Formed in 2014, Dream House Collective is an initiative led by a group of Toronto creatives that aims to create a community for visual artists, music producers, performers, dancers, designers, and new media artists. Their mission is to highlight the work of youth artists in the Toronto community by creating arts events that amplify their work, raise their profile, and connect them to fellow artists, well-recognized personalities, and greater opportunities to publicly present their work. "We’re designing a space that fosters deeper connections and networking, and also allows young people to be acquainted with local talent from their own city. We want them to see themselves reflected in the arts and music, which reaffirms that they belong in the cultural arts environment".
In 2014, the Collective received their first grant- $10,000 from ArtReach to support their program, “Dream House Arts Event Planning”. The project saw the curation of multiple music, fashion, and arts events, using the events as training opportunities for youth to develop skills in arts event production and management. Mentors involved in the program provided training in curation, stage setup/ design, prop design, live sound setup, and more.
A key component of the Collective’s focus is supporting the development of artists’ entrepreneurial skills, ensuring they have the expertise and skills to build a successful career in the arts. Their programming seeks to provide youth with the knowledge needed to implement and transform their artistic work through entrepreneurial business strategies. They note that this will prepare youth for artists’ careers, and provide them with the necessary qualifications for a future career in the arts world.
In 2018, they were funded by ArtReach to run, “Build a Dream”, a program supporting the professional development and training of marginalized artists aged 18-29 towards the creation and execution of their annual Music + Arts Festival. From April to November 2019, youth participated in an intensive training program that focused on in-studio music production, including vocal training and songwriting proficiency. Youth participants were also mentored in the various elements of event coordination, including artist and venue booking coordination, contract writing, event communications, set design, stage management, marketing, and branding. In November 2019, the program culminated in Dream House’s 6th annual music and film festival, Speak Your Peace, held at the B-Side Lounge and Carlton Theatre, and attended by over 200 audience members.
When asked about the artistic skills participants developed through the project, they share, “Our emerging artists got to work with established artists in learning how to utilize studio time efficiently. Some of these artists had never been to a professional recording studio, and they accomplished artist milestones by recording their first projects and songs. Other artists had never preformed and needed a push of confidence to be on a main stage. Artists got more confident with each show, and as the crowds got bigger, personalities and personas on stage got more entertaining. Through the project, artists have been able to perform across the City and grow their Instagram and Spotify following as well”.
So what’s next for the Dream House Collective? Moving forward, they hope to secure their own space and provide consistent programming for youth emerging artists in Toronto. Follow them on Instagram at @DreamHouseCollective and Facebook @DreamHouseTO