ArtReach was successfully launched on August 22, 2006, at the youth-run Whippersnapper Gallery. Those in attendance were surrounded by art created by young people, representing a range of art forms. A showcase of young artists was presented, including: the Trethewey Youth Photography project, The S.T.E.P. U.P. dub poetry collective, DJ Michael Murray, and Colanthony Humphrey performing a live graffiti demonstration, and helping ArtReach to develop the first iteration of its iconic logo. See photos from the event here.
Hip hop producer and songwriter Solitair spoke in support of the program and on the broader topic of youth engagement through the arts. He delivered a message from one of Canada’s most successful hip hop artists, Kardinal Offishall: “I am glad that art is once again being recognized as a strong component for our youth’s future. I am proud to have been one of the many artists who feel that a change is needed, and this is a great start.” Solitair relayed a message from Kardinal about his positive experience with the Fresh Arts program of the 80’s, why arts programs are needed in Toronto, and how the arts are a great way to engage youth.
Shahina Sayani, program manager for ArtReach, spoke about her passion for the new initiative, because it recognizes the potential in young people. Shahina said: “It appreciates different forms of art for having value in and of itself – that arts lets you express yourself and be who you are. It also recognizes the power of using art as a tool to engage the most hard-to-reach youth”. She concluded with saying, “…it’s investing in youth, believing in them and supporting and empowering them to do what needs to be done that will affect long-term change. That’s what ArtReach is all about…”
Eleven years, $3.2 million in grants distributed, 3,500 workshop attendees, 400+ youth artists funded, and 600,000+ community members reached through our funded projects- and ArtReach is still out here hustling. Talk about coming full circle.