To help foreign-trained professional artists pursue their careers in Toronto, Lesmill Employment & Social Services launched the Art Connections pilot program. Participants were placed in a customized Toronto School of Art professional studio program where they learned how to market their art practice and apply to galleries, exhibitions and competitions. Staff helped participants create job search tools such as biographies and portfolios, and connected them to art organizations and financial supports.

The City worked in collaboration with the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Neighbourhood Arts Network, Toronto School of Art and various community art organizations to provide participants with direct access to professional networks and career opportunities. Participants also had the opportunity to showcase their work at the Art Connections Fine Art Exhibit & Sale, which for some was the first time showing their work in Canada.

The Art Connections pilot program has been a success. Some examples of the outcomes achieved by participants include:

  • access to art grants
  • acceptance into various exhibitions
  • acceptance into art and business school programs
  • selected for an illustrator position with a City division through the Job Incentive Program
  • acceptance into Culture Days programming
  • acceptance into the Toronto Pubic Library’s 2018 exhibition line-up