Cultural Hotspot Signature and SPARK Projects highlight local artists and community organizations that celebrate art, culture and community. These projects are free and provide new opportunities for the public to participate in community arts activities, workshops and events.

This year’s Cultural Hotspot program spotlights the Golden Mile and Little Jamaica neighbourhoods, with public art and community projects running from June to October. Access a calendar of upcoming events.

All that is Golden

An initiative that brings exhibitions to local storefronts and largescale billboard displays to the Golden Mile area. Artists born, raised or working in Scarborough are selected through a call-for-proposals to create works that focus on the hidden or unapparent histories of the Golden Mile neighbourhood.

Project lead: Scarborough Arts

Block by Block Walks: Golden Mile

This project fosters community dialogue about the history and future of the Golden Mile area through interactive walking tours and an exhibition of digital monuments. Curated by local youth and presented in partnership with local businesses, these free interactive walking tours showcase storytellers, performances, art activities and food.

Project lead: Toronto Ward Museum

Design to Production

A mural training and youth mentorship project that provides arts-based skill development opportunities to youth from the Golden Mile area. Participants are provided with the tools to learn fundamental design and painting skills through workshops led by Toronto mural artists, Amir Akbari and Leyland Adams.

Project lead: Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough

Film, Arts, Music & Entertainment (F.A.M.E.)

This summer training and empowerment program helps youth from the Golden Mile community to develop technical, soft and life skills through film, music and arts. Participants develop a short film or music video about issues impacting their community. The culminating F.A.M.E. family event showcases the final works through a public screening where attendees can reflect on their community.

Project lead: Helping Neighbourhoods Implement Change

Golden Mile Food Equity Community Project

Mural Routes and Feed Scarborough present four workshops where participants learn, create, eat and grow together. These workshops combine sustainable food practices and art-making to harvest a strong sense of community and belonging, where participants collaborate with professional artists and local facilitators to paint and decorate picnic benches at select Feed Scarborough locations.

Project leads: Mural Routes and Feed Scarborough

Scarborough Made: City of Industry

Through cinematography and photography, this documentary storytelling project showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of Golden Mile business people while providing young artists with employment opportunities in the creative industries.

Project lead: Scarborough Made

Summer Arts Break at the Square

Prologue Performing Arts presents a series of family-friendly performances  at Eglinton Square Shopping Centre that celebrate different cultures in the community through interactive storytelling, dance and music.

Project lead: Prologue Arts

Paint Your Path

This project offers multi-disciplinary art-making workshops and activations, where VIBE artists and Wexford community members paint a mural on a section of the pavement path in Wexford Park.

Project lead: VIBE Arts

Vision of Inspiring & Empowering Walls in Scarborough (V.I.E.W.S.) – Golden Girls

Summer workshops where aspiring young artists design and create a community mural that celebrates the inspirational women of the Golden Mile area. The project invites the public to recognize the talents, values, stories and community spirit of local leaders.

Project lead: Next Generation Arts

Golden (Mile) Memories

This project animates public green space with a pop-up public photo exhibition curated by local youth. Led by itsneerby’s Nithursan Elamuhilan, each work features images from the Golden Mile community and archives that speak to the neighbourhood’s past, present and future.

Project leads: 8 80 Cities and itsneerby

Golden Mile Zines

A visual arts initiative that focuses on the importance of finding one’s identity within their community. This project invites youth from the Golden Mile area to collaboratively create zines and block prints that share their stories and experiences.

Project lead: Makers Collective and Healthy Living through Arts

Eastern Music Workshop for Youth

Led by vocal coach Rammah Mohammad at Golden Mile’s Arab Community Centre of Toronto (ACCT), these Summer music workshops provide youth with music lessons that help build confidence and knowledge and strengthening their connection to the community.

Project leads: Rammah Mohammad and Arab Community Centre of Toronto

Animating Little Jamaica

Art Starts animates the Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market with interactive Afro-Caribbean arts activities and performances by local artists. This public art project creates an inviting space for community members and visitors to convene, laugh, collaborate and create together.

Project leads: Art Starts and Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market

Find Your Little Jamaica

A project that brings together art-making workshops, discussions, walking tours, exhibitions and musical performances focused on the history of Little Jamaica and its importance to the cultural fabric of Toronto. Local food, textile design, music, hair and beauty establishments come to live with various art forms, pop-up performances, exhibitions and more.

Project lead: UrbanArts

Irie People

This legacy documentary film project captures the dynamic but lesser-known stories of entrepreneurs in and around Eglinton Avenue West. These stories are considered the building blocks of Little Jamaica’s cultural renaissance.

Project lead: Amexem Mu Centre

Little Jamaica Artist Production

Little Jamaica Artist Production collaborates with local organizations, businesses and residents to offer family-friendly music, dance performances and painting in an outdoor public community space. This project is presented in partnership with the Eglinton Hill BIA.

Project leads: Keele Eglinton (K.E.) Residents and Eglinton Hill BIA

The Mane Event

In partnership with D’Andra Montaque, a long-time resident of Little Jamaica, this project speaks to the importance of hair in Black culture. Intergenerational hairstyling and art workshops, presented at local businesses, culminate in community arts and storytelling sessions and a new permanent public art mural led by Curita Wright.

Project leads: STEPS Public Art and D’Andra Montaque

Yuh Deh Yah, Oakwood?

This block party-style event transforms Charles Brereton Park into a public art space with musical performances, art activations and local food vendors. Celebrate the artists and cultures of the Eglinton-West and Oakwood-Vaughan communities at this one-day event.

Project leads: Nia Centre for the Arts and Small World Music

Black Youth Music Project

Intensive music workshops for youth, led by professional musicians and artists. Participants develop skills in sound engineering, voice training, recording, instruments and the business of music. The project culminates with participants performing on the main stage at Rastafest Reggae music festival in Little Jamaica.

Project lead: Canadian Reggae Music Association

Cameras in the Community

A hands-on photography workshop series where kids explore their community as documentarians. Participants create works using iconic photography and visual storytelling techniques to produce an exhibition at Reggae Café in Eglinton-West.

Project lead: Project Kids & Cameras

Long Time Wi Nuh See Yuh

A sculptural wayfinding project that leads the public to the cultural hub of Eglinton West. Jamaican national symbols are referenced in the design of each wayfinding marker, providing opportunities for the public to learn about the culture that has helped form Little Jamaica.

Project leads: Art Starts and Kareen Weir

MASHUP PON DI ROAD

This variety show blends elements of the circus with Caribbean Carnival. Using a custom-made traveling stage, this project brings immersive shows to various neighborhoods, transforming conventional spaces and extending beyond the truck with costumed performers, giant puppets, clever songs, food/artisan stalls and moko jumbies – Trinidadian carnival stilt walkers.

Project lead: Why Not Theatre and Paul Watson Productions

Natural Born Tellers: The Stories of Little Jamaica

This intergenerational storytelling project fosters community participation and pride for residents of Little Jamaica. Story Circles and presentations held at Toronto Public Library’s Maria A. Shchuka Branch celebrate storytellers Miss Lou, Rita Cox, Itah Sadu and Jan Blake.

Project lead: Storytelling Toronto

Speaking Up: Voices of the Community

A performance-based series of creative writing workshops for young children. This project features works by emerging writers and spoken word artists where all participants learn from professional spoken word artist Desiree Mckenzie.

Project lead: Shakespeare In Action

The Cipher Mentorship

Designed for emerging artists from Little Jamaica, the Cipher Mentorship provides opportunities for music industry professionals to mentor, engage and support participants through educational sessions focused on everything from business and branding to money management and performance capabilities.

Project lead: Diversified Youth Initiative

Under the Banyan Tree

A series of Caribbean literary and art history workshops where participants discover the poetry, music and art that have defined Caribbean culture. Workshops focus on dissecting pivotal artworks and exploring how they can inform modern-day art practices.

Project lead: Patrick Walters

Visual Chronicles

This street photography project invites youth from Little Jamaica to identify spaces and individuals that spark a sense of community pride. Participant works are printed in large format and exhibited in an outdoor public space within the community.

Project lead: MUSE Arts

The Cultural Hotspot program provides funding to nurture creativity within Toronto’s outside-the-core communities and enhance how residents experience arts and culture. Project grants are typically awarded for a term within one calendar year however, when appropriate or necessary, projects may be carried forward from previous years.

Signature Projects

Albion Islington Squares

A plazaPOPS community-focused project that transforms four mall parking lots into accessible gathering spaces, each with its own name: 24K Corner, the Tuk Tuk, IsleStyle and ThistlePOPS. Swapping parking spaces for people spaces, the final designs are determined by a community working group comprised of local residents, business owners and community organizations from the Rexdale area. Stage space installed at one of the plazaPOP sites facilitate public performances by local and emerging artists. This project has been carried forward from 2021.

Project leads: plazaPOPS, Rexdale Community Hub, Albion Islington Square BIA and Grow Fitness Centre

Carnival Portal

Carnival Portal presents a series of exhibits that invite the viewer to travel through time and space, from oppressive origins to a time of love and unity. The exhibition hopes to expand understanding and appreciation of Caribbean carnival culture, and its ancestral journey, through the lens of future generations. This project has been carried forward from 2020.

Project lead: Dwayne Dixon

Safe Flight Home

This community-based public art project explores art techniques and ways to protect local migratory birds. Murals are co-created and installed on public-facing windows on the TTC subway stations of Downsview Park, Finch West and York University. This project has been carried forward from 2020.

Project leads: STEPS Public Art and FLAP Canada

SPACED

An outdoor site-specific exhibition that questions how large-scale photography can shape itself in urban, public spaces. While finding new meanings, visions and interactions with audiences, these works by local artists are on display in the Oakwood Village and Little Jamaica neighbourhoods. This project has been carried forward from 2021 and aims to visually communicate how residents can continue building, creating and evolving as a community.

Project lead: Nia Centre for the Arts

SPARK Projects

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 projects are displayed in one of the facility’s outdoor spaces. This project has been carried forward from 2020.

Project lead: Baycrest Health Sciences

Seize the Clay

A variety of pottery workshop sessions (with a final celebratory session) for Violence Against Women program members at The Neighbourhood Organization. Participants craft mugs, bowls, dishes and vases as part of this project. This project has been carried forward from 2020.

Project lead: The Potter’s Studio and The Neighbourhood Organization