Signature and SPARK Projects collectively enable new, emerging or established local arts and community-based organizations to partner with the City of Toronto to celebrate arts, culture and community in spaces outside the core. These projects are free to both participants and the public, aim to promote and grow community arts and provide new opportunities to engage equity-deserving residents in the arts and celebrate local creativity and culture through workshops, activities, events and other initiatives.

By connecting and investing in Toronto’s diverse outside-the-core neighbourhoods, Cultural Hotspot shines a spotlight on East York/East End, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York with community-based public art projects running until December. View the Cultural Hotspot calendar for a list of upcoming events.

Common Ground Dance Festival

The inaugural Common Ground Dance Festival celebrates movement and community in North York’s Lee Lifeson Art Park. Events include accessible workshops that focus on creative improvisational movement, site-specific performances in response to the park’s sculptures and a community co-creation experiment.

Lead partner: Toes for Dance

Corner Commons Artist Residencies

Building on the success of their first artist residencies in 2020, Corner Commons is hosting two-month-long artist residencies from July to September 2021. Corner Commons is a community-led project that will transform a parking lot in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood into an inviting temporary public space for local community members. The project is coordinated by the Jane/Finch Centre and supported by a community working group.

Lead partner: Jane/Finch Centre and Corner Commons

Deaf Interiors*

Deaf Interiors is a multidisciplinary online exhibition presenting six Deaf artists whose featured work is the culmination of a three-month online incubator. In response to the world health crisis and to social distancing measures that exacerbate feelings of isolation, artists gathered online with facilitators Peter Owusu-Ansah and Sage Lovell to share stories, generate ideas and create work that demonstrates the interior world of Deaf culture, activism and human connection.

Lead partners: Tangled Art and Disability and Creative Users Projects

In Our Nature

Mural Routes, the Community Arts Guild, the E.W.o.C. Project (Equity for Women of Colour), and the Toronto Zoo have partnered to deliver a multidisciplinary public art project that celebrates Women of Colour in the Scarborough community.

Lead partner: Mural Routes


Intersections is a 10-week Scarborough-based youth mentorship photography program and public art series developed by photographer Anthony Gebrehiwot and Scarborough Arts that will explore the ways in which our regional and geographical locations interact and intertwine with our social memory.

Lead partners: Anthony Gebrehiwot and Scarborough Arts

Local Discoveries

Local Discoveries focuses on animating public art destinations and encouraging Torontonians to explore their neighbourhood. The project will highlight local businesses and restaurants alongside public art tours and cultural experience, with each Local Arts Service Organization providing unique community engagements and learning opportunities about existing public artworks, talks, workshops, tours and performances.

Lead partners: Arts Etobicoke, East End Arts, Lakeshore Arts, North York Arts, Scarborough Arts, Urban Arts

Safe Flight Home*

A community-based public art project with nearly 50 online workshop participants that explored art techniques, local migratory birds and how best to protect them which will lead to the co-creation of murals in several public-facing windows in 2021.

Lead partner: STEPS Initiative

Scarborough Made Resilience

Documenting underrepresented narratives of humanity in Scarborough through photography and cinematography, this project explores themes around culture, community and resilience with the hope to develop a deeper understanding of the collective strength that we all share.

Lead partner: Scarborough Made

The Heart of the Nest

Highlighting the migrant nature of birds, newcomers and immigrants in the Eatonville and Rexdale neighbourhoods will create a series of birdhouse sculptures that will be displayed on individual residential properties and in public space, creating a community-engaged approach to public art.

Lead partner: VIBE Arts


*Denotes 2020 funding cycle projects that have carried into 2021

360 Stories

360 Stories is a creative writing program for young students in Scarborough with a focus on telling stories inspired by streetscapes of the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park neighbourhood with characters and stories created by the children who live there, inviting the greater community to see their surroundings anew, and their everyday environment as a place of inspiration and imagination.

Lead partner: The Reading Partnership


3Tempests is an original adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” that weaves in real stories of Hurricane Hazel with those of local seniors who have experienced increased isolation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Shakespeare in Action is proud to animate Weston’s Little Avenue Memorial Park for a third consecutive year, in a show that explores isolation, resilience, and the power of human connection.

Lead partner: Shakespeare in Action

Beyond the Screen*

An expressive arts and leadership program for newcomer youth that provides home-delivered art kits to take part in online workshops. Running until May 2021, programming also supports participants to manage their mental health and wellbeing and foster supportive online connections.

Lead partner: North York Community House

Butterflies in Flight*

Seniors living in long-term care work with Baycrest’s Creative Arts staff to paint hand-built ceramic butterflies and explore the theme of transition. The completed project will be displayed in one of the facility’s outdoor spaces and features an unveiling ceremony.

Lead partner: Baycrest Health Sciences

Community Memories: Etobicoke-Lakeshore

A series of in-person workshops aimed at connecting local seniors in South Etobicoke in hopes of sharing memories and stories from their personal history in the region. Participants will learn art skills to share visual representations of their memories, culminating in a final public exhibition.

Lead partners: Sharon Kawabata and Arts Etobicoke

Community Stories Printmaking

A printmaking series of eight free workshops in Weston/Mount Dennis neighbourhood, where stories will be shared to inspire block printmaking on fabric flags. A final exhibition celebrating the stories and flags will be held in partnership with UrbanArts.

Lead partner: Catherine Moeller and UrbanArts

Faces of Frontlines

A six-week art workshop series culminating in a mural by Frontline’s Leaders in Training youth program that reflects the diversity of the faces of Frontlines. Participants will work with professional mural artists to develop, design and create a piece that shines a light on their community members.

Lead partner: Weston Frontlines

GP Cultural Engagement Experience

Through facilitated workshops, select Girl Power’d youth alumni will create an expression of African dance, which will be performed at The Circle of Trees public art piece installed in Woodbine Park as part of the GP Cultural Engagement Experience.

Lead partner: Girl Power’d

Here I Am: PhotoVoice Project

A photography workshop, offered in partnership with Arts Etobicoke, for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities. The project invites participants and a family member to collaborate on developing imagery that explores the themes of identity, family and community as it relates to living with a disability.

Lead partner: Project Kids and Cameras and Arts Etobicoke


iFEED (Find the Energy Every Day) is a participatory visual arts project that invites community members to reflect on their own experiences in building resiliency during the pandemic. Community members will share sources of inspiration and wisdom.

Lead partner: Healthy Living through Arts

Luminous Garden: Ties to the Community

Multi-generational newcomers and equity-deserving members of York West and Davenport, in a series of workshops, aim to create medium format lanterns, culminating in a public art installation of over 30 lanterns in Earlscourt Park on the first weekend of October 2021.

Lead partner: Muse Arts

Meet Me, North York – 360 Virtual Reality*

North York residents came together to explore their creativity and lived experiences in this collaborative storytelling project and produced two 360 virtual reality narratives. Join us online this spring/summer to watch the two videos.

Lead partner: Kwame-Newman Bremang and Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators

Mobile in the Sky

An intergenerational public art project that focuses on the creation and decoration of kites by Etobicoke residents through two virtual kite building workshops, leading to a kite flying public art event and public art kite installation, both at Neilson Park Creative Centre.

Lead partner: Neilson Park Creative Centre

Neighbourhood Love Window Murals

Neighbourhood Love Window Murals is a series of virtual workshops where participants will be provided instructions on basic mural techniques. The focus of the project is on strengthening connections with the community through creative expression, with the goal of an increased feeling of connection during a time of isolation

Lead partner: Neighbourhood Love

Oakwood Village Roots & Routes Discovery Trail

An installation of sidewalk paintings and window installations by Muse Arts that take us on a journey of playful discovery. Using the theme Roots and Routes, we are acknowledging the environment and the contributions of many communities and people to the neighbourhood we have today.

Lead partner: Oakwood Village BIA and Muse Arts

Old Mother Tongue*

Old Mother Tongue is a short film with a Deaf cast that explores cultural identity in modern-day Deaf society, making connections to periods in Deaf history that have strong cultural relevance today. Through the story of a Deaf businessman torn between his identities in hearing and Deaf worlds, filmmaker Mark Trifunovic seeks to show how language and culture are forces that can connect communities across generations, and how they are preserved through storytelling.

Lead partner: C-A-Mcorder Productions

Poetry inPrint: In the Streets

Partnering with local author Jacqueline Valencia, Toronto-based emerging poets will workshop together to creat five succinct short poems that reflect critically on the concept of safety from an anti-oppressive framework. Printmakers of the inPrint Collective will take to the streets at night to silkscreen the sidewalks of Etobicoke with these words using inks that allow the words to be seen at dusk.

Lead partner: The inPrint Collective

Sidewalk Artwork for GreekTown on the Danforth BIA

A month-long project done in collaboration with MUSE Arts, culminating in a series of semi-permanent sidewalk art pieces depicting figures of the twelve Olympians from Greek mythology in GreekTown on the Danforth BIA!

Lead partner: GreekTown on the Danforth BIA

Song & Story Series

The Song and Story Series festival will take place in Guild Park and Gardens. Featuring afternoon workshops and evening performances as a celebration of local performing arts and the strength of Scarborough’s community spirit. Every day will highlight a different kind of performance, including music, theatre and storytelling.

Lead partner: Guild Festival Theatre

Story Stick Project

A simple yet powerful project for youth in Scarborough and East York to mindfully wrap colourful yarn and string around sticks that become an organic emotional processing tool. Sticks created will then form a collaboratively created public art piece.

Lead partner: Pamela Schuller and East End Arts

The Art of Us*

This partnership project provides North York Women’s Shelter residents with the opportunity to safely interact and paint their own mugs, create with clay and work with glass. Projects in clay included sculpting and creating pinch pots.

Lead partner: North York Visual Artists

TSFF Smartphone Filmmaking Workshop

Youth ages 18 to 29 will learn how to utilize a smartphone to create short films while exploring Toronto’s public art. One scene featuring public art will be included in their film. Films will be screened at an outdoor public exhibition.

Lead partner: Toronto Smartphone Film Festival

Women in Song 2021 Series

FabCollab presents the Women in Song Concert series, a celebration of female-identifying Canadian artists from diverse backgrounds. The events will be a series of live shows streamed online from two different outside-the-core venues.

Lead partner: FabCollab


*Denotes 2020 funding cycle projects that have carried into 2021