Toronto Arts Foundation Launches Arts in the Parks Toolkit

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(Margo Charlton (Toronto Arts Council)) #1

On April 10th Toronto Arts Foundation, in partnership with Ontario Trillium Foundation, launched our Arts in the Parks Toolkit. This resource was created to support and encourage communities and municipalities to plan their own arts events in parks.

The toolkit is based on Toronto Arts Foundation’s experience with Arts in the Parks (AITP), a free, annual, summer-long program that brings arts events to more than 30 parks in every corner of Toronto. The initiative features, family-friendly events including outdoor theatre performances, music concerts, film nights, and workshops for kids and their families.

AITP is a strategic initiative of Toronto Arts Foundation in partnership with Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and Park People.

Our Arts in the Parks Toolkit takes the reader through all the steps needed to present arts in park settings: from envisioning the event to partnering and fundraising, and from crafting an outreach plan and communications strategy to how to evaluate the activity.

In putting the toolkit together, the Foundation research and evaluation team revisited three years of surveys from audience members, volunteers, artists, and community partners. Our evaluation results and tools are shared along with tips we gleaned from talking to our stakeholders. (If you’re interested in our 2018 evaluation report read our previous post on the discussion board here.)

Compiling information to go into the toolkit helped us reflect on Arts in the Parks and develop an appreciation for all the elements that go into making a program like this work. The dedication of volunteers; the community organizers who want to make arts accessible; and the artists who bring an amazing array of arts offerings designed to work in specific park settings.

We also looked outside Arts in the Parks and sourced a wide range of resources that can be accessed by clicking on boxes that reveal information about: volunteer management software, lists of evaluation resources, information on Park People - a national advocacy organization, accessibility guides, indigenous cultural protocols, and more.

At one point we became overwhelmed by all the information we had gathered and wondered how we could make this as user-friendly as possible. We worked with the design team at Trajectory to find a layout that would help the reader navigate the material and with our editor at crisp editorial to help us decide what was essential. Their focus kept us on track.

We hope Arts in the Parks toolkit will both inspire you and save you time searching for resources. When we look through the kit we are inspired by how much the arts have to offer communities. Programs like Arts in the Parks encourage people to explore their own creativity, enjoy parks in a new way, and enliven their neighbourhoods and their lives. Looking at the photos helps us remember our time spent in parks watching artists and audiences – the photos remind us of the energy, commitment and beauty that is possible when arts and parks meet.

The toolkit is available on the Toronto Arts Foundation website and the resources page of the Knowledge Centre.

Research and Impact Team, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council – Margo Charlton and Sally Nicholson. For more information about the toolkit contact Margo at margo@torontoartscouncil.org

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(Liz Forsberg) #3

Congrats @Charm and @Sally of the Toronto Arts Foundation on putting together such an incredible resource for communities across Ontario!

Many towns, rural areas & cities are thinking about how to create greater access to the arts and how to animate their local parks. This toolkit is an invaluable resource they can turn to for guidance and inspiration.

Have questions, comments or feedback about the toolkit? Thinking about organizing an arts in the parks event in your own community? We welcome you to tell us about it here or pose questions to the toolkit’s authors!

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