Art Ignite develops the visual arts skills of low income, racialized, or newcomer youth aged 15-19 living in the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park communities through programs led by professional youth artists Tasneem Dairywala, Akshata Naik and Shehrbano Akhtar. Their 2019 ArtReach-funded project, Youth Ignite, uses visual arts-based tools and one-on-one demonstrations to build participants' skills in various drawing and paint media. The program is designed to mentor youth participants, so they can develop and implement their own workshops post-program.
Founder and Executive Director Tasneem Dairywala, a local artist from Thorncliffe Park and a two-time ArtReach grantee, explains that they chose to focus on the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park communities “due to the increase in newcomers who have few opportunities for artistic growth”. She further explains that Art Ignite “aims to transform community spaces into creative hubs, where residents can unleash their imaginations, connect with their community, gain valuable skills, and become leaders of change”.
Youth Ignite aims to develop creative knowledge and range for self-expression by educating youth on various art mediums. Through these workshops, participants also developed interpersonal skills, and confidence which will extend beyond the program and into their professional careers and further education. Since 2017, Art Ignite has engaged over 500 residents, held over 200 workshop sessions, and hosted 10 exhibitions. Past workshops have focused on watercolours, glass painting, acrylic painting, and clay art.
For this iteration of their project, they began in-person programming in Fall 2019 at the Flemingdon Health Centre. However when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in Spring 2020, they creatively shifted to a virtual space. Their new virtual programs covered topics from art and self-care workshops, and included two public YouTube series’ for youth participants to access. The series’ included Journaling Ideas with Jothi Saldanha, and Character Design and Cartooning Tutorials with Huzaifa Mohammed Bhai.
Mission and Values
Art Ignite’s values of openness, harmony, wonder, connectedness, and growth ensure that the Youth Ignite program will positively affect youth. Tasneem shares, “The main feedback I got from participants [of Youth Ignite] was that they finally felt like they had space to just have fun with art while exploring a lot of different materials and meeting new people”.
True to their values, Art Ignite is proud to offer workshops that are accessible to a diverse community, and are free of any socio-economic barriers. They raise public awareness and understanding of youth stereotyping by showcasing youth talent through exhibitions, which bring together residents, community partners, and other like-minded groups to recognize the vast talents of the youth in their community.
Tasneem Dairywala, Art Ignite’s Founder and Executive Director, is an award-winning contemporary visual artist and educator. She holds a BFA from OCAD University and has nearly ten years of experience in arts programming. She is a firm believer that art has the power to overcome the ethnocultural boundaries that divide us, which led to her creating Art Ignite. Tasneem grew up in Flemingdon Park and has a decade of experience working in that community. Sharing art with her community “inspires her own artwork, and helps her fulfill her goal of making her neighbourhood a friendlier and warmer space”.
Art Ignite continues to offer virtual programs to create safe spaces for individuals to form social bonds and build artists skills. Follow @artignite to stay updated on their latest workshops and programs.