The Story Behind Arts in the Parks

New in 2017, Arts in the Parks is a city-wide initiative that brings free, family-friendly arts events and activities to parks all over Toronto. Think theatre performances, dance classes, workshops, movies, festivals and more, right in your backyard! Arts in the Parks encourages community building, enjoyment of local parks, and offers arts events for residents and tourists of all ages. Perfect for the whole family, events take place in parks throughout Toronto, from Etobicoke to Scarborough and North York to the downtown core. Arts in the Parks is an initiative of the Toronto Arts Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council, being presented in partnership with the City of Toronto and Park People.

CultureLink had met with Arts in the Parks representatives in March to discuss a potential partnership in March of this year, and we agreed to collaborate for the Toronto Bicycle Music Fest on September 10. Since there was quite a long gap between then and the event, out of curiosity, I decided to volunteer myself. I had heard about Arts in the Parks before and had assumed that it is only for artists and art enthusiasts. How wrong was I!

Personally, I volunteered for several events over the summer. One of the events that stood out to me was, by Cajuca Mas Arts Producers. It was a lively performance depicting traditional carnival costumes, characters, music, drumming and narration! I also enjoyed a Ukulele lesson from K Funk and Lady Ree at the volunteer appreciation party. This experience has given me the opportunity to explore a whole new side of Toronto… and there’s more to discover (for FREE!)…

The Toronto Bicycle Music Fest was held on September 10th. People gathered on bicycles at Trinity Bellwoods Park and rode together to Humber Bay West Park. Here, various local artists performed throughout the late afternoon with peddle-powered equipment with lots of people from the audience peddling to keep the music going! CultureLink organized members of our Bike Host program to serve as Event Ambassadors. Event Ambassadors support the Arts in the Parks staff before, after, and during the event. The Ambassadors also have a chance to enjoy the event in between or after their shifts. This experience also brought great exposure of Toronto’s local art especially to the newcomer participants of the Bike Host group.

These events are celebrations worth attending no matter who you are, but especially if you are a newcomer and want to know more about the local culture and artists; just look outside your window and see what’s happening in your neighbourhood park!

By Rubeen Chauhan
Pictures by Rubeen Chauhan, Katie Wittman and Vishal Prajapati