Courage Lab : How Are We Exploring Equity as Artists & Community Builders?

There is an exciting momentum in Toronto's arts community. Community arts practitioners are coming together to envision other ways of doing and being in the world. If we can work towards equity, even within a colonized context, we are recreating the narrative of colonialism, and courageously finding innovative and inclusive ways to practice art.

Over the last year, we have been working with SKETCH Working Arts on multi-year collaborative initiative focused on increasing equitable conditions and awareness in Toronto’s community arts sector while building on the dialogues that are already taking place throughout the community. We have created a series of events that create space to delve deeper into the many subjects that fall under the umbrella of 'equity.' One of which is our colonized context and the ways in which it impacts our work, communities and creative practices. 

Courage Lab image
Courage Lab photo by Fonna Seidu
On April 1, we will be presenting another installment of our Courage Lab series, an evening learning incubator with artists, organizers and activists exploring new concepts, ideas and tools around arts and equity. During our last planning meeting with the incredible folks at Sketch and AVNU, we found ourselves in a deep and critical discussion over the theme of the next Courage Lab: colonized contexts. We jumped head first into our own reflections of what this theme means to us individually and collectively. Our intersecting ideas gave us a clearer understanding of how to situate ourselves within the work we are doing.

"There is a real vulnerability for everyone doing this work." Ella Cooper, Neighbourhood Arts Network Manager stated, "Truth comes from it. Tears flow from it. Art expresses it and stronger commmunity grows from it."

Courage Lab : Neighbourhood Arts Network & Sketch Graphic Notes

In order to understand the impacts of colonialism in our communities and in our arts practices, we must first understand ourselves. 

At the next Courage Lab we will investigate some of the following questions through collaborative art making and discussion:

  • In which ways do our colonialized contexts affect the work we do and the way we navigate through this world?
  • How can we, create, re-create and reclaim within this context?


We hope you will join us for the next Courage Lab on April 1st at SKETCH studio, Artscape Yongeplace. Food will be provided!

Click here for more information

Article Written by Lishai Peel, Online Learning Coordinator, Neighbourhood Arts Network

Edited by Ella Cooper

Photography by Fonna Seidu & Ella Cooper. Taken at last Courage Lab & Planning Session Jan - Feb 2015.