Promise in the Park is a multi-year community-engaged arts project that cross-pollinated and grew the unknown or unacknowledged cultural riches in downtown Toronto’s Winchester Park and St. James Town neighbourhoods, and catalyzed new social connections while creating public artworks.

Promise in the Park emerged from an artistic residency with Diane Frankling Co-operative Housing that produced many ripples including the creation of several public artworks, as well as the genesis of ReDefine Arts in 2005.

During the first three years of conceptual development, ReDefine Arts facilitated arts-based and oral history research in the community including 150 mobile collaborative art making workshops in local schools, community groups, and community organizations. We explored experiences in this neighbourhood through the lens of personal stories, as well as the vernal equinox using a related oeuvre of spring myths and folklore brought to the process by participants. Five overarching themes emerged: lost and found; here and there; danger and safety; inside and outside; and transformation. With more than 600 community participants, we made three ceramic and glass mosaic installations and one in situ stone mosaic that explores these themes.

Flightpath, 2016. 550 Ontario Street, Toronto.
A ceramic and glass mosaic installation with 40+ components located in the passageway between Fieldstone and Hugh Garner Housing co-operative.

Cornerstone, 2015. 474 Ontario Street, Winchester Square Park, Toronto.
6 FT in diameter pebble mosaic.

Birds of a Feather, 2015. 477 Sherbourne Street, Toronto.
An ensemble of 9 mosaics installed at the entrance of Ernescliffe Housing Co-op.

Hatch, 2015. 15 Prospect Street, Toronto. 14’ tall x 8’ wide.
This ceramic mosaic was created with 350+ Winchester Public School students and staff.

In our fourth and final year of Promise in the Park, we focused on script development for the creation of a community performance through creative writing, music, movement, improvisation, as well as hand-stitching and textile art workshops. Produced in June 2017, Drift Seeds was an epic finale with a cast of 100+, more than a dozen community partners, and 300+ workshops, rehearsals, and open studios over nearly four years.

Funding Partners: Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training, and Service Canada.

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