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We are delighted to announce the finalists for the Toronto Arts Council’s Neighbourhood Art Network’s Community Arts Award.

A $10,000 award, the Community Arts Award celebrates an artist that has made a significant contribution in Toronto by working with, in and for communities, while creating access and inclusion to arts and culture. Finalists are also awarded $1,000 each in recognition of their practice. The award is generously sponsored by MOD Developments.

“The past year has shown us the immense importance of community and the power of arts in bring communities together,” said Claire Hopkinson, Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Foundation. “All of these incredible finalists have played an extraordinary role in building a creative, equitable, and accessible city, and I as a Torontonian am indebted to their fantastic contribution.”

The award recipient will be announced along with the Indigenous Artist Award recipient at an in-person, invite-only event on October 27, 2021 at Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.

Naty Tremblay is a queer activist and community organizer, cyborg storyteller, arts educator-facilitator, artrepreneur, iconoclast and one-person band. They hail from a wee organic farm on Anishinabek three-fire confederacy & Haudenosaunee territory, Ontario. Creating socio-political mixed media and performative works as an independent artist and community collaborator, Naty weaves stories on the street and stages in Toronto Canada & internationally. Their creative pedagogy explores intersections of identity, passing, healing, social justice mobilizing, queer resistance, hybrid humanities, collaboration, and artistic acts of decolonization and love.

“Naty offers a new operating norm in our sector. They challenge how structures have been arranged and adopted that often leave power imbalances unchecked and can exclude people from all the benefits of participating in the arts. I feel strongly that Naty offers us a gracious and generous way to address fairness and intersectionality in our work, in our relationships, our arts infrastructure and most specifically in our arts aesthetics.” Naty’s nominator writes.

Ruben “Beny” Esguerra arrived as a child to Tkaronto from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents, who were receiving threats for their human rights activism. Today, he is a JUNO nominated multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. In 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award.

“Ruben is a diligent worker and source of ideas and enthusiasm in all endeavours with a deep sense of social responsibility. Ruben’s primary objective is to serve and preserve young community artists by promoting a culture of peace through music while building bridges across neighbourhoods, cultures and generations.” Ruben’s nominator writes.

Queen Kukoyi is a Black Bajan (Barbadian) of Nigerian ancestry, queer femme presenting, mother, author, educator, scholar, activist, and international artist as well as co-lead of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada. As a creative, Queen explores spoken word poetry, digital collage, and animations along with installation work that touches on concepts surrounding the Afrofuturistic meditative space. Queen’s artistic practice converges music, art, and sciences as performed and lived through intersectional Blackness.

“Queen Kukoyi is the type of human that if you ever crossed paths with her, you’d find yourself. She is the embodiment of the holistic leadership that Malcolm X, Assata Shakur and Martin Luther King Jr. have been marching and debating for! The love, passion and radical compassion to see us thrive makes me believe in a tomorrow!” Queen Kukoyi’s nominator writes.

Click here to learn more about the award and the finalists.

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