Funded by ArtReach for a second time in 2018, Soundcheck Youth Arts is a youth-led not-for-profit organization stationed within the Weston-Mount Dennis community that empowers underserved youth through music and mentorship programs. Their name, SoundCheck, captures the essence of their vision, while their objective is to musically develop youth while empowering them as leaders in their communities.
Soundcheck was first funded by ArtReach in 2014 to run Play our Sound, an education project catered towards beginner to intermediate level musical instruction, and offering mentorship programs.
In 2018, Soundcheck took their project even further with Play our Sound Too, a one-year musical instruction and mentorship program with a unique focus on music recording for racialized youth ages 15-29 in the Weston-Mount Dennis community. Running from January to December 2019, the project expanded Soundcheck’s reach by providing musical recording and performance opportunities for participants. Soundcheck also provided mentorship sessions with a focus on building the skills, confidence and resilience of the youth they serve. The goal of the program was met, with youth graduating with the resources and skills needed to excel as artists and leaders in their community.
SoundCheck is the first for-youth-by-youth musician’s incubator, having a majority youth-led decision making team. Joel Reid, Soundcheck’s Executive Director, is a seasoned community engager with over ten years of experience working in the community development sector, while Soundcheck’s co-founder and project administrator Cheyanne Reid is a singer, song-writer and worship leader with a strong passion for community work and excellence in the arts. Joel’s history working in the community and Cheyanne’s musical skill sets ensure that Soundcheck has two strong leads that support people through the power of music. They also have three musical mentors as part of the program, all with several years of valuable experience in musical education and community work.
When asked why Soundcheck chose to focus on the Weston-Mount Dennis community, Cheyenne shares, “We chose this crucial location because we are black youth from this neighbourhood who share experiences of racism, structural injustice, systemic failure and marginalization, and wanted to support other youth who face the same barriers by providing a safe and positive way to gather”. Soundcheck states that “it’s not just about free music lessons and free musical instruments- our goal is to build strong healthy relationships amongst youth and remove barriers by providing accessible, high-quality music programs”
Commencing their third year of operations, SoundCheck has worked with valued partners The Ontario Trillium Foundation, The City of Toronto, ArtReach, Long & McQuade, and Steve’s Music to successfully implement these free high-quality music programs for the youth in the community.
Soundcheck has reached hundreds of racialized youth through their music-mentorship programs while providing meaningful, paid performance opportunities. Soundcheck hopes to build on this successful infrastructure in order to reach more youth with future projects. You can learn more about Soundcheck at their website, and you can follow them on Instagram @soundcheckyouth to stay up-to-date on their latest programs.