ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with City of Toronto Culture, awarded 3 prizes of $3,000 each to groups of youth involved in community-based arts projects. The event was part of the Ignite: Youth Arts Forum, held at the Gladstone Hotel on June 12 and 13. A series of young artists made high-energy pitches in front of a panel of celebrity judges, including Canadian Idol’s Farley Flex, and ArtReach grant review team members Sarah DeCarlo, Michael Murray and Nawa Nicole Simon.
The winners of the pitch contest were recognized for their creative and inspiring proposals to develop community arts projects in their neighbourhoods. Each of the winners pitched their own unique projects. Phase 1 Step Team is an all female step dance group based in Scarborough, Travis Blackman is an individual artist creating a book for youth that spreads a message of positivity, and Manifesto is a festival bringing together youth involved in urban arts form from across the city.
According to Che Kothari: "Manifesto was thrilled by the opportunity of being a part of the ArtReach pitch contest, and we were extremely honoured to be chosen as a recipient from all of the amazing groups that presented. We have already put a portion of the funds into a fundraising event for Alexandra Park Community Centre in June and the remaining money will be used towards another fun day in Alexandra Park promoting homegrown music and arts talent during our 4-day festival taking place September 20th-23rd. We really hope that more pitch contest like this can take place- this is where creative ideas and projects can come to life, where groups can expose themselves to a wide and attentive audience, where people in the audience can get inspired to start up their own initiatives, and where motivated groups and individuals can get the financial support to help see their projects come to fruition....and it's all in good fun! From everyone involved with Manifesto, BIG UP ARTREACH, it's a blessing for the city to have you."
The panel of judges selected the three winners from a short-list of eight, all of whom had five minutes on stage to make a creative and dynamic arts performance for the judges. The winners each received $3,000 to develop their ideas into arts programs in their neighbourhoods that will engage community members in the process and the project.
“The arts are a powerful and motivating way that youth are involved in their communities," says Farley Flex, one of the judges on the pitch contest panel. "Whether it's in someone's basement, or through a community program, young people are creating art all over this city. We want to discover and support some of Toronto's finest artistic talent and encourage community participation through the arts."
The pitch contest is part of ArtReach Toronto’s and the City of Toronto Culture’s commitment to support the meaningful engagement of Toronto youth, who have experienced exclusion, through active participation in quality arts opportunities.
The lucky winners included: Phase1 Step Team, Travis A. Blackman, and Manifesto.