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Youth Arts Ambassadors Program

In 2016 Ontario Culture Days launched a new programming initiative, the Youth Arts Ambassadors Program (YAAP). Aimed at fostering and supporting the next generation of community-engaged artists in our province, YAAP commissions professional artists up to 30 years of age to create new works of art in their respective regions. The artworks and corresponding public programs are unveiled over the Culture Days weekend.

In addition to the presentation of the project, YAAP gives the public insight into the artist’s creative process through photos, video, writing and social media. This process is shared with the public throughout the duration of program.

Keep up with the developments of the Youth Arts Ambassadors’ projects by visiting this page, checking out our blog, Culture365, or by following the hashtag #YAAP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

YAAP is been generously supported by TD Bank Group.

Meet the 2018 YAAP Artists:

Hiba Abdallah, Toronto

Hiba Abdallah is a text-based artist who often works with others to develop public installations, projects and exhibitions about the narratives of place. Abdallah’s work cultivates a playful yet reverent sense of community that seeks to foster the collective public imagination.

As a part Nuit Blanche Toronto’s Scarborough exhibition, Abdallah will create a text and light-based installation on the side of the Scarborough Civic Centre, projecting stories she’s collected from Scarborough residents throughout her residency. Drawing from the oral accounts of an inter-generational group of Scarborough residents, Everything I Wanted to Tell You captures complex narratives of this community’s diversity, nuance and resilience.

For her participation in YAAP, Abdallah will be sharing with the public the process of creating her Nuit Blanche installation through social media posts, a blog interview and a public program.

Kay Kenney, Kingston

Originally from Kingston, Kay Kenney graduated from the Professional Contemporary Dance Program at The School of Dance (Ottawa) in 2012.  Since then, Kenney has collaborated in research and performance with Caroline Barrière, Cathy Kyle-Fenton, Sylvie Desrosiers/Dorsale Danse, Jocelyn Todd/Lawless Dance Co, Mayday Danse, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Andrea Nann/Dreamwalker Dance Co, and Dark Horse Dance Projects.

In 2016 Kenney successfully brought the first local full length contemporary dance production to Kingston and was the first local dance artist presented at The Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts in spring 2017. Most recently she directed and mentored the first local Contemporary Dance Series in Kingston, Movement Market/SERIES 2018 and continues to teach throughout the city.

For her YAAP project, Movement Market / DANCE as COMMUNITY, Kenney will organize two choreographic movement workshops and two performances. Featuring thirty volunteer community members with a passion for performance art, Movement Market will use dance as a medium for self-exploration, building towards a choreographed performance on the Culture Days weekend. Kenney's Culture Days program is being developed in partnership with the Kingston Arts Council.

Benjamin Murray, Thunder Bay

Benjamin Murray or Plan b strik9 - A name of which he allows others to make their own interpretations.

Murray has built a career in the music business, working with and producing for multiple platinum-selling artists while fostering initiatives in his own city of Thunder Bay. Murray was recently the recipient of the 2018 City of Thunder Bay Respect Award, created to recognize individuals, businesses and organizations that recognize human dignity and demonstrate leadership to foster respect for others.

As part of YAAP, Murray will be organizing a youth hip hop music project. Murray, who talks about his own need as a teen to find a creative outlet,  will be providing an opportunity for Thunder Bay youth to develop their own music through collaborative songwriting and music video production workshops. Beyond skill development, the goal of the sessions is to create opportunities for promoting self-esteem and resilience. The song and corresponding music video will be created in advance and premiered at a public program during the Culture Days weekend.

Photo Credits: Hiba Abdallah, Photo Credit: Rachel Willie; Kay Kenney, Photo Credit: Lisa Hebert; Benjamin Murray, Photo Credit: Sara Kanutski