SKETCH creates space, opportunities and creative community, prioritizing access and equity with diverse young people, to:
Outcomes: Positive development in Wellbeing, Skills and Connections ultimately leading to increased Resilience and overall Capacity needed to live well and lead.
This quarter marks the first full year of program and organizational operation at Artscape Youngplace. We are finishing 2015 with participation from over 870 young people, in over 7740 visits to our activities. We are projecting to end the year with a small surplus. Spending has been frugal and our systems are being further refined for efficiency and accountability. The new Theory of Change gives our organization focus and strong management positions SKETCH well as we enter our 20th year of existence in 2016.
This quarter saw 2427 visits by 372 individual young people to all SKETCH programs, 199 youth were completely new:
• 545 visits in Arts ENGAGE
• 634 in Arts INCUBATE
• 1248 in Arts PLATFORM
This is the largest participation, in frequency of visits that SKETCH has seen in any quarter since its King Street space in 2011. This steady growth is the result of a strong and effective program framework grounded in the Theory of Change, with an exciting roster of programs in a wide variety of arts media led by skilled and well-trained facilitators; and the integration of accessible opportunities for income generation and arts career development.
An all-facilitator Training resulted in a group of arts facilitators, volunteers and placements becoming more familiar with SKETCH’s programming and equity frameworks. The growth of participant visits did however increase pressures on program resources and infrastructure: tokens and food are at premium, materials are in steady use, and some programs are at capacity. Concerns expressed are: maxed out materials budgets, fewer tokens for increasing numbers of youth, inability to feed everyone, and the need for more supports for a greater number of facilitators. The team is requesting more transportation support for 2016.
This Fall session marked one full year of a full roster of programs since moving into Artscape Youngplace, and in that time a community of regularly returning youth is forming. Youth are building relationships with each other to build friendships, share skills and collaborate on projects. Because key elements the program offerings are offered each season, youth are building strong rapport with many facilitators, and also benefit from the presence of guest artists who facilitate only for one session.
SKETCH has demonstrated a clear commitment to Equity by developing specific strategies to engage a broader diversity of youth communities. Youth see their identities validated. SKETCH continues to partner with community agencies and youth led projects, that specifically engaged and developed relationships with queer youth, racialized and First Nations youth. Over 80 youth participated in such intentional partnership with SKETCH and SOY, Krafty Queers, ODE, Weave, and Lifted by Purpose.
NOTE: 253 participants filled out the demographics information
ARTS ENGAGE – creative discovery
Community mealtimes facilitate deep community building and space for making connections. Youth who arrive presenting as agitated are eventually presenting as soothed through sharing a cuppa tea and a warm meal; youth who find it difficult to connect with others are able to build relationships through something as simple as talking about what’s on the menu. One youth with difficulty trusting men has built a strong rapport with male culinary staff – a huge celebration. Meals together enabled that to happen.
It is evident that Culinary Arts in food provision, plays an important role in early engagement attracting many youth that are being supported to bridge into arts workshops. The increased meal numbers posed a challenge for the Culinary staff to meet demand. Strategies to support increased demand include additional HR support and more efficient protocols. This will enable increased focus on the skill development components in Culinary Arts in 2016.
Skills and Wellbeing:
Easy-to-Engage programming was launched this quarter increasing youths’ skills and capacities through light-touch creative arts discovery. Many Easy-E workshops had a self-care element, or were part of the HOP-C research project (Housing Outreach Program Collaborative): sharing mindful moments at the living wall, baking cookies and a spa series (lip balms, salves and teas). Others sparked interest in a specific arts medium, and then connected youth with further skill building in INCUBATE workshops: wandering impromptu guitar jams inspire youth to try the guitar lessons; poetry games encourage youth to join creative writing; drawing on the tables bridges youth into visual art sessions.
A strong program team, and in particular a well-trained hosting team, fosters healthy relationships between SKETCH youth and the peers and adults who animate program. In the program evaluation, the program team spoke of how SKETCH can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for new, hard-to-reach or socially isolated youth. The facilitators stressed the importance of Hosts (volunteers and placements) in providing individualized support to high-needs youth to navigate SKETCH’s varied offerings, build relationships and bridge to participating in workshops. SKETCH’s newly developed Facilitation Training means the team is better prepared to build rapport and inspire relationships with youth, and connect them to INCUBATE activities. These hosts also provide wrap-around support by giving referrals to youth, ensuring that their basic needs are being met. In 2016, the program team will be updating the resource binder and facilitating trainings in how to give a good referral.
Youth developed healthy connections with peers and adults in the HOP-C research project, which explores how multi-sector wrap-around supports (housing, mental health supports, and community arts) can together help newly-housed youth stay housed. This project is proving very successful at engaging hard-to-reach youth: partner organizations work very closely together, making personalized referrals across agencies.
Outreach and Partnerships:
ARTS INCUBATE –skills, ideas, self and collaboration
Many INCUBATE programs have an explicit focus on wellness and building skills in self-care: Living Well in Toronto, Lifted by Purpose, Yoga and Kung Fu workshops. Youth explore an art form (craft, music appreciation and movement) while explicitly discussing how to use the arts to bolster mental, physical, and emotional wellness. For example, Lifted by Purpose (a youth led initiative on SKETCH’s platform) engaged racialized youth involved in the justice system. They selected songs around a particular theme, used specialized equipment to monitor the biological indicators of stress, then examined how different songs impacted their stress levels. They then shared strategies around stress management, coping, and life skills.
The wellness-oriented INCUBATE programs saw uneven attendance but they did get considerable praise from youth: youth in Lifted spoke highly about its impact; youth in Kung Fu spoke freely about how it increased their feelings of security and wellbeing; Living Well provided a focal point for discussions around accessing housing, creativity, and other topics, that will eventually release a compilation of ideas and resources in the spring as a zine.
The programs in which youth built the strongest skills in artistic process and production were Silkscreening, Sonic Jam, Music Recording, Street Voices (creative writing and spoken word), and Vocal Revolution. Sonic Jam partnered with the Visual Arts to lead a workshop called “Beats and Beets”, mixing culinary and audio arts – a great way to experiment with innovative and diverse art forms, and link youth between program offerings. SKETCH partnered with ODE (another youth led project on our platform) to host 8 First Nations youth in silkscreening every two weeks to make prints, t-shirts and accessories sold at the Open Studio holiday sale.
Peer-led facilitation increases the peer leader’s competency while passing expert skill along to youth – a critical part of SKETCH’s programming model. The programs that supported the greatest attendance and capacity building were those with a consistent facilitator – often a youth or paid facilitator. Certain programs were not able to achieve strong momentum, often due to lack of a consistent person animating them. While volunteer support is a huge boon, some arts mediums simply require more consistent animation to be successful. A major gap was in Visual Arts, where a few wonderful volunteers tried their best but struggled to engage large numbers in a consistent way. A new Visual Arts Associate Artist will be hired in 2016.
Connections – were developed through building strong and supportive bonds with the peer and adult facilitators, and through making art alongside each other, building and sharing skills through co-learning. In the Program Evaluation, several people reported instances where new or high-needs youth entered program “with evident doubts on their face” or other expressions of disconnection; but the facilitators were skilled enough to fold them smoothly into an inspiring activity, shifting them into a mode of inspiration, excitement and deep engagement.
Wellbeing: All PLATFORM activities do substantial work to support wellness, in particular through one to one mentorship (CA program, Art Hustle sessions, Independent Studio, Weave, CUE and other organizational and project mentorships). Much of the mentorship supported youth to articulate, document, plan and implement their own goals – such as applying for grants, exhibiting their work, starting an initiative, etc. – while providing emotional support as they pursue these opportunities. Marginalized youth – even those with incredible skills, vision and drive – continue face myriad life challenges: racism, transphobia, illness, poverty, mental health, addiction, the after-effects of trauma, violence, precarious housing, and more. As such, they continue to need mentorship and emotional supports even once they arrive at the PLATFORM stage of their time at SKETCH.
Skills and Capacity:
Indie Studio – New skills for self-care; using the PLATFORM to improve their circumstances (through making an income through the arts, or connecting with exciting opportunities) in preparation to launch, primarily in their art skills and core work skills, through Independent Studio. Indie Studio successfully provided time and extra studio access for youth to pursue their self-directed larger-scale or longer-term projects, developing bodies of work and learning about project management. Independent Studio is an innovative way to support youth to develop core employment skills (such as punctuality, planning, schedules, and the ability to work with others) – because they are learning these skills through an art project they are already invested in.
Community Artist leadership training program – 4 CAs participated in Art Hustle and Indie Studio, engaged in one to one mentorship, and working to build a strong CA team fueled by trust and accountability. Each CA either leads or supports a program area (Street Voices, Vocal Revolution, Visual Arts and Silkscreening) and spent the quarter planning series they will lead in 2016. Youth built capacity through the Art Hustle trainings in: Facilitating collaboration, Writing an artist bio, Self Care Skill Share, Web platforms for artists, Online artist profiles, Designing products for sale, Marketing, and Preparing your art for Showcase. Attendance was smaller this quarter, though some sessions – such as ‘artist bio’ and ‘online artist portfolio’ sessions – saw deep engagement.
The PLATFORM Coordinator undertook substantial research and program design around building a mentorship program; this began this quarter with a volunteer onsite to offer new media support for artist self-promotion (headshots, documenting artwork, making artist promo videos, etc) and a placement offering music promotional support (applying for grants, musician bios, etc). In future quarters, this will expand to include a network of mentors in a broader range of areas of expertise, and stronger program framework (such as a mentor orientation package).
Youth attended 49 times to vend or exhibit their artwork, perform or do public speaking, including at SKETCH’s Open Studio holiday sale and other public showcase opportunities. Two field trips: Ryerson Image Centre for a guided tour of a Weegee photography exhibit, led by former SKETCH CA Elle Alconcel; and Art for Social Change in Action Forum at OCADU and Ryerson.
Platform Collaborations – support and mentorship to youth leadership initiatives CUE, Weave, Lifted by Purpose, ODE, VOID Incubator, Street Voices, Krafty Queers, receiving mentorship from SKETCH Directors in applying for grants, financial management, program planning and implementation, outreach and evaluation.
CUE connected with 186 youth in the grant cycle conducted as part of Platform A, mentoring them to complete their self-directed art project applications. CUE undertook intensive outreach across the City of Toronto, leading info sessions and drop-in mentorship sessions at SKETCH as well as many other organizations, making their programming incredibly accessible and attracting very diverse youth. They received 77 applications (an increase of 54% – the highest turnout on record), and approved funding for 44 artists, totaling $29,275 in grants that will go directly into the hands of these artists who live and work on the margins. They also connected CUE artists with diverse opportunities, including SKETCH’s Indie Studio Program, which 5 CUE Writer’s Bursary recipients participated in. This was a good example of a simple, effective participant scaffolding system between CUE and SKETCH, one in which would be advantageous to expand upon in the future. Youth also received mentorship in publishing, applying to external funders (i.e. Ontario Arts Council), art critique, career strategizing, and personal support.
Weave (9-month project) reported feeling inspired and affirmed, and having developed a strong progression of skills in fibre art – felting, loom weaving, hair braiding, crochet, hooking and more. They built capacity as arts facilitators, learned how to launch creative enterprise or seek employment in the arts. They went on field trips to the Textile Museum and Bata Shoe Museum, to expand their influences and connection with the broader arts world. The combination of hands on art skills with community leadership skills such as program development, facilitation, crisis-management and anti-oppressive training provides youth with the skills to use their art practice as a community engagement tool. All the youth in this by-registration program identified as LGBTQ* and allies, the facilitators worked hard to create a safe space and successfully fostered a tight, trusting team, in which youth freely discussed shared experiences and the importance of community-building for queer youth.
Many youth spoke about how this reduced their sense of isolation and fear, and appreciated having access to trustworthy mentors. Many have expressed the support of the program has given them the tools to use their art for creative enterprise: some have taken their art practice more seriously now that they have structured plans and resources; others have developed business plans and restructured their art practice to become more sustainable. Several vended work at Open Studio, gaining experience building income and showcasing their talents. One participant felt so inspired that he formed a collective to document the particular stories of those in his community. This project will continue for another two quarters, with a greater focus on youth-led outreach sessions, exhibitions and facilitating community art projects.
Many of the most-attended workshops in the 4th quarter were peer-led: Silkscreening, Vocal Revolution, Street Voices, Krafty Queers, Sonic Lab, CUE and Weave. In Vocal Revolution, the youth facilitators are further developing their own facilitation skills through being mentored by the Music staff. Sonic Lab was led by a youth who has received mentorship and training through the music program, and is now leading these sessions. She is a skilled knowledgeable facilitator, and this program has seen high participation and deep engagement.
After the session the team conducted an All-Facilitator Evaluation session. In 2016 we will add a series of Youth Interviews and Focus Groups to gather further insight and track SKETCH’s impact in the lives of young people on the margins.
SpaceShare – connecting creative people to creative space Total Revenue 2015 = $45,000 in studio rentals. We have a steady increase in bookings already for 2016:
Enterprise Partnerships – fee for service workshops or classes in which SKETCH ppts can participate for free
Taste@SKETCH – catering biz in development
COMMUNICATIONS and DEVELOPMENT
FUNDRAISING and INDIVIDUAL GIVING