Explore main street businesses and immerse yourself in public art by visiting storefronts that have been transformed into art activations in areas across Toronto — created in partnership with local businesses and arts and cultural organizations. NoVacancy is part of the StrollTO initiative to encourage residents to get outside and get to know their neighbourhoods.
Art walk area: Little India
Artist: Rosena Fung
Participating organizations: Gerrard India Bazaar BIA and STEPS
This creative concept started with the idea of a Discovery Walk, presented through a psychogeographic style map, which could highlight the many landmarks, mainstays and attractions on Gerrard Street East. Rosena Fung was commissioned to create the beautiful illustration featured on the discovery walk posters on display at vacant shops. This activation will breathe life back into spaces that are temporarily empty and promote the unique cultural experience of Little India Toronto. The artwork is playful, vibrant and community-focused.
Art walk area: Cabbagetown
Participating organization: Cabbagetown BIA
A New Beginning is an art walk across Cabbagetown featuring the work of a selection of local, notable artists. Centred around the themes of community, hope and rejuvenation, these works are meant to highlight our resilience and help us to keep going, together.
Art walk area: Downtown Yonge Street
Participating organization: Downtown Yonge Street BIA
In collaboration with Kadence World, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area has developed a series of public art activations on temporary hoarding in and around various Yonge Street businesses. During the closure of businesses, this art was created to give thanks to frontline workers.
Art walk area: Church-Wellesley Village
Participating organization: Church-Wellesley Village BIA
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church-Wellesley Village BIA has worked with local 2SLGBTQ+ artists to bring public art to spaces in transition in the neighbourhood. All of these artworks explore the theme of “Signs of Safety”. The artists use boarded-up storefronts as a canvas to illustrate how to create safer spaces, increase community safety, and keep the community safe during COVID-19.
Art walk area: Various art walk locations across Toronto.
Participating organizations: Albion Islington Square BIA, Chinatown BIA, GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, Kensington Market BIA, Lakeshore Village BIA, Leslieville BIA, MarketTO District BIA, Mount Pleasant Village BIA, Oakwood Village BIA, Riverside District BIA, Trinity Bellwoods BIA, and STEPS.
Building on the success of the 2020 Main Street Art Challenge and in partnership with RBC Royal Bank and the City of Toronto, STEPS presents this year’s I HeART Main Street to support BIAs of all sizes, strengthen business-community relationships, and provide meaningful opportunities for local Canadian artists.