TD Arts Diversity Award

Neighbourhood Arts Network TD Arts Diversity Award is a $10,000 cash award celebrating an arts organization/collective that makes a significant contribution in Toronto, by working collaboratively with culturally diverse communities and creating access to arts and culture

Congraulations to the TD Arts Diversity Award winner of 2016 - Regent Park Film Festival! Thank you for all the work you do to use art as the tool to promote diversity in Toronto's communities!


The award will be administered by the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Neighbourhood Arts Network. A peer jury will select five (5) finalists for the award.

The finalists for this year's award are:

  • Art Gallery of York University
  • imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
  • Regent Park Film Festival
  • The Remix Project
  • UforChange

Learn more about this years finalist, Art Gallery of York University:


What is the value of the art based work Art Gallery of York University does with diverse communities?

By developing socially engaged and participatory art practices the AGYU has transformed itself into a hub that facilitates the forging of collaborative relationships and the bridging of different cultural communities. The AGYU fosters communities of learning and knowledge exchange through artist-led education outreach projects (in particular in Jane–Finch) and supports experimental practices through special projects or long-term engagements with artists and under-represented communities. Through large scale performance projects such as Ring of Fire, the AGYU brought together Trinidadian visual artist Marlon Griffith to work and collaborate with the Mississaugas of the New Credit, disability dancers, capoeiristas, and spoken word artists on a 300 person outdoor procession. Recognizing the value of bringing together communities who may not normally collaborate or make artwork together, we fostered collective creative dynamics that allowed our collaborators to performatively occupy public city spaces and to enact diasporic aesthetics, affirming the power of anti-colonial practices of cultural resistance.

Over the years, the AGYU’s projects with contemporary artists have succeeded in activating civic participation on socioeconomic and political issues, raising awareness about educational concerns and searching for strategies to promote equality and social justice.

Our arts education programs provide Jane-Finch youth with enriching and challenging interdisciplinary art making activities and also serve as employment and professional development opportunities whereby emerging artists are mentored by mid-career artists. Through these programs, emerging artists gain invaluable work experience as arts workshop facilitators, preparing them for future opportunities in arts education. Moreover, our programs create platforms for youth artists to perform and showcase their talents, building awareness, audiences and support for a new generation of cultural producers. We are committed to public showcases that celebrate and recognize the artistic growth and achievements of our youth artists. We continue to witness the impact that these public presentations have on youth self-esteem, confidence and how it inspires and motivates an ongoing artistic practice and a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

 What’s the power of the arts as a unifying/communication tool?

The arts serve as a powerful vehicle for sharing and disseminating the overlooked and unacknowledged stories and histories of marginalized peoples. Seeing your history and experience reflected in artwork empowers viewers and creates a common bond of identification with the artist and with fellow cultural members who share those memories and connections. These acts of artistic reclamation empower artists and serve to build relationships of mutual support and reciprocity, community solidarity and feelings of belonging.

The arts can also mobilize people around important political issues and can serve as a rallying point that encourages productive dialogue. Involvement in the arts fosters leadership, creative thinking and problem solving that equips people to respond to adversity and conflict in constructive ways. Exhibitions and public programs exemplify art’s ability to give voice to multiple and diverging perspectives, exposing visitors to multiple possible points of view.


UforChange shares with us:

What is the value of the arts-based work UforChange does with diverse communities?

The arts serve as an incredible tool in UforChange's work with diverse communities. Design and the performing arts in particular provide a venue in which young people can express themselves and connect to their larger purposes. Regardless of whether the young person is a newcomer with limited English, a Canadian citizen who experiences barriers to access, or someone who is socially isolated and looking for community, fabrics, cameras, and turntables create an avenue to explore and grapple with their identities and experiences. UforChange does not admit young people based on skill or talent, but rather on their raw desire to further and better their lives, whether it's through social mobility or finding a community of aspiring artists to connect and collaborate with. Through art, diverse youth have the opportunity to be expressive, creative and innovative, all of which are transferable skills to whatever career paths they ultimately choose for themselves.

What’s the power of the arts as a unifying/communication tool?

The arts transcend language, race, gender, or immigration status. The arts bring people together who are from very different walks of life, and allow them to find common values and ground on which to build relationships. UforChange has experienced throughout its years of existence, bringing together youth of very diverse backgrounds. For example, we have young people who embark on art projects after graduating from the program, collaborating across their differences to produce companies, art installations and nonprofit initiatives. The arts unify youth through their very nature, as they allow for one to truly explore what it means to be who they are at the root, and find others who aspire towards similar ambitions and lifestyles.


The Remix Project tells us about their work:

 What is the value of the arts-based work The Remix Project does with diverse communities?

The Remix Project works to level the playing field for marginalized and underserved communities throughout the GTA. The work Remix does is valuable because it offers an alternative method of learning, creating and collaborating for the city’s most talented youth. In creating a space for youth to come together, we transcend neighbourhood borders and help foster community and creation.

What’s the power of the arts as a unifying/communication tool?

Art is a powerful unifying and communication tool as it is fluid and can exist both within and outside of mainstream systems and institutions. Remix uses arts as a means to address larger societal issues, while remaining grounded in our mission to educate and empower Toronto’s young people.


The Regent Park Film Festival share with us:

What is the value of the arts-based work The Regent Park Film Festival does with diverse communities?

Regent Park Film Festival embraces diversity in its most complex, messy and joyful forms. We believe in bringing different people and their many identities to reflect, ask difficult questions and enjoy a common experience together.

Our commitment to diversity is grounded in the idea of accessibility. We create spaces where good stories, powerful ideas and positive, carefree, experiences are accessible to us all, especially those of us living in public housing and low income communities.

This means that admission to our annual film festival, as well as our year-round screenings and workshops is completely free, and we provide child care and transportation to our major events.

We are proud to host some of the most diverse filmgoing audiences in the city, and inspire a space where diversity is celebrated as a shared value, important to reflect upon and engage with in creating a better society for us all.

What’s the power of the arts as a unifying/communication tool?

The arts have the capacity to tell stories that shape the world and how we think about one another. The arts have the capacity to disrupt our normal thoughts and ideas to make space for new possibilities. The arts can, at important moments, free our minds to re-imagine new ways of being, forming moments of greater understanding and connection; guiding us on our journey towards tangible, material and institutional change.

And, the power of the arts is strengthened by the diversity of experiences that inform it.

At the Regent Park Film Festival we honour this two-way relationship with the arts by engaging and cultivating diversity among our filmmakers and audiences alike - a most powerful combination to harness the potential of art towards forming community!

Learn more about ImagineNATIVE:

What is the value of the arts-based work imagineNATIVE does with diverse communities?

As the world's largest presenter of Aboriginal screen content, we provide platforms for acts of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

Through our activities and programs we proactively push back against barriers for Indigenous media artists and bring their work to diverse audiences, including non-Indigenous and New Canadian audiences.   We are committed to inclusion and reconciliation and by showcasing, promoting, and celebrating Canadian and international Indigenous filmmakers we help facilitate a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples, cultures, and artistic expressions.

What’s the power of the arts as a unifying/communication tool?

Indigenous self-expression through the media arts is intrinsically linked to cultural sovereignty and empowerment.

Indigenous peoples have been recorded and photographed since the invention of the motion picture camera and cinema has long acted as the primary source for non-Indigenous audiences to access representations of Indigenous peoples.  Films made solely for the benefit of the colonial gaze, without the consent or meaningful engagement of Indigenous people have contributed to racist, pan-Indian stereotypes and spread misinformation.  Film and media have without question caused harm but they can also be used as tools of resistance and self-determination when placed in the hands of Indigenous people themselves.

The works imagineNATIVE presents and supports are made by Indigenous filmmakers in their own voices on their own terms. When when we present these works to diverse audiences we are actively pushing back against a problematic history of misrepresentation.  The media arts provide us with a platform that is accessible and has a great capacity for audience engagement in a way that is unique to the medium. Through the media arts imagineNATIVE facilitates a better understanding of Indigenous peoples realities and perspectives.

Congrats to all our finalists!



Angie Aranda, Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Operations

Neighbourhood Arts Network                                                       

t. 416.392.6802 x218 



The Neighbourhood Arts Awards recognize the wealth of creative practices that reflect the perspectives of Aboriginal artists, newcomer artists, and artists of colour in our city. By considering a candidate’s contribution to community engagement and cultural diversity in Toronto, the Neighbourhood Arts Network Awards aim to support the ongoing development of an accessible and inclusive arts community.

Cultural diversity in this context refers collaborations with diverse individuals from different cultures or societies, taking into account language, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, age and ethnicity.

Access in this context refers to an intentional effort being made to broaden the reach of artwork into new communities and spaces. It also refers to making access a priority for those who with physical disability.

Community-engaged arts in this context is a unique and effective approach to community building that fosters relationships between artists and community, while producing exciting, unique art, and nurturing mentoring opportunities. The result is a dynamic explosion of creativity that changes how art is made, how communities are built, and how we live together.



The Toronto Arts Foundation, a charitable organization, provides the opportunity for individuals, private and public foundations, corporations and government agencies to invest in and strengthen the arts in Toronto.   We are powered by a vision: Creative City: Block by Block, a commitment to connect every Toronto neighbourhood to the transformative social and economic benefits of the arts. Through sponsorships, legacy gifts and donations to our Creative City Funds, Toronto Arts Foundation gives voice to the arts, shines the spotlight on Toronto's exceptional talent, and connects communities to the arts.

A strategic initiative of the Toronto Arts Foundation, the Neighbourhood Arts Network is the place where arts and community engagement meet in Toronto. We catalyze new discussions and relationships. We collect research and share information. We help artists and community organizations do what they do best: enrich Toronto and transform it into a more vibrant, beautiful, liveable city. To learn more, please visit