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Nia AnnualReport 2009/2010

“A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom” -Claudia Jones

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Contents 004 Mission/Vision 005 Welcome 007 Our Philosophy 008 Governance 011 Space 015 Programs 018 Profile 021 Statement of Operations 022 Thank you Cover: Gabriella Parson, Dancer Nayo Sasaki-Picou, Pan Player and Dancer

Contributers: Layout: Noel Nanton for Typotherapy + Design. Content and design: Ian Kamau. Photography: Taejon Cupd and Nabil Shash Content: Nia Staff

Our Mission:

Nia Centre for the Arts is a community space focused on supporting the holistic advancement of afro-diasporic young people

Our Vision:

Nia Centre for the Arts aspires to be a collaborative arts centre that represents afro-diasporic arts and culture both locally and internationally, while working with young people through art to foster social change

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Nia Centre for the Arts A Message to Our Community

Welcome to Nia Centre for the Arts’ first annual report. Building on the numerous contributions of community arts visionaries and animators, from our research and development phase to the present, this report marks an important step in the growth of our organization. Our progress to date represents a portion of all the hard work of numerous volunteers, staff and community allies. For these passionate individuals, collectives and organizations we humbly give thanks. In the pages that follow you will find the details of our exciting evolution from arts consortium to legacy initative. In June of 2009, partnering with Community Microskills Development Centre as our trustee, we began operation with three staff and new office space. Since this time we have been expanding our horizions, consiousness and resiliency in our efforts to create a physical space dedicated to supporting the artistic and personal development of afro-diasporic young people. In this past year, we have partnered and worked with b current performing arts, Pathways to Education, Schools without Borders, Toronto Community Housing Corporation and several other organizations doing excellent work in the community. We also launched our Point of View pilot programming and developed a design Internship for a talented young person. Throughout this report you will be graced with the likes of Gabrielle, Muginga, Nayo Berhane and Quentin, all very talented young artists we respect. You will also meet Jerome Morgan, a passion young community leader and important contributor to our organizational development. These indivduals and many more are the reasons why the sucess of Nia Centre for the Arts is critical at this moment in time.

Nia Centre for the Arts staff

Nick Murray facilitating Nia Centre’s Point of View Creative Arts Workshop

Mark V. Campbell Felica Mings Nabil Shash

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Philosophy The Roots

At Nia Centre for the Arts we are interested in holisitic programming for Afrodiasporic young people. This means engaging our young people artisitically, politically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually to support the development of healthy identities and the pursuit of healthy life choices. Our mission to support the holisitic advancement of Afro-Diasporic young people involves both our guiding pillars and our core organizational values outlined below:

Our Pillars

Nia Centre’s philosophy and community pursuits are based on four guiding pillars; education & continous learning active citizenship artistic engagment community These notions guide and drive our engagement, our programming and our insitutional development. The all contribute to the building of a solid foundation for our organization.

Our Core Values

We realize as a community organization there are a variety of ways in which we can engage the community and our organizational partners. In addition, we know of the excellent work already happening in the community so we are invested in collaboration, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Without hesitation, our committment to serving our community means we embrace the following values: accessibility sustainability collaboration consultative (open source) transparency accountability creativity

Mungina M. Antonio, Photographer

Governance The Foundation


Governance is integral to any strong organization. Thus, the ability for Nia Centre for the Arts to develop an active structure to effectively govern the organization is essential for a smooth transition into an independent, efficient and sustainable organization.


In the last few years in Toronto there has been a major growth in the youth-led sector of community development. Young people are determining what they need and have been supporting the kinds of initiatives that they want to see develop. This change has not come without challenges. The balance between the ideas and passion of young people and the breadth of experience needed to support the process of their initiatives development is still being negotiated in the youth-led movement.


To achieve an effective and efficient governance strucuture that recognizes the value of creativity and inclusivity in the building of Nia Centre as a community arts space.


Over the course of the 2009-2010 fiscal year Nia Centre for the Arts researched and developed a governance structure based on the Community Engagement Model (Freiwirth, Judy, 2007 “Engagement Governance for System-Wide Decision Making� Non-Profit Quarterly) . Our desire is to develop an innovative, inclusive and dynamic governance model that takes into consideration the age of our organization, our youth-led orientation and our desire to remain connected to the community. The interim board from our research and development phase consisted mainly of artists and community workers originally brought together by the Youth Challenge Fund. These individuals stepped down as steering committee members preferring to focus thier talents around Nia Centre’s programming activites.

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Outcomes Development of a five member youth steering committee with youth serving on all committees The evolution of our steering committee into a board of directors Nia Centre has incorporated as a non-profit organization

Recommendations Capture and document the organization’s memory around governance Continue to support innovatative ways to support stakeholders and engage the community A dynamic committee structure that builds upon existing strengths and engages the community

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Space Development The Facility


The development of a community hub is the primary goal of Nia Centre for the Arts. The young people we consulted in our research and development phase spoke of their personal interests, their desire for creative space, what they envisioned in an arts facility and how long they would travel to get to such a place. Youth-led and grassroots organizations, as well as young people, all spoke of the need for youth-focused space where young people felt comfortable to fully express their individuality and their ideas creatively.


Both the City of Toronto and United Way have developed focused strategies for the creation of community hubs. Community hubs are spaces where a variety of different organizations and services come together in shared space for the benefit of the local community. Community hubs facilitate the need for multiple services in one place while allow orgainzation to cost-share and thus save money. Many of these spaces have been innovative in developing open space models, multipurpose and green space. Toronto has seen the development of many different community hubs and many new and innovative arts and community spaces created that are designed to be “open�. Open space refers to the way in which a space is developed using large spaces without walls or with glass, as opposed to dry wall, to increase the ability for people to see each other, interact, share social and work space and increase social interaction, sharing of ideas, building community, and increasing activity in a space. Similarly, multipurpose can be easily adapted into multiple uses increasing the ability for people to interact within a particular space in several ways thus increasing the usefulness of the space. It is a cost-effective alternative, especially for small, high Quentin Vercetty, Painter and Poet

Space Development Continued

traffic spaces. “Green” space is also a movement being supported by the City as well as a few funding organizations such as The Ontario Trillium Foundation. Green space refers to space created with the environment and physical health of the people in mind. Green space can also significantly reduce energy costs in the long term saving the organization money and greatly increasing sustainability.


To establish an innovative and sustainable Arts Centre, of approximately 8,00010,000 sqft. focused on the holistic advancement of Afro-Diasporic communities in Toronto and internationally.


During Nia Centre for the Arts’ first fiscal year Nia staff has been gathering information and developing criteria for the Nia Centre location. This is a summary of the space development report that has documented the details of the first year Nia Centre’s operations.


Nia Centre for the Arts requires 8,000-10,000 sq. ft. to become a community-arts hub with mixed-community, programming and office workspace focusing on AfroDiasporic people citywide (Toronto) and internationally. The centre will be a balance of open (public) multi-purpose and closed (private) dedicated office and resource space. Our capital funding is meant for public space within one of Toronto’s priority communities. Nia Centre has focused its efforts on north central spaces, such as Lawrence Heights, Eglington West (not a priority neighbourhood) and has also considered Scarborough since it is home to several priority neighbourhoods.

Space Research

Over the course of the 2009-2010 fiscal year Nia staff researched many arts and community spaces both in Toronto and in other cities thoughout the world. This research has lead to many innovative and interesting ideas from the practical reality of multi-purpose space to the reality that 10,000sq. ft. might not be enough physical space to support Nia Centre as an self-sustaining space or house all of the many things initially envisioned in the centre.

Outcomes Nia Centre has consulted with Artsbuild, the City of Toronto and CSI to develop a preliminary space report detailing all of the centre’s options. To ensure future sustainability of the Nia Centre’s facility the initial planning of a multi-pronged approach to income generation has begun.

012 足 013 足 Recommendations Partner with a public landlord and build a long-term sustainability strategy Develop a space development committee with the right kind of expertise on board Engage in a captial campaign as soon as the facility is identified Ensure community animation and involvement from visioning to completion Consult expertise around green space development and barrier free accessibility

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly� -Langston Hughes

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Programs & Partnerships The People


Programming and partnerships at Nia Centre are intimately connected. Nia Centre’s mission is “to support the holistic advancement of Afro-Diasporic people.” We achieve this mission through programming in partnership with organizations whose mandates align with and complement Nia Centre’s own core programming.


Partnership-oriented program delivery is a trend growing not only in youth focused programs but also in the creation of hubs thoughout the city. Shared resources (a form of partnership) in programs and space have enabled many organizations to save money and give participants and staff access to more services. The last few years has also seen a major rise in youth-led and participant driven programs opening the door for young people to learn and lead in tangible ways.


Nia Centre’s programming goal is to develop strong partnership-programs and core programming that meet the needs of the most marginalized Afro-diasporic young people in Toronto.


A core value of Nia Centre for the Arts is collaboration. Our approach to programming began with the premise of supporting programs and organizations that were already running programs that aligned with Nia Centre’s mission. We aim to support the development and expansion of existing community-arts work that focuses on the holistic development of young Afro-diasporic people. Nia Centre’s interest is in developing tools to organize, sustain and measure the impact of our programming while connecting with the communities that we wish to serve.

Najma & Donia at Summer Arts Photograph by Felicia Byron

Programming & partnerships Continued

Over the last year Nia Centre for the Arts’ programming staff has surveyed programs that support Afro-Diasporic young people through meeting with coordinators and participants and doing site visits to youth-led, arts-based programs to learn best practices. Nia Centre has connected with youth serving networks such as Lawrence Heights Youth Outreach Workers network and piloted 2 partnership programs; Summer Arts with b current performing arts and a dance and theatre workshop series in Pathways to Education’s grade ten mentorship program. In December of 2009 Nia piloted a scaled-down version of our core program. The Point of View creative arts workshops consisted of three sessions over three-weeks. Participants were exposed to creative ways of speaking about their communities, their identity and their life experiences. Professional artists were invited to facilitate sessions around storytelling and identity through spoken word, audio and video.


Community Event: Secrets of a Black Boy

In October 2009 Nia Centre partnered with nine youth-serving/youth-led organizations to have a meal together, meet and share in the experience of watching a theatre production written, directed and staring an African-Canadian team of artists. The young people also had the opportunity to meet the cast and crew and participate in a question and answer session with the cast.


Documentation: Pathways Mentorship Program Over a period of five weeks beginning in March 2009 Nia created an economic opportunity in the arts for a young person from Lawrence Heights named Taejon Cupid (an 18 year old participant of the Point of View program) to document through photography and video the Pathways mentorship program. Taejon took photographs and video of the program and edited the photos and videos.

Nia Branding/Design Internship

January 2010 Nia began its first internship pilot with Typotheraphy + Design to provide professional development opportunities for a young person to refine their skill in design and business. Dwayne Holness, a 22 year old graduate of Humber’s Multimedia Design and Production Technician program was chosen from more than seventy applications to be a part of this internship. The goal of the Internship was to support a talented young person in developing their skill in design and typography. Dwayne gained valuable technical and professional experience, support on pitching projects and developing ideas and hands-on experience in a professional graphic design studio.

Secrets of a Black Boy community field trip

016 足 017 足 Recommendations Outreach to participants through working with existing programs, and through referrals from youth outreach workers Orientation and mentorship for young people that are working with Nia Centre (volunteers and employed) Integrating evaluations into program sessions

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Profile Art/ists we feel Jerome Morgan

Jerome Morgan is a twenty-three year old psychology student at Ryerson University who lives in the Emery Village community of west Toronto (Finch and Weston Rd) with his five younger siblings and their mother. Jerome’s hardworking mother emigrated from Clarendon, Jamaica in 1991 raising her six children as a single mom. Jerome is the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend a post-secondary institution. Jerome and Asheda Dwyer (a masters student at York University) hold the distinction of being the first youth members of the Nia Centre for the Arts Steering Committee. The youth members are responsible for ensuring the voices of young people are represented, respected and their ideas/issues acted upon by developing the youth steering committee, a governing body that ensure Nia Centre remains youth-led. In addition to being a full-time student, supporting his family and volunteering at Nia Centre, Jerome was also the president of United Black Students at Ryerson (UBSR) for the 2009/2010 school year and continues to be actively involved. When asked why he does the work he does for his community Jerome responds, “I’m passionate about it; I’m inspired by history and where I come from.” United Black Students at Ryerson is a student group that represents the roughly six-hundred black students at the university through advocacy, activism and events, its role is to create an inclusive campus for black students at Ryerson. “I felt it was important to bring something different” Jerome reflects, “I wanted to connect people living in the hood to a university campus.” Jerome describes the connection between the university campus and what is often described as ‘lower income neighbourhoods’ as an uncommon experience for young people growing up in areas like his. This desire to bridge societal gaps while supporting cultural identity in university life lead him and the 2009/2010 executive team of UBSR to create the first annual Black Students Conference at Ryerson that concluded successfully on November 22, 2009 after months of hard work and three powerful days of activities. The conference pulled together black students from different provinces and created a platform for youth leaders. Ryerson University has recognized its value and has pledged to support the event again in 2010/2011.

Profile Continued

Jerome’s involvement in Nia Centre for the Arts began “because I felt it gave me a place were I could showcase my voice and connect with other young people who are not connected to the community of Nia.” Nia Centre for the Arts has not come without its challenges though. Jerome mentions the time commitment and having to take care of him self with the responsibilities of school and family can be overwhelming. He describes the need for strong mentorship in his role at Nia Centre, being a mentor and mentee in Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring program he has experience and ideas on how to make mentorship effective recognizing it as an important learning relationship for community building. “There wasn’t a lot of success around me” Jerome speaks of growing up and expresses a need for the type of mentorship that “recognizes where I’m from, where I’m at and where I’m trying to go.” When asked about the potential of Nia Centre for the Arts Jerome replies “Art has the power to create better people, a better society” and expresses hope that Nia will be “a loving space for black youth and black community members to be able to walk in and feel like they are at home” we share his dream.

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Statement of Operations Year end April 2010

REVENUE Provincial Funding Program Grants

371,544 9,000


380, 544

EXPENSES Personnel Reciever General Program Expenses Space Administrative Expenses Marketing & Development Expenses Capital Purchases TOTAL EXPENSES EXCESS OF REVENUE

173, 407 12, 294 16,844 8,055 120,087 6,280 8,076 345,043 35, 501

Thank you Art/ists we feel

to all of our volunteers,partners and supporters.

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Berhane, Drummer

“The artist cannot stay in the past nor even entirely inhabit the present; his concern is to go towards and to help create the imposible which is tomorrow � -Sylvia Wynter

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Nia Centre for the Arts Annual Report  

Nia Centre for the Arts Annual Report