(Left to right) Mural, Puppetry, Aboriginal Drumming/ all photos provided by AFCY
AFCY-Cultivating Creativity, Engaging Community
Founded in 1995, Arts for Children and Youth (AFCY) is a charitable, grassroots, not-for-profit organization that engages young people from Toronto’s under-serviced communities in meaningful arts education programs. The general model is to provide outreach programming and collaborative program development based on the communities’ needs. Our collaborative work in both priority schools and community venues is geared to further enrich young people’s lives through their art-making and communal participation. AFCY’s school and community-based programs are strategically and educationally linked. We work with children and youth ranging from ages 3-29. All programs are offered at no cost to the participants.
Our vision is to enable all young people, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances, to realize and act on their creative potential. It is within the imagination that people can discover new possibilities. The arts invite children and youth to explore, re-envision and make new connections to the world around them. Through their continued involvement in the arts young people discover their role as cultural innovators who can shape our collective future.
Programs and Hubs we Serve in
AFCY runs 150+ school and community based programs in nine priority communities in Toronto: Weston-Mount Dennis, Jamestown, Jane-Finch, Lawrence Heights, Regent Park, Warden Woods, Victoria Park, Malvern and Toronto Central.
We engage young people in multidisciplinary outreach programs that include visual arts, music, digital art, video, dub poetry, dance, drama and beat-boxing. In over 80 locations in the City of Toronto, AFCY operates school-based and after-school creative activities. You can find our programs in schools, shelters, malls, libraries, community centres, hospitals, public housing and in churches. AFCY’s guiding principles are “Cultivating Creativity, Engaging Community”.
The programs we provide are tailor-made and relevant to the community. Participants get hands-on experience working in a youth-led environment. We use existing community assets, for example, we recently transformed a traffic roundabout into a community based mosaic mural. Inclusive and accessible, our programs are centred on social and cultural awareness. We invite inter-generational interaction and base our artful projects on communal storytelling.
AFCY believes in youth mentorship. In every AFCY program, we hire two artists: a professional arts educator and a youth arts assistant who is a developing artist. The mentorship takes place as they work together facilitating the planned workshops. Mentees are placed in program frontlines for up to three years and thereafter are prepared to become AFCY lead artists.
Community Sharing is a consistent component of every AFCY program. In our Community Sharing Programs, program participants donate their artwork or performances to social service agencies within their community. This celebrates the youths’ artistic achievements both publicly and communally. At the core of such a public sharing of artwork/performances is the belief that youth participants recognize that creative activity is a means to interact with and affect society.
AFCY offers professional development workshops for Toronto artists, educators, and community workers. We operate an Arts Educators Institute to foster long-term development of the arts educational field. This ground-breaking initiative invites arts educators from across Toronto to attend.
AFCY has 4 full-time and 6 part-time office staff, a roster of 75 professional artists, approximately 25 volunteers and 40 developing youth artists. AFCY has a 9-member board of directors, an advisory board and a youth advisory council. Immediate administrative needs include support with strategic planning, governance, policies, board and staff development, conflict management, programming, curriculum development and new fundraising ideas.
(Left to Right) African Drumming, TTC Murals
BIG BAM BOOM! AFCY Youth Arts Festival
AFCY’s annual BIG BAM BOOM! Youth Arts Festival is a weekend-long exhibition and performance at the Harbourfront Centre. The festival is a culmination and celebration of the year’s programs. Conceived and orchestrated by AFCY’s Youth Advisory Council, the event showcases the talents of youth from Toronto’s under-serviced neighbourhoods.
Promoting our Work
AFCY partners with Onestop Media to display the childrens’ and youths’artworks on video screens in TTC subway platforms. The projects give the children and youth opportunities to share their experiences and talents and have dialogue with the public through their art.
In 2010-2011, AFCY operated on an annual budget of $850,000. Twenty seven per cent of AFCY’s annual budget came from the three levels of Canadian Government. Individual donors, foundation grants, corporate partnerships as well as other fundraising efforts help pay for programming and operating costs.
AFCY is interested in partnering and creating outreach programs with other community arts organizations. Because we are an established community arts organization, we would be interested in linking with other emerging or established organizations with whom we might share resources. In order to sustain our programming, we accept volunteer applications throughout the year. Our non-financial needs include art supplies, computers (both desktop and laptop), digital media recorders such as cameras, scanners, sound equipment and professional support with digital work.
Please visit www.afcy.ca for more information.
(Left to Right) Drama, Digital Art
- submitted by Julie Frost, Executive and Artistic Director of Arts for Children and Youth. ArtBridges interviewed Julie Frost in November 2010.
Please see ArtBridges’ Google Map for contact information.