ArtBridges/ToileDesArts Report 2010 Accomplishments, Highlights & Evaluation

13 05 2011


Photo collage by Kate Austin, ArtBridges Creative Partner; community arts programs, organizations and projects represented in profiles on this blog

ArtBridges/ToileDesArts’ main activities: outreach, collaboration and communication: In 2010, we made hundreds of phone calls and e-mails to people across Canada who deliver arts projects, programs, organizations or resources in under-resourced or under-serviced communities. We connected people and highlighted their work and activities through the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts network.

We talked with people working in everything from a social work & hip-hop program for Inuit youth in the Arctic (Blue Print for Life), a visual art program for incarcerated women in Montreal (La Société Elizabeth Fry du Québec), a media arts project for children and youth who have experienced domestic violence in Vancouver (L.O.V.E., B.C.), a visual art centre for people with intellectual disabilities in Edmonton (Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts), to a social circus that travels to remote communities in Newfoundland (Wonderbolt Productions). We are constantly hearing about the amazing benefits to communities of community arts / arts for community engagement /art for social change.

We inaugurated our Francophone Community Arts Program In early 2010, we created and recruited for a new position: ‘Francophone Research Assistant’. This position researched and formed community collaborations with Francophone community arts projects, organizations, programs and resources across Canada. This enabled us to develop more of a bilingual presence on the ArtBridges network and take calls and e-mails in French. In 2010, three p/t staff and volunteers shared this position and were able to map and identify 74 projects, programs, organizations and resources in 6 provinces.

Note from Francophone Research Assistant, Alexa de Repentigny-MacAulay:
“After gathering almost 300 sources in francophone community arts in 6 different provinces and contacting people all across the country, ArtBridges/ToileDesArts has vastly expanded as a resource for francophone community arts in Canada. We have gotten to know each province and its differing needs and strengths in the field of community arts. …With the exception of Québec, through ArtBridges/ToileDesArts research, we’ve found that the majority of francophone community arts work does not focus on minority, under-resourced, or under-serviced communities. Rather, the concern is for preserving French language and culture in itself. As Francophones represent under 5% of the population in provinces and territories Canada-wide, with the exception of Québec, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick (2006 census), the emphasis of their work is on having francophone services in general. Throughout our communications with the projects, resources, organizations, and programs that we have contacted, we have elicited surprise that our initiative exists as well as a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the project.” (January 20th, 2011)

We connected people who asked us for help (“ArtBridging”), for example:
• We contacted 12 sources across ON, NWT, NFLD, and the YUKON and advertised the need for a caribou hair-weaving instructor for an Inuit community in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). This community had the funding to fly in an instructor, but couldn’t find anyone, so they wrote to us. Through our connections and assistance, the community found and hired an art instructor from Hay River, NWT.
• We coached the Arts Open, in Toronto, on how their supported project, Shoot with This, could find a fundraiser and raise funds to become a sustainable project.
• We assisted Community Works in Winnipeg by putting the word out to a dozen First Nations arts organizations and communities across Canada to help them find a consultant who could work with the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug community in North Ontario to develop a cultural plan and bring sustainable community arts activities into the community.
• A staff at RAY, in Winnipeg, was researching arts-based pre-employment programs for street entrenched youth. He asked for ArtBridges/ToileDesArts to connect him with successful programs of this kind in Canada. We connected him with the Murphy Centre for Community Youth Arts in St. John’s, Street Culture Kidz Project in Regina, and ArtHeart, in Toronto.
• Students at the University of Ottawa needed to find a community arts charity and conduct a fundraising event towards their studies in Education. One student reached ArtBridges/ToileDesArts and asked what arts organizations/programs/projects worked with at risk children and youth in the Ottawa area. ArtBridges/ToileDesArts directed her to four groups and shared fundraising event planning information with her. Because of ArtBridges/ToileDesArts’ assistance, the group said that they doubled their fundraising goal at a benefit concert!

2010 ArtBridges/ToileDesArts Web/Blog/Facebook/Twitter Activity and Statistics:
ArtBridges/ToileDesArts developed a presence on-line. The ArtBridges/ToileDesArts network provided a way for people to freely access information about community arts organizations, projects, programs and resources in under-serviced and under-resourced communities across Canada.
Our first year, 2009, was spent researching, identifying and making contact with over 300 community arts programs, projects, organizations and resources that service under-resourced communities across Canada. In 2010, we were able to start to access all of these arts groups that we had previously identified, and form collaborations. In early 2010, we started to actively share, highlight and profile information about the work of our community partners on our on-line network.
• We collaborated with our community partners across the country and created 137 posts together (compared with 7 collaborative posts in 2009)
• Our blog had a total of 8635 views in 2010. 7279 views from visitors and 1356 views from subscribers, compared with a total of 1374 views in 2009.
• We had 2406 views to our Google map (this map contains the contact information of our community partners and their organizations). *
• We set up a blog subscription option and had 15 subscribers. We set up a twitter account and had 41 followers** and we activated our facebook group page and had 161 followers.**
* Data recorded on Oct. 10th, ’10; ** Data recorded to Feb. 7th,’11. Otherwise all data recorded December 31st.

How interactive was our service? People e-mailed us information to share on the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts network about events, workshops, education and training, help needed and opportunities. People also called or e-mailed us with questions, or need for information or connections. Each post we made on our network was the result of collaboration with an arts service. Typically, this required a call or two, and about 5 e-mails back and forth on edits and authorizations to post. People posted comments, tweeted, joined our facebook group visited our blog and google map.

How are people finding out about ArtBridges/ToileDesArts?
Some of our community partners are putting links to artbridges.ca on their websites (including EngreNage Noir/Levier, Wonderbolt Productions, Focus on Nature and STEPs).

People are finding ArtBridges/ToileDesArts though google searches, twitter and facebook, web links, word of mouth, as well as through our constant outreach and promotion. Things that we posted about a year ago are being sought through google searches, and once people are on the site, they explore other areas. (WordPress has extensive data on viewers, what searches bring people to the site, and what links they use that are on our site).

People ‘get it’ better and want to be part of our network!:
We are finding it takes much less time to explain our purpose to potential community partners, as we have a year or so of network activity and collaboration behind us. People understand our mandate so much more easily, where as only 8 months ago, we had to describe our mandate in long-winded explanations. Now people just go on the site, and express that they’d like to be part of it.
We are finding that people are asking us if we can post material of theirs on the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts network. This is wonderful- to be asked to do things, (as opposed to soliciting work). This shows that our new community partners see the value of ArtBridges/ToileDesArts as a way to connect to others in the field, across the country. Their contributions provide us with a greater range of material; all of which makes for a more interesting and current network, and worth coming back to.

We were interviewed about: ‘How to start a community arts centre/project and factors of success’ by Sustainable Thinking and Expression on Public Space (STEPs); ‘how to make sure community arts programs are diverse’, by Creative Mosaics; and ‘what are effective policies for children and youth community arts centres’ (this information will contribute to a report about the need to create standardized policies that will be circulated amongst community arts centres/projects) by The Arts Network for Children and Youth (ANCY).

We participated in conferences and workshops, such as: ‘Community Art: About? With? For?’/ L’ART COMMUNAUTAIRE : SUR ? AVEC ? POUR ? une communauté? hosted by Engrenage Noir/Levier in Montreal, in November; and ‘Connect towards a Socially Engaged Aesthetic’ hosted by Common Weal Community Arts Inc. in Regina, in May.

We wrote several letters of support for organizations including: Borough Most Thorough (Scarborough) and Community Arts Council (Vancouver).

See “A Growing Community” for a list of the community arts projects, programs, organizations and resources across Canada that we collaborated with and featured profiles, stories or information about on the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts network in 2010

We ran a very lean and green project. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to sublet a bright office with wireless internet connection at King and Bathurst in downtown Toronto, for $100/mo., thanks to two of our community partners: SKETCH and Arts Network for Children and Youth. We employed free social network applications and tools (wordpress blog, google, facebook and twitter.) Our staff, consultants, and volunteers each brought their own lap-tops to the office (7 in total!) All of our data and material was backed up on google-docs and g-mail, and material was rarely printed. Our main office expense was a toll-free phone line.

Our fundraising activities: ArtBridges/ToileDesArts researched and applied to a number of Canadian-based foundations and received generous support from several. We also had support from individuals through a small direct mail campaign. We cultivated relationships with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council. Donations and Services – in – Kind made up a large part of contributions to ArtBridges/ToileDesArts; we estimate that eleven people volunteered 1300 hours over the year.

We created a Community Collaboration Agreement. With the legal input and editing support of two lawyers, Kim Snell and Beverly Chapin and Assoc., we created the ArtBridges/ToileDesArts Community Collaboration Agreement form. This document includes our project policies, terms of use, and a waiver and outlines our process for collaboration and the benefits of our service to our community partners and collaborators.

We organized our contact information and data, and backed-up all of our material. We completed the organization of ArtBridges/ToileDesArts’ contact list comprised of approximately 400 community arts projects, organizations, resources and programs in under-resourced communities across Canada on excel spread sheets and converted all into g-mail contacts, with search components. We organized everything by province/territory/region, age of participants, language and type of service (project/ program/organization/resource). We are now able to find contacts through specific searches (ie: all youth arts projects in Ontario, all Francophone arts programs in New Brunswick, etc.) We set up an on-line filing and back-up system on google-docs for our e-mails and documents and filed and backed-up everything to date.

Our Staff, Consultants, Advisory and Volunteers in 2010 were: Seanna Connell: Project Director, Kate Austin: Creative Partner, Ania Stypulkowski and Lisa Tran: Social Networking and Communications Assistants, Alexa de Repentigny-MacAulay and Virgile Kpodar: Francophone Research Assistants, Patty Porretta: Director of Development. Ted Snell: Volunteer Web Pre-Developer, Mimi Lai Drivas: Student Placement, Kim Snell: Volunteer Editor and Legal Consultant (Community Agency Agreement), Beverley Chapin: Legal Consultant (Community Collaboration Agreement), Aurelia Bizouard: Volunteer Francophone Research Assistant, Advisory Committee: Bridget Goldsmith, Dr. Christina Halliday, Lola Rasminsky, Stephanie Whitehouse.

-submitted by Seanna Connell, Project Director, ArtBridges


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