Living: Arts and Culture in Your Community

The City of Toronto offers a large number of arts and historical programs at cultural and community centers throughout the city.

Some programs give you a chance to experience the arts by presenting art shows, public art (permanent fixtures like sculptures) and heritage sites with artifacts and enriching presentations to tell you all about the history of the location.
Other programs give you a chance to get involved or enroll your children in art, dance and music courses - often with an opportunity to display your work.

There are cultural centers in every area of the city with The Guild and the Cedar Ridge and Neilson Park Creative Centres and Art Galleries to the east; the Assembly Hall, Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery and Franklin Carmichael Art Centre to the west; Zion Church Cultural Centre to the north; and the Market Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art downtown. All of these sites regularly present exhibitions and art shows and many offer adult's and children's courses and workshops.

There is usually something fun and informative going on at the heritage sites like Historic Fort York near the Ex, Todmorden Mills in East York and McKenzie House Museum downtown.

But the average Toronto resident will get more use out of the programs offered at your local community centre. There are 141 community centers in the City of Toronto (which includes North York, Etobicoke, East York and Scarborough). Most offer basic music courses in piano, guitar, drums and voice. Many offer dance courses in ballet, tap dancing, hip hop, latin dancing and even belly dancing. And a good number of community centers offer art courses - from drawing, sketching and painting to cartooning and stained glass. The City of Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation department delivers their Fun Guide in the spring and summer every year. This will tell you what courses are available in your area, where and when they offered and how much the courses cost. The courses that aren't free are available at very reasonable prices - usually under $50 and seldom more than $100 for six to 12 week courses.

The Fun Guide even gives you step-by-step registration instructions and works with Access Toronto to provide help in more than 10 languages.

To use the Access services call 416-338-0338.

The City of Toronto Access and Diversity Manager Ken Jeffers says, "No-fee programs are available through designated priority centers for people unable to afford the program fees." Ask the recreation staff at your local community centre for the priority centre closest to you. Fay Grange, a Program Standards and Development Officer for the Coordination and Community Engagement branch adds, "Paid programs at non-priority centres can be accessed by persons with financial difficulties through Welcome Policy membership." To apply for membership, pick up a Welcome Policy program application form at your nearest community centre or contact the Welcome Policy information line at 416-338-2000.

CNM