Arts in the Parks
50 parks. 350 family-friendly, free events.
Toronto Arts Foundation has a clear vision for Toronto – a great city where all our neighborhoods are connected to the transformative power of the arts. Where our communities are reflected in our arts. Where adults can witness the joy on children’s faces as together they dance and create along with professional artists. Where barriers are lifted, and arts are enjoyed and experienced by all.
To better understand how we can fulfil and support this vision, the Foundation conducted extensive research into the views of Torontonians on the value of the arts which concluded that although 96% see benefits to the arts in Toronto, nearly 9 in 10 see at least one barrier to attending arts events. Barriers cited were cost, proximity, and lack of quality events in their neighbourhood.
To directly address these barriers, Toronto Arts Foundation, with the support of Mayor John Tory, created Arts in the Parks.
"Arts in the Parks is an incredible program that makes it possible for Torontonians to enjoy exceptional arts programming against the backdrop of our city's beloved green spaces. Knowing the importance of access to the arts, I'm proud of the work Toronto Arts Foundation is doing to deliver the arts to communities across our great city."
Mayor John Tory
Arts in the Parks is an annual all-encompassing, summer long, inclusive arts initiative staged in every corner of the city, from Etobicoke to Scarborough and North York to the centre core, with a special emphasis on underserved areas. Events are free and family-friendly and include theatre, music concerts, and film nights as well as workshops for children and their families and neighbours.
"This experience has really changed my perspective of the park. Before, it was just a rust bucket."
Molly, Senior Citizen
The success of the program since its inception in 2015 has been remarkable - Arts in the Parks, which takes place in 55 parks each year, increased its number of activities from 249 in year one to 344 in year two, while quadrupling the number of participants from 35,000 to 155,000.
"I see myself in a lot of these children, these young people. When I was growing up I knew I wanted to be in music, but I didn't really have someone to show me how to do it."
DJ Eloquence, Workship Leader
Toronto Arts Foundation provides an extensive volunteer program including a targeted youth program, assistance to performers, grassroots community engagement including in-person and directed communications with individual neighbourhoods and local service organizations, and promotes all events with a city-wide marketing campaign.
"Arts in the Parks brought spirit back to the park. It brought the whole community back."
Jacky, Youth Participant
On-going evaluation of the program has provided insights on the benefits of the program including creating welcoming spaces, providing youth mentorship, connecting with the local community, creating learning opportunities for newcomers, building new skills and friendships through the volunteer program, and engaging seniors in new experiences.
"My son is seven years old. We are not used to going to arts camps in urban areas like this. This was the first time for me to see a small forest. He says to me "Mama - I went to the camp, and now I have friends."
Syrian Refugee Paricipant
Arts in the Parks is made possible by thanks to individual donations and the generous supportors of the Evening of the Arts, and is presented in partnership with the following:
Toronto Arts Council offers the Animating Toronto Parks grants program to support free arts programming presented by professional artists. Click here for more information on this program.
The City of Toronto, through its Arts & Culture Services and Parks, Forestry and Recreation departments, works closely with Toronto Arts Foundation to support the arts programming and facilitate the permit process.
Park People works in partnership with communities, park staff and private enterprises to facilitate neighbourhood engagement in local parks, provide resources and information for local park citizens on best practices and build a network of local community park groups.
Ready to make your own contribution to our shared vision? Donate towards Arts in the Parks today.
To learn more about Arts in the Parks, upcoming events and activities, volunteer opportunities and more, visit www.artsintheparksTO.org
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