GTA Black Youth Empowerment Arts Competition to Ignite Change

Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Environics Institute Launch a Citywide Arts Competition

(Toronto, November 25, 2014) The Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Environics Institute are launching the 4th Wall Scratch & Mix Project: Empowering Black Youth Through the Arts Challenge by inviting youth aged 14-30 to submit artwork on a theme of “Empowering the Black Community.”

The Scratch & Mix Project is an interdisciplinary grassroots arts and research project. It uses the arts to make the invisible experiences of Black youth visible by raising awareness about and developing solutions to the challenges and opportunities faced in the Greater Toronto Area. It will include:

  • A GTA-wide Arts Competition inviting youth (aged 14-30) to submit proposals for artwork on the theme “Empowering the Black Community.” Ten jury-selected finalists will develop their work with seasoned mentors, visit a groundbreaking Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the AGO, receive $1,000 each and see their artwork displayed in a special AGO showcase. Proposals must be submitted by email to by Jan. 22, 2015. More details can be found here.
  • A Paid Internship Opportunity at the AGO for one student familiar with the GTA’s Black community who will conduct research, develop materials and help with project planning for the initiative. The application deadline is Nov. 30, 2014. Details may be found here.
  • A Scratch & Mix Project Exhibition, which will feature the artwork of the 10 finalists. Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the exhibition will be on view at the AGO from March 21 to June 2015;
  • A Black History Month Youth Solidarity Forum, on Feb. 28, 2015, at the AGO. Over 200 community members, youth, artists, and representatives of a variety of sectors such as health, business, urban planning, justice and community engagement. They will identify lasting solutions to issues of concern, which can be implemented through a youth-driven community action project and can inform the Environics Institute’s ongoing research on the Black community.
  • School Visits during which artist mentors will offer workshops exploring the themes in Puerto Rican and Haitian American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work and enable students to visit the AGO’s Basquiat exhibition.

The Scratch & Mix Project is the latest edition of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation’s national program, 4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible, which empowers marginalized youth to make their invisible experiences visible by showcasing their talents, experiences and transformative ideas in leading art galleries and museums across Canada. The project benefits from a unique partnership with the Environics Institute, through its Black Experience Project, which is working on the first-ever comprehensive survey of the diverse communities that make up the region’s Black population.

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For more information, please contact:

Peter Flegel
Director of Programs & Communications
Michaëlle Jean Foundation

Caitlin Coull
Communications Manager
Art Gallery of Ontario
416.979.6660 ext. 364

Desmond Miller
Project Coordinator
Environics Institute for Survey Research
About the 4th Wall Program
In theatre, the “fourth wall” is an imaginary screen that creates a virtual separation between actor and spectator. There are many ways to cross the fourth wall and to make the invisible visible. The Michaëlle Jean Foundation chose to do so through the 4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible program, in collaboration with several prestigious Canadian museums and art galleries. The goal is to invite young creators to break down the invisible walls that create solitudes between individuals and communities across Canada, by opening the doors of our major cultural institutions to emerging creators from marginalized backgrounds. The Foundation offers museum and art gallery space and bursaries to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, often cut off from museums, so that they can produce original art that conveys their experiences, ideas and challenges. On display for the public to see, their work provokes debate and builds solutions. 4th Wall exhibitions have been featured at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, to mark Black History Month in collaboration with FRO Foundation, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, to celebrate World Pride 2014, and at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, to raise awareness about young Canadians’ perspectives on justice.

About the Black Experience Project
The Environics Institute, in partnership with Ryerson’s Diversity Institute, the United Way of Greater Toronto, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto, is launching a ground-breaking research study focusing on the Black community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The purpose of this study is to conduct seminal research to better understand the lived experiences of individuals within this community, and the factors leading to their success and challenges. Project results are expected to provide a focal point for the Black community to better harness its assets and expand its successes broadly throughout the entire community. It will help the community build on strategies to move forward, and it will also help the broader community (e.g., community leaders, decision-makers, public) understand and appreciate the vibrancy of the Black community within their vicinity.
For more information visit:

About the Michaëlle Jean Foundation
The Michaëlle Jean Foundation supports youth arts initiatives that transform young lives and revitalize underserved communities across Canada. Through our programs, underprivileged youth are using their creativity to build new solutions to pressing social issues, like poverty, social exclusion and mental health. In so doing, they are catalyzing innovative community renewal projects, driving crucial Aboriginal cultural resurgence initiatives and kick-starting cutting-edge business ventures, all over the country. For more info:

About the Art Gallery of Ontario
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partner

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