Funded by ArtReach for a second time in 2018, Wave Art Collective is a youth-led, Scarborough-based grassroots collective that provides arts mentorship and teaches youth from Malvern valuable skills in digital media, photography, and music production. The Collective was first funded by ArtReach in 2016, running their initial iteration of the Wave Runners Program (WRP), then called YOU for YOUth.
Through 2018/ 2019, the Collective ran Phase 2 of their Wave Runners Program, an arts entrepreneurship initiative for minority youth aged 15-24 in the Malvern community of Scarborough. The aim of this project is to give young people exposure to both the digital media and entrepreneurial skills required to create social media content as a means to build confidence, express creativity, and gain the often neglected business skills that are relevant in today’s technology-driven society. The project involved weekly sessions that featured entrepreneurial education, workshops from industry professionals, experiential film, photo, and audio training, and internship opportunities. The program culminated in a show hosted in collaboration with Scarborough Arts that drew 150 attendees.
Understanding the importance of a well-rounded program, the Collective shares that, “in addition to teaching the artistic skills, we placed an importance on entrepreneurial skills to help sustain an artistic career. Specifically, we had multiple workshops centered around grant writing. These covered topics such as artist bios, writing a description of the proposed work, creating a budget and workplan, and creating an artistic treatment. We also did pitch sessions where youth participants presented their projects to a panel of artists from the community, working on their presentation skills”. They also used this program to offer networking opportunities, providing a range of artist mentors for participants to connect with, effectively building out their professional networks in Toronto.
In describing why the Collective runs the WRP, they share, “at the end of the day, we see ourselves in a lot of the youth growing up in the area, and we understand how easy it is to fall through the cracks without the proper mentorship. Ultimately, it is because of these experiences that we feel so passionate about WRP – it is an avenue for youth in Scarborough to be creative, understood, and self-motivated. The truth is, we are die-hard Scarborough fans, and this is our way of changing the community we live in!”
Reflecting on their development since the first funded project, they note, “given that this is our second time running this program, we are proud of the growth that we have shown. We feel very confident with our curriculum now, and we are seeing very real results in terms of growth of our participants. We have a great balance of experiential workshops, didactic learning, and homework assignments”.
To date, the Collective has received grants from funders like CUE, LIFT, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council for their artistic work, and continue to make videos for a diverse range of businesses across Toronto, having completed works for companies like Sunnybrook Hospital and Chronic Ink Tattoos. With a solidified program curriculum, a diverse community and professional network, and a demonstrable impact their programming has had on participants, we have no doubt that this collective will only continue to grow in their success. Follow their work on Instagram here: instagram.com/waveartcollective/