Talent is shining in Scarborough’s youth.
“I was at a community centre and I was looking for a job … I saw a flyer for a music program and I decided to give it a shot,” Troy Beharry said.
Beharry, 23, is part of a Scarborough arts program called the EAST Project. The project is a collaborative initiative for local youth ages 16-24, aimed at creating a documentary and music video over an eight-month period. There are three parts the youth can participate in: music collective, project management and documentary collective.
Jen Fabico, the program coordinator, says the EAST Project has come a long way since it began in 2007.
“It started out at a very, very community-based level,” Fabico said. “We had younger kids [and] a boom box on the corner, we had these radio hits playing and they would sing over top of that … it was their way to get familiarized with music.”
“And then we evolved year after year … We’re opening it up to more than just vocalists, to instrumentalists, to producers to people of all sorts and that’s just the music collective alone,” Fabico said.
The program offers the youth skills in producing music, creating documentary films, using equipment and managing themselves as real artists.
“We’re not only trying to teach them how to be good artists, good managers, good documentarians,” Fabico said. “We’re also trying to show them that to succeed you have to be professional. You have to put your best foot forward.”
I’ve learned a lot in terms of marketing myself and developing myself as an artist
— Seth Dyer
Seth Dyer, 19, another participant of the EAST project, says the program gives youth opportunities and experiences they would not normally have.
“Scarborough arts and EAST has branched out my network,” Dyer said. “I’ve made a lot of good friends, had the chance to work in the most professional places available. I’ve learned a lot in terms of marketing myself and developing myself as an artist.”
“I feel like if I wasn’t involved with the Scarborough programs that I wouldn’t be the same.”
Both Beharry and Dyer do hope to pursue a future in music with the skills they have acquired, but more importantly, they want to make a difference using what they have learned.
“It’s so weird, it feels so good when you’re in the spotlight, but then even if you’re not in the spotlight and you’re helping someone to pursue their goals and their dreams it feels so amazing,” Beharry said.
“My intention with my music is not necessarily to be rich and powerful,” Dyer said. “I just want to be able to give back because I’ve been through a lot and I’ve seen a lot of people that haven’t had a lot and I want to be able to help that.”
Participants must audition to qualify. The program is free for all youth.