Summary of organization/program
Arts for Children and Youth’s (AFCY) mandate is to engage young people living in priority neighbourhoods in high quality and accessible arts educational programs that are meaningful, relevant and collaboratively developed with community and education partners. AFCY positions arts programs in schools and neighbourhood venues as a means of building community, and empowering marginalized children and youth to reach their full potential as artists and social contributors.
- They primarily serve children and youth in both the public school system and in the community through community-based programs. (ages 3 – 24)
- Established in: 1995
It all started back in 1995, when Lola Rasminsky, one of Toronto’s most energetic advocates for arts education, decided that no child should be deprived of the creative acumen that comes with early exposure to quality hands-on arts experiences simply because of financial circumstance. In order to respond to the critical reduction in arts education in the public educational system, and to remedy what she saw as a gap between rich and poor, she founded a charitable organization whose mandate was to offer scholarships to under-resourced children in the GTA, so that they could benefit from the same high quality arts instruction enjoyed by their more well-to-do counterparts. That organization was called Arts for Children of Toronto.
As the years passed, the little organization grew and grew. It grew in stature, and it gained wisdom as it matured. More than 850 children received arts scholarships through AFC. By 2002, Lola had come to the realization that, by taking the arts instruction into public schools, many more children could share in these experiences. Thus, our Outreach Program was born, and it has continued to grow, now reaching upwards of 8,000 young people each year, and extending into the community with many after-school programs and summer youth employment initiatives. We no longer offer scholarships, having decided to focus on outreach, taking the programs directly to the young people in their schools and communities.
Our increasing involvement with older kids prompted a name change in 2008, and we are now known as Arts for Children and Youth (AFCY). We have established a Youth Advisory Council, made up of youth who live in the communities we work with, many of them past program participants. These youth are integral to our program planning process; they are our eyes into the world of their peers. They advise us as to what excites young people today, and they create the aesthetic that defines our organization.
Inasmuch as possible, our programs are youth led. We see our artists as facilitators rather than instructors. Each program is custom-made to fit the community’s wants and needs. We have also worked very hard to link our school and community programs, so that a young participant might experience arts-based learning in both a formal and an informal setting.
As for recent history, Julie Frost, who has acted as our Artistic Director since the turn of the century, stepped up to take Lola’s place as Executive Director in September 2009. Julie continues to act as Artistic Director as well, ensuring that her artistic vision melds with the organization’s strategic positioning. As we approach our 15th year, it feels as though we are coming of age. With the help of our many partners and donors, we feel that we can truly make a difference in the lives of marginalized young people, giving them the hopefulness that any young person deserves to feel as they venture into adulthood.
Dominant Media Forms
multi media presentations
- Our mission is to ally with high priority communities and empower marginalized children and youth by engaging them in hands-on, community- and school-based arts education programs that respect existing cultural and community activity, resulting in participatory action and social awareness.
- Arts for Children and Youth’s (AFCY) mandate is to engage young people living in priority neighbourhoods in high quality and accessible arts educational programs that are meaningful, relevant and collaboratively developed with community and education partners. AFCY positions arts programs in schools and neighbourhood venues as a means of building community, and empowering marginalized children and youth to reach their full potential as artists and social contributors.
Our goals are focused on:
- Engaging marginalized youth in unique arts programs that develop both artistic and personal skills;
- Providing meaningful mentorship opportunities that could lead youth to finding gainful employment; and,
- Providing children and youth with a venue to develop a stake in their own community.
Statement of Principles
AFCY believes that direct participation in the arts provides young people with numerous benefits. Through community and school based arts engagement, children and youth can self-express, develop skills, learn new ways of seeing and doing, and establish new connections with society and with the self. AFCY’s programs are grounded in excellence, skills development, hands-on arts-based learning, mentorship, self-expression, collaboration, inclusiveness and social awareness. AFCY fully recognizes the importance and involvement of young people as program supporters and designers, along with other key community and education partners.
Samples of work
Each year AFCY offers almost 200 outreach programs to children and youth in Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods. To date, we’ve provided over 40,000 young people from culturally diverse, low-income areas in Toronto with high-quality, innovative arts experiences in visual arts, dance, drama,music, dub poetry, video/film-making, and photography.
Rather than having the participants travel to our offices, AFCY brings programs directly into the communities via collaborative partnerships with local service agencies, the education system and cultural industries. Today, we reach approximately 8,000 children and youth every year through 97 diverse venues including inner-city schools, community centres, shelters, churches, libraries, hospitals and Toronto Community Housing buildings.
AFCY also offers Professional Development programs for those who work with children and youth.
- SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PROGRAM DETAILS
- High quality hands-on workshops conducted by professional artists in Dance, Drama, Dub Poetry, Environmental Art, Film-Making/Video, Integrated Arts, Photography and Visual Arts.
- A choice of half-day, full-day and multiple-day workshops.
- Programs tailored to children only, or to children with their parent or caregiver. Workshops start at Nursery (age 3) and go through age 24.
- Coordination of your workshop including program set-up, materials, scheduling artists and site visits.
- Minimal costs (see fees section).
- A Professional Development workshop for teachers and community coordinators/educators is available for a minimal fee.
- **Eligibility to apply for workshop series:
- schools and organizations in low-income areas of the Greater Toronto Area, who have limited arts programming for children, and not-for-profit organizations that service children and youth with financial, social and language barriers.
J.P. Bickell Foundation
John & Ruth Crow
Edith A. Hall Friedheim
Lyndsay Green & Hank Intven
F.K. Morrow Foundation
The Delaney Family Foundation
Tides Canada Foundation
BMO Employee Charitable Foundation
Falconer Charney LLP
Audrey S. Hellyer Charitable Foundation
Hal Jackman Foundation
Kiwanis Club of Toronto Foundation
George Lunan Foundation
The Julie-Jiggs Foundation
Ann Wilson & Robert Prichard
Fireslide Productions Inc.
Valerie Hussey Family Fund
Aubrey & Koren Kassirer
Manifesto Community Projects Inc.
Mastermind Educational Toys
John McKellar Charitable Foundation
George D. Anderson
Pam & Richard Earle
Byron J Garby
N. A. Taylor Foundation
Gordon Willcocks & Ann Allan
Sandy & Gwen Mackay-Smith
Cathy Park & Andrew Bishop
Gordon & Linda Sato
Fred & Beverly Schaeffer
Paul & Alma Simonsky
Addie & Matt Weinstein
Izzie & Gloria Boxen
Dr. & Mrs. Paul Druckman
OISE/UT B.Ed. Students
United Way of Greater Toronto