Cultural Hotspot Signature and SPARK Projects enable local artists and community organizations to celebrate art, culture and community with support from the City of Toronto. 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Prologue Performing Arts presents a series of interactive theatre performances and workshops at Eglinton Square Shopping Centre that engage the community through interactive storytelling, dance and music.
Project lead: Prologue Arts
This project offers multi-disciplinary art workshops and activations in Wexford Park, where the public paint a mural on a section of the walking and cycling trail with emerging Scarborough artists.
Project lead: VIBE Arts
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
This project animates Ashtonbee Reservoir Park with a large-scale public photo installation curated by local youth and using images from the Golden Mile community and archives. Led by Nithursan Elamuhian, park users can discover local history and the importance of public greenspaces.
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
Led by vocal coach Ramah 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.
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
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.
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 Community arts Council
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 collaborates with local organizations, businesses and residents to offer family-friendly music, dance performances and painting at local community events.
Project lead: K.E. Residents
Charles Brereton Park becomes a public art space with this block party-style event that celebrates the cultural significance of Little Jamaica. All are welcome to enjoy musical performances, art activations and food from local vendors before visiting the newly-renovated Nia Centre for the Arts.
Project lead: Nia Centre for the Arts
This project speaks to the importance of hair in Black culture with intergenerational hairstyling and art workshops that culminate in a mixed-media exhibit and public art mural.
Project leads: STEPS Public Art and D’Andra Montaque
A hands-on photography workshop series where kids explore their community as documentarians. Using images from iconic photographers and visual storytelling techniques, participants collaborate to create works that are exhibited at the Toronto Public Library’s Maria A. Shchuka Branch.
Project lead: Project Kids & Cameras
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 lead: STEPS Public Art
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
A community-focused project that transforms mall parking lots into free and accessible gathering spaces. 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 Etobicoke’s 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 2020.
Project lead: PlazaPOPS
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. This project has been carried forward from 2020.
Project lead: Baycrest Health Sciences
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.