On Sunday August 26th, the Bathurst Manor Action Group held its second annual Art in Chapley Park event. The copious talent and pleasant weather generated a large turnout to musical performances and workshops put on by local artists. Although we can’t confirm, we know several adults jumped on the trampoline while the camera wasn’t rolling. All kidding aside, The Downsview Advocate spoke over the phone with the event’s Founder and Artistic Director Michael Anthony, to learn more about how the event unfolded. Michael is also a teacher, an activist in North York and the Lead Organizer of the Bathurst Manor Action Group. Here’s what he told us:
DA – This is the second successful Art in Chapley Park festival. Give us some background: How did Art in Chapley Park come about last year?
Michael- A few years ago a few community members noticed that in Chapley Park there seemed to be enough programming around sports but not much for artists. So, we wanted to start something to showcase artists and get kids involved. We started by running free Concerts in Chapley Park with Carl Berger, and have run three of those, so far. People loved it, so, to expand on this idea, I created Art in Chapley Park.
DA – We had some interesting names for bands that performed at the festival – Sonshine and Broccoli, and Old Boyfriends to name a few. Tell us about some of those performances last Sunday.
Michael- Sonshine and Broccoli are well known children’s entertainers across Canada. They are really wonderful at what they do. The children definitely enjoy them. And they always invite the kids on stage to participate. Old Boyfriends are a group of Toronto area musicians. When I contacted the drummer Joe Wilson about this event he reached out to his band members and they were all very excited to join us and volunteer their time to liven up the program in ways that only Old Boyfriends can.
DA – We don’t always hear about glass-blowing but one of the artists is famous for this. Can you tell us about that?
Michael- Yes actually. Melani Davis is a professional glass artist. This is her second time at Art in Chapley Park. She works with kids on how to design glass pieces, walking them through each step. They did a glass-blowing demonstration where the kids saw their design go all the way to the finished product. The kids’ designs were really fantastic.
DA – What was the biggest highlight of the festival for you?
Michael- There were many! I love seeing the kids create art. Normally when kids are given the opportunity to paint it is often on paper. But this time the kids were all painting on aisles and on proper canvasses that they could take home and frame. They were all very colourful and interesting pieces. The kids were actually seeing themselves as artists. For the second time the kids also made a large life- size canvass that will be hung in the Chapley Community Centre.
Also, this event gave a place for young artists to display their work for a first time. Seth Morris, a 7 year old phenom, had his work on display and for sale. His stuff is absolutely amazing! We also had Priya Rastoogi, a 13 year old artistic photographer with her work on display, and the photos she takes of nature are absolutely breathtaking. Providing these real opportunities to our youth is what it’s all about!
DA – Downtown community art festivals and cultural events are numerous, well advertised and well-funded. What do you want to see in the coming months or year in terms of support for cultural events and festivals in Bathurst Manor?
Michael- We sit just outside of a City of Toronto priority neighbourhood. Priority neighbourhoods get access to arts and cultural funding from different levels of government. But our neighbourhood does not. We are not able to apply for any grants with any art or cultural organization run through the government or through any arms length organizations connected to a governmental body. There should be funding available for all neighbourhoods to be able to develop arts and cultural programming and events. Support from our MP Michael Levitt and City Councillor James Pasternak is something we’ve always appreciated. They have helped out and supported this community initiative since day one, but we need more official, institutional support. We also love to partner with companies in the private sector.
We’d also like to get funding and support for more indoor events and winter events for arts and music. Finally we would also like to tap into community artists and volunteers from high school. They can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at 416-554-7962
DA – Was there any individual, local organization (s) or business (s) in particular that you wanted to thank for helping Art in Chapley Park become so successful?
Michael- Yes, there were many organizations and businesses that helped make this event a success. They include: North York Arts, The Dewji family who are the owners of Mr. Lube at the corner of Dufferin and Steeles, Carl Berger a musician with Music for Munchkins, local real estate agent Marcy Koifman, Attitude Print and Design, Darchei Noam, Just Bounce trampoline club, Thrive Kids, Vibe Dance Studio and Wow Digital.