t a speech, but was as effective as, if not more than, through art, to make their voice heard. No only did the student get to experience this power via art for themselves in terms of their own topic and issue choice, but sharing those pieces and projects with one another allowed so many more topics and issues and ideas and feelings to be shared and discussed through one another. This is one of the most successful, creative, and powerful project I have ever been a part of, and I am thrilled with the results.



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Looking back at Arts for Social Justice Project with Jennifer Chin

Arts for Social Justice project is funded by Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Artist and Arts Educator Jennifer Chin shares her experience working on the Arts for Social Justice Project.

My time working with the Arts For Social Justice program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career as an artist educator. My goal with every program I lead is to support and facilitate participants in expressing their ideas through visual art. To do this through the lens of social justice and human rights was a thoroughly engaging experience and one that reminded me of why I began working as an educator in the first place.

One moment that stands out happened at the very end of one of the sessions at a high school in the west end. We were wrapping up for the day when one of the participants made an interesting directorial suggestion. After a quick discussion with the group and a unanimous vote in favour of the idea, I left and then returned the next day with the equipment we needed to begin filming. The participant was surprised and said to me, “We’re filming this? I wasn’t serious!” and I replied, “you said it, the group voted, and now it’s happening so let’s go!” After some encouragement, he reluctantly began to direct the group and as the day progressed, I watched as his confidence grew as he took charge of the filming and his suggestion ultimately became the title and the main vision for the piece.

(Collage made by Jennifer Chin)

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Polar Bears in the Arctic

On Tuesday, September 26th VIBE Arts had the pleasure of joining the the Toronto Zoo and the students and teachers of Military Trail Public School (MTPS), in the unveiling of a 50+ foot Polar bear mural, installed on the back of the Toronto Zoo’s Polar Bear Habitat.

This hand painted mural was the outcome of the teamwork, artistry and vision of the students of MTPS and the Toronto Zoo, who collectively aimed to make a difference in the lives of our world’s polar bears by spreading awareness and creating advocacy around polar bear conservation.


The project originated as an idea belonging to Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care Supervisor, Hollie Ross, who realized the impact that this artwork, and its process, could have in educating the public and future generations about polar bears and what we can do to be a part of their survival. It was important to Hollie that the community was involved in the creation of this project, to really inspire the public and especially the youth, to take on this issue. VIBE Arts was thrilled to be able to partner the Toronto Zoo with the students of MTPS to bring the mural, titled Polar Bears in the Arctic, to life.


Before creating the mural, the students of MTPS enjoyed an educational presentation led by the Toronto Zoo’s Polar Bear Keepers, and then returned to their school to combine their new understanding of arctic life with lead artist Sandra Tarantino’s vision, to create their masterpiece.

Over the course of two months, VIBE Arts worked with Sandra and 62 MTPS students, grades four through eight, in facilitated art workshops that gave many students who were newcomers to Canada, and the school, an opportunity to build relationships with other students, develop confidence as a student and artist, and learn more about Canadian species and their environments.


By painting 21 hand-painted panels depicting arctic animals and their unique habitats, the students were key players in creating change, both in design and in action, to better the lives of the Polar Bears who inspired their mural. Through this amazing partnership, the students of MTPS created a beautiful and important mural, in an art education process that they will not soon forget.

It is thanks to the community partnership between VIBE Arts, The Toronto District School Board, The Toronto Zoo and The Great-West Life Assurance Company, that zoo-goers can now take a ride on the Zoomobile and be inspired by the beautiful artwork of MTPS students mounted on the Polar Bear Habitat Exhibit, while being reminded of the extraordinary lives of our world’s arctic species.

“I didn’t think I liked art, but now I know I love it.” – Asna, Military Trail Public School Student

AEI- Bookkeeping Basics for Artists

“Do I even need to file my taxes? What can I claim as an expense? How do I account for income from various agencies?”

No need to stress too hard, as VIBE Arts will be hosting, “Basic Bookkeeping for Artists” on Thursday, March 2nd, from 6:30-9:00 PM with Jennifer Chin.

Jennifer has tonnes of lived experiential knowledge as she is a professional visual artist and educator who has worked with VIBE since 2003 and comes to this workshop with over 18 years experience being self-employed as an artist and educator.
The admission is FREE, which includes FREE food and FREE tokens to get you home.

Lunchroom Transformation Program Updates!

Screen shot 2017-01-16 at 2.30.35 PMVIBE Arts has been helping children and youth transform their lunchrooms over the years to encourage healthy and active lifestyles. VIBE’s lunchroom transformations are exciting projects where kids are engaged in planning, designing and producing a mural for their school or community agency. Artistic expression is central to this project. Our Lunchroom Transformation project at Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School had the students exploring the theme of wellness using their own diverse cultural experiences as inspiration. Lead arts educator, Sandra Tarantino, and artist assistants Camelle Davidson and Rowell Soller encouraged the grade 5, 6, 7, and 8 students to look outside the windows and draw what they see in their community in relation to health and wellness, to generate the mural’s messages and imagery. The finished artwork beautifully captures the diversity of understandings and interpretations of the children on the theme of wellness.

A correction has been made: We apologize that we misreported in our January Newsletter that did not identify Sandra Tarantino as the lead artist for the Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School mural project. We really appreciate the work Sandra does at VIBE Arts, and we are always deeply impressed by her work in the community and her art practice that you can see here.


Saje, Loblaws, and B.Good are generously supporting the Parkdale School  Lunchroom Transformation project.

Thank you to our generous supporters:

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asj 2017-sa-jg-6

Our most recent Arts for Social Justice (ASJ) residency took place at a Salvation Army Thrift Store (Bloor & Lansdowne) this January. Emerging artist Jade Greaves ran the ‘Choosing Sustainable Sources’ project to encourage critical thinking and conscientious purchasing through a social justice lens. Jade created a textile installation to symbolize the many ways a piece of clothing can be repurposed/reimagined. She invited viewers to unfold the layers of her artwork and guided their involvement. Visitors were curious, had many questions and shared experiences with the artist. Jade shared that, “the overall experience was great and the community members gave [my] work such warm interest”. This residency is part of the ASJ project, which includes high school workshops and the development of resources combining the arts and social justice education for teachers and art educators.


Thank you to our generous supporters:

Ontario Trillium Foundation

Platform A Announces the Recipients of 2017 Micro-Grants


Platform A: Tamara Haberman | tamara@artstarts.net | 416-656-9994

Toronto Arts Council: Susan Wright | susan@torontoartscouncil.org | 416 392 6802 x 211

Platform A Announces the Recipients of 2017 Micro-Grants

January 31, 2017

TORONTOPlatform A partner organizations Art Starts, Jumblies Theatre, VIBE Arts, SKETCH and CUE are pleased to announce the recipients of a new cycle of arts grants made possible by the Toronto Arts Council. This initiative has, for the last three years, put project funding into the hands of underrepresented, marginalized, and newcomer artists and collectives to develop new projects.

This cycle saw 150 funding submissions to Platform A partner organizations. The successful 69 grant recipients will be working on a diverse range of projects in multiple disciplines such as the creation of a bicycle-powered potter’s wheel, a “living documentary” engaging youth from North York on issues of sustainable infrastructure, a fashion line representing LGBTQIA+ African diaspora, and a series of paintings depicting how migrant workers are mistreated and exploited by employers and the government. In total, over $60,000 in project funds were disseminated.

These grants are significant in that they represent support for artists who have been historically excluded from conventional arts institutions, and who have faced systemic barriers to accessing funding for their work. Platform A provides high-access systems for these artists to apply for funding, along with intensive mentorship throughout the process of developing proposals, producing projects, and connecting with future opportunities after grant period.

“We are happy to be in a position to increase access to arts funding for newcomer and community-based artists through the Platform A initiative,” says Claire Hopkinson, Director and CEO of the Toronto Arts Council. “We extend our warmest congratulations to each of the recipients.”

A list of artists supported by each Platform A partner organization is available on their respective websites.

About Partner Organizations:

Art Starts

Art Starts is an award-winning charitable, not-for-profit organization that uses the arts as a vehicle to encourage social change in Toronto’s underserved neighbourhoods. Bringing professional artists and communities together to work across all artistic disciplines, Art Starts combines the best practices of hands-on community consultation with a collaborative art-making approach and sound organizational and administrative support.


Jumblies Theatre
In operation for over ten years, Jumblies is an inclusive and community-focused theatre company offering multi-year residencies, studio training, mentorships, and innovative collaborative projects.  Jumblies is an award-winning organization increasingly cited as a pioneering and inspirational example of art that embraces and intertwines aesthetics with social engagement.



SKETCH is a nationally recognized, award-winning community arts enterprise based in Toronto engaging young people living homeless and on the margins, ages 16-29, coming from across Canada.  SKETCH creates equitable opportunities for diverse young people to experience the transformative power of the arts, build leadership in the arts and cultivate environmental and social change through the arts.


A collaborative partner of SKETCH, CUE is a radical arts initiative dedicated to supporting new generation artists who live and work on the margins. Since 2008, CUE has disseminated over $280,000 to support the creation of more than 290 art projects.



VIBE Arts is an award-winning organization whose mandate is to engage young people living in priority neighbourhoods in high-quality, accessible arts educational programs that are meaningful, relevant and collaboratively developed with community and education partners. VIBE Arts positions arts programs in schools and neighbourhood venues as a means of building community, and empowering marginalized children and youth to reach their full potential as artists and social contributors.


Toronto Arts Council

In 2016 Toronto Arts Council reviewed over 2350 applications and awarded grants totaling $18 million to just under 1000 individual artists and organizations.

Junior League Peer-to-Peer Workshop

By: Alannah Johnson

15078624_1204879532891308_5018369093598402980_nNovember was an exciting time in the VIBE office as we held peer-to-peer workshops facilitated by members of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC) throughout the month. Shashann Miguel-Tash held a visual arts workshop on Sunday November 13th for emerging artists and engaged us with a lesson on how colours evoke emotions within our audience. The youth spent the afternoon painting and getting the opportunity to learn more about fellow emerging artists on our roster!

The following Tuesday, November 15th, YAC co-chair Fitzroy Facey, shared his inspiring artist testimony and spoke with the youth about his journey from childhood to his now exciting Photography career. Following his testimony, the emerging artists were asked to map their artist journey in a workshop to reflect upon early beginnings and where they are heading! Mentorship Coordinator, Rachael Edge reminded artists to think about their “ Northern Star” and what’s guiding them. VIBE hopes to carry out more fun and engaging peer-to-peer workshops in the near future.