2019 Community Arts Award finalists

Celebrating three incredible artists who are making significant contributions to Toronto’s communities by creating access to the arts.

Woman with curly hair wearing a black dress with big colour ears and necklaceThe co-founder and director of Muse Arts, Paola Gomez is a human rights lawyer, community organizer, public speaker, artist facilitator, writer and dreamer. A member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile program, Paola is involved in causes such as ending violence against women and forced migration. Her work integrates the arts, community engagement and anti-oppressive frameworks. Paola is also the co-founder of Happening Multicultural Festival, where the works of newcomer, refugee and immigrant artists from diverse backgrounds take centre stage. Though Muse Arts, Paola has developed a cultural exchange in Latin America and the Caribbean and a micro-grant program to support community arts in rural regions of her native Colombia.

As a community leader, researcher and emerging curator, Paola has contributed to the access and visibility of other Latin American artists in the Toronto arts scene and also helped create spaces for women’s stories to be told.

Paola was part of Toronto Arts Council’s 2017 Leaders Lab and has won many awards for her work, including a 2016 City of Toronto Human Rights Award, a Toronto Community Foundation Vital People grant in 2008, and the Amina Malko Award from the Canadian Centre of Victims of Torture for her work in supporting refugee women in Canada. Paola currently teaches Applied Community Arts at Centennial College.


the person in this photo is wearing a black shirt with gold start and hands are placed in front of themSage Lovell is an artist, educator, and writer. Before moving to Toronto, Sage lived in Washington, D.C., where they attended Gallaudet University, the only post-secondary institution specifically designed to accommodate the needs of Deaf students. The experience made Sage realize that Deaf accessibility was more than 20 years behind in Canada. Sage returned to their roots and focused on advocacy, which led them into creating art as political statements. Since then, they’ve been working closely with various communities, developing meaningful work that continues to evolve, incorporating media, language, theatre, and accessibility into art. That multitude of experiences led Sage to found Deaf Spectrum, a collective established to promote the accessible usage of American Sign Language (ASL).


Black woman wearing a white necklaceCollette Murray is a dance performer, instructor, mentor, and cultural arts programmer. She holds a Sociology BA from University of Toronto, an Honours BA in Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity from York University, and a certificate in Anti-Racist Research and Practice. Also known as “Miss Coco,” her performance background includes traditional West African drum/dance and Caribbean folk dance. Engaged in the Caribbean and African arts for over 17 years, she was the 2013 recipient of the Canadian Dance Assembly’s I Love Community award and named a 2014 Role Model by the Black Canadian Awards. Collette’s mobile dance education business offers dance instruction and performance rooted in African and Caribbean experiences. She is also a contributing writer for The Dance Current and Dance Collection Danse. Currently, Collette is a MEd candidate at York University’s Faculty of Education, where her graduate research focuses on the successes and challenges of culturally responsive artists teaching in the Ontario education system.