Raising awareness about local arts

East Scarborough can become a hub for local artists in the future if the right steps are made, says a local supporter.

What those steps should be will be open for discussion on Dec. 1 and 8 when the Scarborough Arts Council hosts a two-part panel discussion called The New Art of Suburbia.


They will discuss changes in Toronto’s suburban neighbourhoods and its impact on arts and culture.

Three local experts make up the panel — a live to podcast taping available on the Internet for people who are unable to make it to the event.

“It’s about raising awareness about communities like Malvern,” says Tim Whalley, executive director of the Scarborough Arts Council.

He says the series is a response to an increased interest about arts and culture within the community.

Whalley also says the media has started to depict suburban areas as “somewhere where you can partake in the arts and be supportive.”

Perhaps so, but not right now, says a local musician.

From Ruins, photo courtesy of Sebastian Biega.
From Ruins, photo courtesy of Sebastian Biega.

“Scarborough is not the best place to spread the word about your talent. Toronto is the only city close to us that has a wide variety of culture and appreciation for the arts,” says the lead singer of death metal band From Ruins.

With all his band mates being under the legal drinking age, the 18-year-old musician says they have a hard time finding places to perform.

“There is a huge lack of venues for local bands to put on shows,” says Biega. “The only venues consist of a few local bars, but you have to be 19 or older to not only attend the show, but to even play in it.”

He says the other problem artists face is a lack of promotional help.

“Even if a gig is scheduled in the neighbourhood, good luck getting the word out,” Biega says.

“Word of mouth is only so strong. We lack places where people can hang out and check up on local gigs, new talent, and discuss music.”

Whalley says one of the main objectives of the discussion will be to raise awareness about the lack of support in some of these communities and to build bridges between suburban areas across the city.

“There is a strong sense of identity and community, but are there the programs and support venues to support it?”

He says with 600,000 people living in Scarborough, arts should be more accessible to residents.

“It’s a long way to go downtown, so why is there not more going on in a suburban area like east Scarborough?”

These questions are on the agenda for the panel to discuss.

Whalley says he hopes the series will be a launching pad for other opportunities where members of the community can further discusses the issue of arts.

The series will take place at 7 p.m, Dec. 1 and 8, at Centennial College Residence and Conference Centre, 940 Progress Avenue.

Audience members will have a chance to participate in an open forum after the panel discussion.