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Home / Arts / GTA local BIAs and artists take STEPS to activate main streets

GTA local BIAs and artists take STEPS to activate main streets


TORONTO, Sept. 1, 2020 /CNW/ – Some Toronto, York and Peel neighbourhoods are getting free public art displays through a program called the STEPS Initiative. It’s called the I heART Main Street Art Challenge and it is presented with the help of RBC Royal Bank.

To support our city and the culture that brings our communities together, STEPS has provided artists — many of whom identify as emerging or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) — and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) the opportunity to increase feelings of trust and community through DIY art installations.

STEPS is providing free placemaking services, artist fee subsidies, promotional support and prizes for Toronto and Peel Business Improvement Areas to host art installations as part of their pandemic recovery efforts.

The art will be a diverse range of installations from ground murals, painted benches, and sidewalk decals to window exhibits and cultural walks.

Port Credit Street Furniture displays are one of 40+ activations STEPS is supporting across the GTA through partnerships with Business Improvement Areas and local artists. Visit the art installations along Lakeshore Road East by artists Marco Bertuzzo, Lauren Pirie, and Erin McCluskey.

How iheART Main Street comes together

In only two weeks, over 20 BIAs submitted requests for free public art coaching, artist introductions, fee subsidies, promotional support and a chance to win prizes to scale their ideas over the pandemic recovery period.

The 42 new artworks currently underway were brought to life in collaboration with 25 local creatives; many of whom identify as emerging or BIPOC artists who have been impacted by a loss of income over the pandemic.

“The pandemic has changed our everyday life, but we can still appreciate art and being outdoors with others.” -Jieun June Kim, participating artist.

“We believe that placemaking has the power to help revitalize our main streets, and plays a vital role in a holistic, local economic recovery plan,” said Tasneem Bandukwala representing Gerrard India Bazaar BIA in Toronto.

Toronto artist Gosia Komorski paints a temporary ground mural as part of The STEPS Initiative’s Main Street Art Challenge, presented with RBC Royal Bank. This mural is one of 40+ activations STEPS is supporting across the GTA through partnerships with Business Improvement Areas and local artists. Visit this artwork at the Leslieville Claudio Ceritto Parklet (1097-1101 Queen St E, Toronto), and see other public art hosted by the Leslieville BIA. Photo Credit: Selina McCallum (CNW Group/The STEPS Initiative)

Where will the art installations be located

Activations are as diverse as the communities hosting them, including locally inspired sidewalk decals (Downtown Yonge, Fairbank Village, Danforth Mosaic); temporary ground murals (Leslieville); window exhibits with illustrated stories of local BIPOC community members (Riverside); painted benches (Port Credit); and cultural walks (Gerrard India Bazaar and Cabbagetown).

“In collaboration with two Asian-Canadian artists, we’re adding beauty to the local experience, and celebrating the unique culture of the area.” -Lucia Huang, Chinatown BIA.

For Natalie Hart with Malton BIA, hosting a crosswalk mural and other artwork near Westwood Square, “the Art Challenge is a way of bringing hope, vibrancy and beauty to our gathering places.”

Visit HERE for an interactive map of all the art installations and the artists being featured.

Artists being featured

Location: Toronto, York and Peel Region

Artist(s):  Bareket Kezwer, Caitlin Taguibao, Curtia Wright, Duncan C. McLean, Erin McCluskey, Fatspatrol, Gosia Komorski, Heidi Berton, Isaiah Haber, Jenn Kitagawa, Jieun June Kim, Lauren Pirie, Lindsay Hill, Linh Thai, Marco Bertuzzo, Michael Brobbey, Nick Sweetman, Rosena Fung, Roshni Wijayasinha, Selina McCallum, Sue Todd, Vesna Asanovic, Wandy Cheng, and Yshmael Cabana

Who is organising the iHeart Main Street Challenge

STEPS is a Canadian-based public art organization that fosters dynamic, inclusive and resilient communities through one-of-a-kind art initiatives and engagement strategies realized in collaboration with their artist roster and through calls-for-artists.

SOURCE notes The STEPS Initiative/CNW

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