Youth Arts Pitch Contest: Winners’ Profiles

2016

Community Arts Group Category: Sashoya Shoya Oya– $5,000

Creative Enterprise Category: Dymika Harte/ UNSGND$5,000


2015

Community Arts Group Category: Our Space – $5,000

Creative Enterprise Category: Alicia Harris $5,000


2014

Community Arts Group Category: Black Like We – $5,000

Creative Enterprise Category: Wild Moon Jewelry – $5,000


2013

Community Arts Group Category: Jason Williams (for Queue) – $5,000

Creative Enterprise Category: Outburst! Young Muslim Women Project – $5,000


2012

Community Arts Group CategoryIll NANA / Diversity Dance Company – $5,000

Creative Enterprise Category: 88 Days – $5,000


2011

Individual Artist Category: Raquel Da Silva – $5,000

Community Arts Group CategoryBoss Magazine – $5,000


2010

Individual Artist Category: Cassandra “Cassy” Walker – $5,000

Community Arts Group Category: Colour Me Dragg – $5,000

Youth Arts Entrepreneur Category: Adam Zivojinovic – $5,000


2009

Individual Artist CategoryMemo – $5,000

Youth Arts Entrepreneur CategoryN.I.S.E Clothing – $5,000

Community Arts Group CategoryRated Inc – $5,000


2007

Community Arts Group CategoryManifesto – $3,000

Community Arts Group CategoryPhase1 Step Team – $3,000

Community Arts Group CategoryTravis A. Blackman – $3,000


Pitch Contest – 2016

::Read more about the 2016 Pitch Contest on our Blog::

::View photos from the Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2016::

::Watch the video from the 2016 Pitch Contest::


Pitch Contest – 2015

::View photos from Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2015::

On Thursday October 8th, 2015, ArtReach x City of Toronto Cultural Services, were proud to present the 2015 Youth Arts Pitch Contest. Again hosted through the City’s Cultural Hot Spot, this year’s Pitch Contest was held at the The Assembly Hall in South Etobicoke.

The Youth Arts Pitch Contest is an annual event produced by ArtReach and Toronto Arts & Culture Services with the goal of supporting young artists and entrepreneurs from underserved communities. Participants from across the city apply for a chance to pitch their idea live in front of an audience and panel of judges made of esteemed members of Toronto’s arts community. This event provides training towards putting together a successful pitch, and offers young artists access to hard-to-find financial resources for unique elements of their work.

Contest participant Alicia Harris explains- “being a young artist is a scary. It’s even scarier when you decide to make a career out of it. There are people continuously telling you that you won’t get a job, and that you just can’t do it. The Youth Arts Pitch Contest believes in young artists, like myself. Beyond the monetary prize, the guidance and workshops and most importantly the support, has been truly life-changing”.

“Winning the prize money will allow OurSpace to pursue arts-based projects to address the needs of young guys who like guys in the city. We will empower young guys to share their stories with the community.” Having won $5000, Our Space looks forwards to launching the project shortly. “It was affirming experience, tapping into our strengths rather than criticizing our weaknesses. It has reinforced my confidence as a creative and affirmed the importance of creating art.”

Thank you to this year’s fantastic judges- Drex Jancar (Co-Founder, The Remix Project), Fly Lady Di (choreographer, dancer), Keita Juma (rapper, producer) and Tiffany Hsiung (filmmaker), and our host, the ever-hilarious Darrel Gamotin.

This year’s contestants included:

Alicia Harris, Dominique Morris (for Perfect Keys Academy), Dynesti Williams, Triangle & Seed, OurSpace, Justin Brown (for Smile Toronto), Leila Dey & The Dey Dreamers, and Lido Pimienta (for Electric WOC).

And the winners are…

Community Arts Category:

First: Our Space
Second: Justin Brown
Finalists: Leila Dey & The Dey Dreamers, and Lido Pimienta

Creative Enterprise Category:

First: Alicia Harris
Second: Domonique Morris
Finalists: Dynesti Williams, and Triangle & Seed


 Pitch Contest – 2014

::View photos from Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2014::

::Watch video::

On Thursday October 30th, 2014, ArtReach and City of Toronto Cultural Services, in partnership with the RBC Royal Bank and The United Way, were proud to present the 2014 Youth Arts Pitch Contest.

The arts are a powerful and motivating way that youth are involved in their communities. Whether it’s in someone’s basement, or through a community program – young people are creating art all over this city. ArtReach’s annual Pitch Contest works to support youth aspirations in the arts, by giving them the chance to win up to $5,000 for their community arts or business based ideas.

But this is more than just an event- “the pitch contest challenged me on so many levels. I’ve had the opportunity to pitch for funding before, but I’ve never done a creative pitch with other people. Through the experience I learned how to be a better leader and how to deliver an entertaining pitch in front of a panel of judges. I was also able to meet new friends and establish connections that I didn’t have before. It was hands down one of the most exciting experiences of my life”, said XyXv’s Anthony Gebrehiwot.

Asia hoped the prize money would help her with funding to attend a Jewelry Arts Academy for Goldsmithing in Trinidad and Tobago as well as to hire an assistant to help with existing demand, two key pieces she felt she was missing. In her pitch, she used a combination of audio/visual projection and live models to entertain and win over the crowd.  “Preparing for the pitch contest was a challenge because I really wanted to win but was made nervous by my amazing competitors – I was already aware of and inspired by their work” says Asia, “I have connected with some of the other finalists and even made plans to collaborate on future work which is dope! I’m looking forward to that.”

The 2014 Pitch Contest was hosted at the Scarborough Civic Centre, 2014’s Toronto Cultural Hotspot, and was hosted by the amazing Femi Lawson and Kayla Greaves. Also, thank you to our wonderful judges: Ashley McKenzie-Barnes, Bryan Brock, Jalani Morgan, Tara Muldoon, and Caroline Mangosing. And as always, ArtReach and our partners congratulate all contestants in the 2014 Youth Arts Pitch Contest for their passion, bravery and talent!

This year’s contestants included:

XyXv Photo, Jellytoofly, Black Like We, Wild Moon Jewellry, CoreX Media, Alien Nation, and PIQUE Toronto.

And the winners are…

Community Arts Category:

First: Black Like We
Second: XvXy Photo
Finalist: Jellytoofly

Creative Enterprise Category:

First: Wild Moon Jewellry
Second: CoreX Media
Finalists: Alien Nation, and PIQUE Toronto


 Pitch Contest – 2013

::View photos from Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2013::

::Watch video::

On Thursday September 12, 2013, ArtReach and City of Toronto Cultural Services, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Grassroots Youth Collaborative (GYC), were proud to present the 2013 Youth Arts Pitch Contest.

An annual event, the Pitch Contest seeks to connect young local artists to the funding that they need to get their ideas and careers to the next level. This year saw eight finalists compete for $15,000 in cash prizes and $4000 in supplementary prize packs, to push them closer to their goals of professional artistry, youth empowerment, and community building. 2013’s Youth Arts Pitch Contest brought Byron Photography, Francis Atta, Jason Williams of Queue, KeepRockinYou, Outburst! Young Muslim Women Project, Skittlez Gunn, The Starfish Canada and Victoria Mejicano together on the main stage to display their goods, pitch their hearts out, and vie for the top prize.

This year, we were honoured to have our panel of judges include: Garvia Bailey of CBC Radio 2; Setareh Sarmadi, a photo editor at Sportsnet Magazine; triple threat (actor/ dancer/ choreographer) Ofilio Portillo; Priya Ramanujam, editor-in-chief of Urbanology magazine; and groundbreaking filmmaker Romeo Candido. The ever-fabulous Femi Lawson and Shannon Boodram hosted the event, and took us on a musical, artistic, political, and comedic journey through this year’s pitches.

The Pitch Contest aims to help young artists secure hard-to-reach resources for unique elements of their work, provides training towards putting together a successful pitch, and assists in forging connections between the presenters and esteemed members of Toronto’s arts community. All in all, the contest was a success not just for the participants, but also for the spectators who couldn’t help but feel inspired by the passion and motivation demonstrated by these young artists in pursuing their dreams.

And now for the results…

Creative Business & Career Development Category:

First: Jason Williams for Queue
Second: Skittlez Gunn
Runners up: Byron Photography & Victoria Mejicano

Community Arts Projects & Productions Category:

First: Outburst! Young Muslim Women Project
Second: Francis Atta
Runners up: KeepRockinYou & The Starfish Canada

As always, ArtReach Toronto and our partners congratulate all participants in the 2013 Youth Arts Pitch Contest for their passion, bravery and talent!


 Pitch Contest – 2012

::View photos from the Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2012::

::Watch video::

ArtReach, in partnership with City of Toronto Cultural Services and Manifesto hosted its fifth annual Youth Arts Pitch Contest on Friday, September 21, 2012 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Seven finalists competed for $15,000 in cash prizes in two categories: Creative Enterprise and Community Arts. Ever enthusiastic, our hosts Femi and Shannon Boodram kept the show going and the crowd eager to see the finalists give their all for the panel of judges that included: Michee Mee (Canada’s First Notable Female MC); Kim Crosby (Social Entrepreneur/ Artist); Kay McConney (Executive Minds); Memo (Spoken Film); and Mike Prosserman (UNITY Charity).

ArtReach’s annual pitch contest is a testament to the breadth of art forms being nurtured, evolved and celebrated in Toronto’s communities. We saw classically trained dancers presenting new forms of movement that both entertain and empower; we were introduced to innovative ideas of how creators with cutting edge sounds can financially sustain themselves; and we heard about film concepts that explore diasporic experiences from a female’s perspective.

ArtReach’s Pitch Contest supports finalists from beginning to end. Workshops on creating and presenting a pitch are provided in preparation for the big night. The Pitch Contest itself provides participants with an invaluable opportunity to gain direct feedback from influential individuals in the arts, entertainment, and business sectors. Money awarded goes to supporting creative and artistic endeavours that enrich our communities, while empowering young people.

ArtReach congratulates all the winners and participants of the 2012 Youth Arts Pitch Contest and thanks them for the impact they are making through their dedication.

Contest participants included:

Ill Nana/DiverseCity Dance Company, La Salsa Colorada, Muna Egeh, Bones & Arrows, Tumbleweed Instruments, 88 Days of Fortune and The Real Sun.

And the winners are…

Community Arts Category:

First: Ill Nana/DiverseCity Dance Company
Second: Muna Egeh

Creative Enterprise Category:

First: 88 Days of Fortune
Second: The Real Sun

Special thank you to all of our contributors and sponsors: Art Gallery of Ontario, Urbanology Magazine, First Leadership Limited, and CMANGO DESIGN.


 Pitch Contest – 2011

::View photos from Youth Arts Pitch Contest 2011::

::Watch video::

ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with Manifesto, City of Toronto Cultural Services, and the Grassroots Youth Collaborative hosted its fourth annual Youth Arts Pitch Contest on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education.

Host Big Norm kept the enthusiastic crowd entertained as they watched and cheered on the nine youth finalists. The finalists competed for a $5000 prize in one of three categories – Community Youth Arts Group, Youth Arts Entrepreneur, and Individual Artist. Second and third place prizes were also awarded, totaling $10,000 in value. The finalists worked their hardest to impress an esteemed panel of judges that included: Michee Mee (Canada’s First Notable Female MC), Ravi Jain (WhyNot Theatre); Kay McConney (Executive Minds); Che Kothari (Executive Director of the Manifesto Festival); and Rosina Kazi (LAL).

Contestants used a variety of creative ways to get their message across – from live musical performances, to theatre, dance, fashion, videos and photography displays. The audience was treated to a display to some of Toronto’s top youth talent. Last year’s winner in the Individual Artist category, Cassandra “Cassy” Walker, returned for a special theatrical performance. The 2010 winner in the Entrepreneurship Category, Adam Zivojinovic, also impressed the audience with samples of his recent film products.

ArtReach Toronto’s Pitch Contest supports finalists from beginning to end. Workshops on creating and presenting a pitch are given in preparation for the big night. The Pitch Contest itself provides participants with an invaluable opportunity to gain direct feedback from influential individuals in the arts, entertainment, and business sectors. Money awarded goes to supporting creative and artistic endeavours that enrich our world while empowering young people.

ArtReach wishes all the winners and participants of the 2011 Youth Arts Pitch Contest big congratulations.

Contest participants included:

Boss Magazine, Herculine Barbine, Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, Chips, Blair Photography, Rep Clothing, Raquel Da Silva, Red Slam Collective, and Shi Wisdom.

The winners were:

Individual Artist Category: Raquel Da Silva

Community Arts Group Category: Boss Magazine

Youth Arts Entrepreneur Category: CHIPS

Thank you to all of our sponsors: Urbanology Magazine, Salazar Studios, Royalz Clothing, Laidlaw Foundation, Sway Magazine, First Leadership Limited, Hightop, Fourth Dimension and CMANGO DESIGN


 Pitch Contest – 2010

::View photos from 2010 Youth Arts Pitch Contest::

ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with Manifesto, City of Toronto Cultural Services, and Toronto Community Housing hosted its third Youth Arts Pitch Contest on Monday, September 20, 2010 from 7:00 – 9:00pm at 99 Sudbury, a unique event space located in the artistic Queen West area of Toronto.

The event was hosted by Devon Soltendieck and Matte Babel of CP24 Breakfast, and provided a wide range of youth artists the opportunity to pitch their creative ideas for the chance to win one of three top prizes of $5000 each. Nine finalists competed in three categories – Community Youth Arts Group, Youth Arts Entrepreneur, and Individual Artist – before a panel of accomplished judges. The judges represented a cross-section of the Canadian media and cultural landscape. The judges were: Farley Flex (Canadian Idol judge and President/CEO of Plasma Management & Productions), Gillian Hewitt (Executive Director and CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and avid arts volunteer), Michee Mee (recording artist and hip-hop icon), Nawa Nicole Simon (dancer and 2010 Dora Mavor Moore nominated actress), and Sora Olah (actress and host of StreetEats).

The innovative and interactive nature of the Pitch Contest supports finalists throughout the whole process. From workshops on how to create a five-minute ‘pitch’ through to direct and live feedback from industry heavyweights, young people are provided with crucial learning that will assist them in advancing their artistic careers. The money awarded provides much needed resources to emerging artists that are often overlooked by funding organizations.

Attendees and participants enjoyed an exciting evening showcasing some of the city’s top young talent in theatre, hip-hop, drag/gender performance, fashion, dance, music and film. During the pitches, the audience was frequently on its feet cheering on the incredible presentations by finalists. 2009 Pitch Contest winner Memo returned to deliver a powerful spoken word set before the winners were announced.

ArtReach wishes all the winners and participants of the 2010 Youth Arts Pitch Contest congratulations and best wishes.

Contest participants included:

UNITeam, Sum of Us Collective, Colour Me Dragg, EFFETTO (MCW), Role Model Records, Adam Zivojinovic, Cassandra “Cassy” Walker, Wolf J McFarlane, and Dominique Grant.

The $5,000 winners were:

Individual Artist Category: Cassandra “Cassy” Walker (Theatre)

Community Arts Group Category: Colour Me Dragg (Drag & Gender Performance Art)

Youth Arts Entrepreneur Category: Adam Zivojinovic (Film)

Thank you to all of our sponsors: Hightop, Royalz Clothing, WIT Solutions, Urbanology Magazine, Bene-Fete, The Tech Zone, CMANGO DESIGN, Salazar Studios, Laidlaw Foundation and Chris Jackson (Easpark Productions).


Pitch Contest – 2009

::View photos from Youth Arts Pitch Contest::

ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with Manifesto, City of Toronto Cultural Services and Toronto Community Housing Corporation hosted a Youth Arts Pitch Contest on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at Whippersnapper Gallery – a Toronto-based youth art collective and hub for young talent.

This event provided young artists, aged 16-24, with the opportunity to pitch their artistic and entrepreneurial ideas to a live and interactive panel of judges including Canadian Idol’s Farley Flex, Nawa Simon (ArtReach Toronto Grant Review Team, Actress, Dancer), Rich Kidd (Rapper, Producer), Sorah Ola (Host, SUN TV’s Street Eats), and Adrian McKenzie (Co-Publisher / Creative Director, Urbanology Magazine). The pitch contest is part of ArtReach Toronto’s commitment to innovation in providing young artists with resources and support to pursue their artistic goals.  It is an opportunity to fund new and emerging arts forms such as fashion arts, while also supporting youth arts entrepreneurs who often find securing funding challenging.

Of the many applicants, eleven finalists were short-listed and invited to attend a workshop called “How To Make a Pitch”.  At the pitch contest, hosts FAMOUS and Hustlegirl allotted five minutes to each group to deliver a pitch that would inspire and excite the panel of industry leaders.  The groups were competing for three $5000 cash prizes in the following categories: “Individual Artists”; “Community Arts Groups” and “Youth Arts Entrepreneurs”.

In addition to compelling pitches, other entertainment included performances by DJ Dalia, an open mic session and an array of artistic, musical, dance, theatre, spoken word and literary arts performances.  David Lawrence took home a pair of Raptors tickets for his incredible performance during the open mic and ArtReach Toronto Program Manager, Shahina Sayani, won the hearts of all attendees with a moving Bollywood dance performance.

The finalists were recognized for their creative and inspiring concepts and presentations. They include:

Individual Artist Category:

First: Memo (Spoken Word)
Second: Sun
Third: Yiwei Hu, Redway, KG Makaglo

Community Arts Group Category:

First: Rated Inc (Dance)
Second: Nomanzland
Third: Miles Turner

Youth Arts Entrepreneur Category:

First: N.I.S.E. (Fashion Clothing)
Second: Nicolas Denny
Third: Trisha Henson

Thanks go to all of our sponsors for supporting this initiative; Gully Klassics, Hightop, Royalz Clothing, WIT Solutions, Urbanology Magazine, Peter Franco Sneakers, Bene-Fete, The Tech Zone, c*mango design, Moog Audio, Stolen From Africa, Big-It-Up, Good Boy Clothing, Manifesto One City Series and Musebox.


Pitch Contest – 2007

ArtReach Toronto, in partnership with City of Toronto Culture, awarded 3 prizes of $3,000 each to groups of youth involved in community-based arts projects.  The event was part of the Ignite: Youth Arts Forum, held at the Gladstone Hotel on June 12 and 13. A series of young artists made high-energy pitches in front of a panel of celebrity judges, including Canadian Idol’s Farley Flex, and ArtReach grant review team members Sarah DeCarlo, Michael Murray and Nawa Nicole Simon.

The winners of the pitch contest were recognized for their creative and inspiring proposals to develop community arts projects in their neighbourhoods. Each of the winners pitched their own unique projects.  Phase 1 Step Team is an all female step dance group based in Scarborough, Travis Blackman is an individual artist creating a book for youth that spreads a message of positivity, and Manifesto is a festival bringing together youth involved in urban arts form from across the city.  

According to Che Kothari: “Manifesto was thrilled by the opportunity of being a part of the ArtReach pitch contest, and we were extremely honoured to be chosen as a recipient from all of the amazing groups that presented. We have already put a portion of the funds into a fundraising event for Alexandra Park Community Centre in June and the remaining money will be used towards another fun day in Alexandra Park promoting homegrown music and arts talent during our 4-day festival taking place September 20th-23rd.  We really hope that more pitch contest like this can take place- this is where creative ideas and projects can come to life, where groups can expose themselves to a wide and attentive audience, where people in the audience can get inspired to start up their own initiatives, and where motivated groups and individuals can get the financial support to help see their projects come to fruition….and it’s all in good fun!  From everyone involved with Manifesto, BIG UP ARTREACH, it’s a blessing for the city to have you.”  

The panel of judges selected the three winners from a short-list of eight, all of whom had five minutes on stage to make a creative and dynamic arts performance for the judges. The winners each received $3,000 to develop their ideas into arts programs in their neighbourhoods that will engage community members in the process and the project.

“The arts are a powerful and motivating way that youth are involved in their communities,” says Farley Flex, one of the judges on the pitch contest panel. “Whether it’s in someone’s basement, or through a community program, young people are creating art all over this city.  We want to discover and support some of Toronto’s finest artistic talent and encourage community participation through the arts.”

The pitch contest is part of ArtReach Toronto’s and the City of Toronto Culture’s commitment to support the meaningful engagement of Toronto youth, who have experienced exclusion, through active participation in quality arts opportunities.

The lucky winners included: Phase1 Step Team, Travis A. Blackman, and Manifesto.

The other finalists were: Jeramy Henry (KB), Josue Maya, Children’s Peace Theatre, Freedom Clothing, rad (random acts of dance).