MABELLEarts brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to make art, tell stories and creatively transform the place that is Mabelle – a high-density Toronto Community Housing complex in Central Etobicoke. For us, community arts is a collaborative process of creating culture with the hands, voices and dreams of everyday people. Together we talk, work, play, plant, tell, build, remember, think, sew, eat, celebrate, draw, sing and mourn, transforming indoor and outdoor, physical and conceptual, personal and collective spaces in and around Mabelle.
We reside in the Mabelle neighbourhood and work in partnership with local organizations to:
- Produce new works of art and transform Mabelle’s public spaces.
- Uncover and present the stories, themes and imagery of Mabelle, inspired by the people and cultures found there.
- Bring together artists, elders, writers, designers, meal-makers, seed planters, architects, performers, carpenters and others from Mabelle and other places.
- Create opportunities for people from Mabelle and beyond to explore and develop their creativity and civic engagement through ongoing workshops, events and paid employment.
- Welcome those who are most likely to be left out by offering free activities, food, childcare, transportation and translation.
- Offer professional artists and others to explore and develop their chosen practice in a community context under the guidance of skilled artists.
- Inspire a sense of connection to our creativity, each other, and the places we call home, through the creation of artwork, ceremonies and celebrations that revel in the beauty of the everyday.
MABELLEarts works directly with over 600 Mabelle residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds through our ongoing projects and events. Each year, we meet and welcome new tenants and find ways to include them in the life of MABELLEarts.
Our community events and symposia have drawn audiences of up to 300 composed of Etobicoke community members and residents from elsewhere in the GTA.
We also engage emerging and established artists from Toronto and from elsewhere in Canada. To date, 50 different artists from a range of disciplines and areas of expertise have facilitated community workshops, contributed input, consultation, original artwork and designs to our projects.
What People Are Saying
"Residents have transformed Mabelle Park with new benches, a bake oven, and a community garden, among other things. They have also imagined new ways to inhabit the space – and, by extension, the city – through ceremony, ritual, camp fires, and sleepovers. "
— Ian Malczewski, Read More
"[MABELLEarts] changed how I see communities. [...] It's like a fantasy world. With people crazier than your imagination. And they make these incredible things that you couldn't dream of, of maybe you could dream of, but they make it true."
— Sultan Syed, Community Leader
"Just as the space began to resemble a park, it had also become something much greater - the vibrant, beating heart of the community. It was something only residents themselves could have created."
— The Globe and Mail, Read More
"I lost my job in the recession [...] I went into bankruptcy. [...] I got my apartment, which I was very grateful for. But something was missing. Then I found the park across the street. I felt safe on that bench. And then I found all these people who were doing activities in the park."
— Lorraine DeGasperis, Community Leader, Read More
"The park has been gaining attention among park advocates as a model of how community engagement and art can lead to greater park stewardship and more creative spaces."
— Ian Malczewski, Read More
"Its kinda weird. This is the first neighbourhood I actually walk down the street and everybody is saying hi to me. A lot of people know me in this neighbourhood, from MABELLEarts. I never been in a neighbourhood where people know me like that. Walking down the street 'Hi! Hi!'"
— Pat Austin, Community Leader