Twenty-Four Newcomer Artists Celebrated through Two Awards

Established in 2015 as part of Neighbourhood Arts Network’s Newcomer Artist Spotlight program, the two opportunities aim to address barriers newcomer artists often face such as finding work and making connections in their new country.

TORONTO, December 3, 2018 – Twenty-four Toronto-based newcomer artists are the recipients of the 2018 RBC Arts Access Fund and RBC Artist Mentorship Award, administered by Toronto Arts Foundation’s Neighbourhood Arts Network. Sponsored by RBC, the Fund provides micro-awards of up to $1500 to professional newcomer artists to support the creation of new work, while the Mentorship Award matches six newcomer artists with leaders in the business community, giving them access to professional expertise.

Established in 2015 as part of Neighbourhood Arts Network’s Newcomer Artist Spotlight program, the two opportunities aim to address barriers newcomer artists often face such as finding work and making connections in their new country.

“Newcomer artists bring innovation, energy and new artistic approaches to Toronto,” said Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Foundation. “We’re thrilled that through our Neighbourhood Arts Network and the support of RBC, we’re able to provide essential resources and open new professional opportunities for these vital contributors to society. I expect to see much more from these artists for years to come.”

“The arts encourage a culture of creativity and innovation, and helps foster diversity and inclusion in our communities,” said David Bazak, Regional Vice President, RBC. “We are privileged to be able to offer the RBC Arts Access Fund and RBC Artist Mentorship Award, and thanks to Toronto Arts Foundation, we can help provide up-and-coming artists national recognition for their talent as they bridge the gap from academic world to career.”

The recipients of the 2018 RBC Arts Access Fund are:

Sahar Abdallah | Children’s book illustrator originally from Egypt. Funds will support the creation of an exhibition for children entitled Visual Poems featuring original illustrations that interpret a poem by Mahmoud Darwish. 

Shabnam Afrand | Multi-disciplinary artist originally from Iran. Funds will support Afrand’s first solo show in Toronto which explores the role of memory and ones sense of belonging, featuring a series of wood and bronze sculptures.

Ghazaleh Avarzamani | Multidisciplinary artist originally from Iran. Funds will support research for a project about displacement and migration. The project will incorporate plant material, prints and sculptures in an installation.

Mirna Chacín | Visual artist originally from Venezuela. Funds will support the creation of a photography and video solo exhibition to be held at Arts Etobicoke’s The Storefront Gallery in the spring of 2019.

David Chinyama | Visual artist originally from Zimbabwe. Funds will help cover the cost of Chinyama’s first studio space in Toronto, as well as materials needed to create a new body of work.

Tenzin Desel | Visual artist originally from Tibet. Funds will cover the cost of materials needed to make contemporary work using the traditional thanka painting technique.

Tarek Ghriri | Musician originally from Syria. Funds will help cover the cost of master classes led by professional flamenco guitarist Julian Berg.

Rimah Jabr | Theatre director and playwright originally from Palestine. Funds will support the development of Broken Shapes, a performance piece developed in collaboration with visual artist Dareen Abbas at The Theatre Centre which looks at how the concept of space affects our thinking.

Nour Kaadan | Percussionist and videographer originally from Syria. Funds will support professional development and will cover purchasing costs of new instruments to help with the facilitation of a workshop, Sounds of Change. 

Yannis Lobaina | Writer, producer and filmmaker originally from Cuba. Funds will support Travesía Mágica: Storytime in Spanish, a free program that celebrates Hispanic culture and heritage through storytelling and collages, presented at selected Toronto Public Libraries.

Ali Massoudi | Musician, teacher and music scholar originally from Iran. Funds will support the production of a concert by Navaye Kimia, an ensemble founded by Massoudi that performs music based on Indian, Greek and Arabic melodies, set with Farsi lyrics and made up of newcomer artists.

Ahmed Moneka | Theatre artist originally from Iraq. Funds will support the writing of a theatre piece about a young man from a distant planet and a refugee from Iraq whose conversations reveal the possibility of a world in which acceptance and unity are the pillars of existence.

Maryam Pazooki | Visual artist originally from Iran. Funds will support the creation of a series of workshops in linocut print making, Persian calligraphy and painting for newcomer youth. 

Mahsa Pourbakhsh | Singer/songwriter originally from Iran. Funds will support professional training in performance, songwriting and singing skills from vocal and performance coach Lorrain Lawson.

Samyuktha Punthambekar | Bharatanatyam dancer, arts educator and administrator originally from India. Funds will support the creation of a project in collaboration with artist Leslie McCue which will fuse Bharatanatyam dancing with Indigenous narratives.

Alice II Shin | Filmmaker originally from Korea. Funds will support research for Songs of Innocence (working title), a short film that will adapt scenes from John Milton’s 1667 poem Paradise Lost and will convey universal human experiences of love, loss, and forgiveness.

Nami Ueno | Visual artist originally from Japan. Funds will cover the cost of a workshop on tole art, a traditional Northern European and American pioneer decorative painting used on household objects such as kitchen items and furniture.

Andrea Vela Alarcón | Illustrator and community artist originally from Peru. Funds will support the creation of a multi-disciplinary project featuring illustrated portraits of newcomer artists and sound recordings about their immigration experience. 

The recipients of the RBC Artist Mentorship Award are:

Mirna Chacin | Visual artist originally from Venezuela. The mentorship will focus on developing an understanding of grants and other revenue-generating opportunities. Working on grant-writing and connecting with local galleries will also be a focus.

David Chinyama | Visual artist originally from Zimbabwe. The mentorship will focus on networking with the cultural community, building connections, identifying artistic and funding opportunities and gaining business skills.   

Elsa Hashemi | Photographer originally from Iran. The mentorship will focus on developing skills in audience development, marketing and branding.

Alice II Shin | Filmmaker originally from Korea. The mentorship will focus on gaining business skills including marketing and communications methods, and financial management practices to assist with current and future film projects.

Aitak Sorahitalab | Visual artist, art instructor, researcher and producer originally from Iran. The mentorship will focus on building new artistic and professional connections, and marketing and advocacy skills.

Fan Zhang | Visual artist originally from China. The mentorship will focus on developing tools to establish a career in fine arts, including developing skills in marketing and identifying revenue-generating opportunities.

The RBC Arts Access Fund was administered over two rounds in the spring and fall. The RBC Artist Mentorship Award was administered in the fall to past recipients of the Fund. Both programs were adjudicated by a peer jury consisting of Marta Keller-Hernandez, Program Manager at Mural Routes, Sarvenaz Rayati, multidisciplinary artist, Supriya Nayak, Odissi dancer and Himanshu Sitlani, theatre artist.

To read full recipient bios of the 2018 RBC Arts Access Fund and RBC Artist Mentorship Award, visit Neighbourhood Arts Netwok's WEBSITE

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About Toronto Arts Foundation
Toronto Arts Foundation is a charitable organization that sparks creative connections, spotlights artistic excellence, and supports vibrant cultural growth throughout our diverse city, through private sector investment.

About Neighbourhood Arts Network
Neighbourhood Arts Network enriches Toronto by fostering excellence in community engaged art making. This city wide network encourages the exchange of ideas, resources and expertise between artists who work in, with and for Toronto’s diverse communities. Neighbourhood Arts Network is an initiative of Toronto Arts Foundation.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 81,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at http://www.rbc.com/community-sustainability/.

Contact Information
For more information about the RBC Arts Access Fund and RBC Artist Mentorship Award, please contact: Sarah Gladki, Communications Manager, Toronto Arts Foundation at sarah@torontoarts.org or at 416-392-6802 x 217