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Spotlighting Scarborough's long — and overlooked — tradition of artistic expression

Read my latest article about Scarborough's thriving arts and culture scene. Plus, get details about our first-ever Story Circle.

My first article inspired by the top-voted topic in our community poll, “Scarborough’s vibrant culture has never been a secret to insiders,” is officially out!

I’d gone into reporting this story thinking that perhaps Scarborough was experiencing some sort of artistic renaissance. But upon talking to a range of artists who call this Toronto suburb home, I quickly learned that they thought of themselves as part of a continuum instead. These artists were, in fact, drawing from a legacy of predecessors who had come before them. That said, there’s definitely a new sense of Scarborough pride these days — it came through in my conversations with the artists, making me appreciate the deep love they have for their hometown and the poetry with which they described their communities.

In my conversations with members of our Scarborough Discourse Facebook group, I received many suggestions for how I can cover arts and culture in the community, and hope to follow up on those ideas soon. In the meantime, please let me know what you think of my article; I welcome all feedback and tips. I’d also appreciate if you could pass on some Scarborough ❤️by sharing my article with your friends and family, and asking them to sign up for my newsletter.

Finally, The Discourse recently introduced our Ambassador Program, to help us get the word out about our journalism, and to start conversations about issues that matter to you and your community. If you’re interested in becoming a Scarborough Ambassador, please email my colleague Anita Li.

Spotlight

Alyssa Fearon curated Nuit Blanche Scarborough. She’s now the curator of the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.

 
Growing up in Scarborough, Alyssa Fearon has always been aware of the deep-rooted arts scene around her. So, when it came to curating Nuit Blanche Toronto’s inaugural Scarborough zone, Alyssa knew she had a large network of artists to tap into.

“Part of making that exhibition happen …  was for people to see this area through my eyes,” she told me. “The dominant perception is that there is nothing artistic or culture-wise happening in Scarborough. So, unless you are personally invested or tuned into the arts and culture scene, you base your understanding off of that dominant narrative.”

After the success of Nuit Blanche Scarborough, Alyssa moved to Brandon, Manitoba to serve as curator of the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba. But she intends to keep an eye on her hometown and its evolving cultural landscape.

Let’s meet up

  • Nov. 24. Viola Desmond Bill Exchange. Earlier this week, $10 banknotes commemorating Viola Desmond officially entered into circulation. Desmond’s refusal to abide by the segregated rules of a Nova Scotia theatre in 1946 made her a civil rights icon for many Canadians. She’s also the first Canadian woman to be featured on our currency. Gary Anandasangaree, MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park will host the bill exchange. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Taibu Community Health Centre.

  • Nov. 25. Scarborough Model Railroaders Train Show. All aboard — well, in theory! You can’t ride these freight and passenger trains with authentic steam and diesel sound effects, but you can admire the precision it took to build them. Perfect for children and kids at heart. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scarborough Model Railroad.

  • Nov. 27. Human Library at UTSC. Instead of reading books, check out some human stories at this University of Toronto at Scarborough event designed to create dialogue, promote understanding and reduce prejudice. Visitors can “borrow” human stories for up to 25 minutes; resulting conversations are meant to help borrowers challenge preconceived notions of race, class, gender, religion and sexuality. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Rex’s Den.

  • Dec. 1. The Nutcracker and More! A Family Holiday Concert. To celebrate this holiday season, the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra is bringing together local musical talents, including the Sistema Toronto Youth Choir and the Scarborough Philharmonic Women’s Choir. A 6:15 p.m. pre-concert will feature choirs performing with piano, followed by the orchestra’s performance at 7 p.m. The concert’s second half will feature the first act of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. 7 p.m. Scarborough Citadel

You’re invited

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, my colleague Anita Li and I will host our first Scarborough Discourse Story Circle. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Story Circles are intimate and informal gatherings, where community members take part in facilitated conversations. You don’t need to be an expert to attend. The idea is to share your lived experience and brainstorm solutions to issues confronting Scarborough residents. At our upcoming Story Circle, we’ll be discussing stereotypes, such as the perception of Scarborough being rife with crime, and how the media can better cover our community. RSVP here.

  • WHAT: Scarborough Discourse’s Story Circle
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • WHERE: McGregor Park Community Centre
  • COST: Free (food and drinks will be provided)

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