The Bridging Project unites Orton Park residents

A two-day community art intervention took place above and below the Lawrence Avenue East bridge, located east of Orton Park Road.

The Subtext Multi-Arts Festival, presented by The Bridging Project and other Scarborough community organizations, provided free art activities on Sept. 11 and 12.

The Scarborough Arts Council had the reins of all the artistic fundamentals of the event.

“This festival is a first-step process of turning the bridge back into a connector and working with the community to learn about why it is the way it is,” said Benedict Lopes, program coordinator with the Scarborough Arts Council. “We want the area to be represented as something positive, creative, laid-back and fun.”

The two-day event included activities such as graffiti, spoken word, and live dance and music.

“It was definitely a creative vibe,” Lopes said. “It was a very inclusive environment so anyone could come by and take part, either as an artist, an organization or an individual. It all melded together here and you saw a very artistic and creative component as well as a social community component throughout the whole weekend.”

The Bridging Project began when local residents voiced concerns that the Scarborough bridge was physically dividing the community in two.

“Instead of serving as a connector between the two sides, the bridge is quite a barrier,” Lopes said. “Residents aren’t crossing back and forth as easily as you would imagine, so it’s a barrier physically and socially. There’s a stigma about what takes place beneath the bridge as well.

“The festival is literally all about turning the bridge back into a bridge, connecting the two communities metaphorically and physically.”

Mayor David Miller and local councillors were among the guests supporting the event. Miller opened the festival by unveiling a large mural that spans the entire length of the bridge.

With the overall success of the festival, Lopes hopes it will become an annual event.

“It was a vision for a lot of people in the community,” he said. “To work out all the steps and all the kinks and to see it all come together is phenomenal. It exceeded our expectations with how well things came together, and it’s given us great hope for next year and more festivals.”