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2020 Grantee Profile: Project 40 Collective

Funded in 2019 and 2020, Project 40 Collective’s project, Diasporasian Futures was a radical artist incubator that aimed to create artistic opportunities for the pan-Asian arts community in the GTA.

Diasporasian Futures 2

Their 2020 funded project, DF 2 (Diasporasian Futures 2), offered two streams for artists: The Artmaking stream covered projects in photography, painting, performance arts, and more, where participants gained valuable experience through key aspects of residency and arts education such as collaboration, studio practice and exhibitions. The Spacemaking stream developed community responses and projects that included public surveys and creative responses while going through intensive sessions on structure building, funding methods, and practicing principles of equity, care, and critical reflection.

Diasporasian Futures 2 was designed to allow youth to immediately apply their learned skills to programming projects by using a variety of learning methods and practical ways of enhancing their skills. Participants were able to work with two program managers, a graphic designer, and youth staff members in order to properly build their program experience and create their final projects. The incubator culminated in an exhibition featuring the work of participants, and allowed them to apply their learning and

creative explorations tangibly toward a showcase event.

Community Impact

Project 40 Collective believes in equipping and building up people with “abundance, joy, and tender strength” through their community arts programs. When discussing how they build their programs, P40 explains, “We build programs that draw on experiences we’ve had as a collective, to share knowledge, skills and networks openly with other folk who are interested in working as art-makers or space-makers. We hope to protect and nurture the dreams of our communities”.

Disaporasian Futures 2 was created from the need for more opportunities for the Pan-Asian community to work together, building solidarity in their art practices and community arts organizing while gaining professional training regardless of socio-economic status. This project was offered to applicants who did not go to school for the arts or arts management in order to remove barriers people may have faced in the past, and allow them to explore creative possibilities, build skills, and nurture relationships despite their experience level.

The one-on-one sessions created long-lasting relationships with participants, many who later reached out to guest facilitators to continue meaningful conversations and pursue new ideas. When referencing the strength of the incubator, Project 40 Collective explains

“It was a great space for people to experiment with ideas, test pilot

programming, explore new forms, and

even eliminate options. Many participants

took the time to evaluate options in a safe

and supportive program space”

COVID considerations

Due to COVID restrictions, Project 40 Collective had to make the call to go digital. When discussing this decision, P40 explains, “This changed the structure of our program drastically in that the energy of our sessions were now adapting to digital screen spaces. Artists had to adjust their use of the studio and there was limited public engagement”. The Collective used many shared digital spaces, such as Element and Jitsi, to connect with participants and decreased the lengths of sessions to accommodate the different ways people experience time in digital space. Final presentations took advantage of the digital incubator by using Instagram Live to do community surveys and Instagram posts to share and present work, making their efforts accessible to the social media world.

The final evaluation session provided great feedback and honest commentary from participants on the difficulties of navigating digital sessions. P40 felt “proud that participants enjoyed themselves and glad that we created a space where they could build relationships with us and yield great conversations”. Participants were able to complete their final Artmaker projects and present them online, showcasing their skills and talents.

Meet Project 40 Collective

Project 40 Collective is a pan-Asian, interdisciplinary artist collective incubating and producing interdisciplinary collaborative projects by emerging Asian-Canadian creatives. They feature artists working in mediums such as literature, visual arts, fashion, music, film, and performance art.

Founders Jasmine Gui and Abby Ho began by wanting to collaborate on art together, which grew into a thriving ecosystem of makers and creators who learn and unlearn, organize and disrupt, and live creatively together. Project 40 Collective has published magazines, curated live performances, produced collaborative projects, organized communal-social gatherings and launched low-cost creative workshops. They’ve also explored the crafts community and developed community partnerships with other art collectives, further expanding their reach.

While a highly successful and much needed collective, as of Summer 2021, The Project 40 Collective has officially wrapped, and will not be providing further programming or Loose Leaf Magazine issues. We can’t thank them enough for their years of incredible work and the meaningful impact they’ve had on Toronto’s community arts sector, and wish them all the best on their future endeavours.


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