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East End Spotlight is a monthly news piece where we highlight a series of east end artists, arts organizations, creative spaces & professionals that we want to shine a spotlight on💙!

For January 2022, we decided to do something a little bit different with our spotlight series! We’re kicking off the new year with Staff Spotlights, getting to know more about some of the people that make up the East End Arts team. 

  1. Tyler Andrews – Office and Outreach Coordinator
  2. Kimberley Dewing – Communications & Marketing Assistant
  3. Alex Milne – Doorstop Diaries Program Assistant
  4. To read more about Shana our Executive Director, Chelsea our Communications Manager, and Adam our Programming Coordinator, visit our 2021 Staff Spotlights page.

1. Tyler Andrews, Office and Outreach Coordinator

Name: Tyler Andrews

Tell us about your experience as an arts worker and/or artist:

Life as an arts worker is a constant mystery and a gift. You never go into a project realizing how much it will affect you until your waist deep in it, you have one second to breathe, and something or someone does something and you just have the wind knocked out of you. We work a lot in forms and written work and so the meaning behind something can get muddled until it’s actualized in front of you.

A perfect example of this was our Safety Dance program, which was an amazing bit of fun, but the full impact of it didn’t hit me until the end, when an older woman who had joined us with her friends that she hadn’t seen in awhile came up to me and said a little tearfully, “thank you for this. You have no idea how special this moment was for me to be able to do.”

Until that moment, this was just another fun project I got to work on to help connect the community, but the full impact, the joy, harmony, and importance of such an event didn’t hit me until the end. That’s the constant story of my life as an arts worker, and the reason I love doing what I do! We have an idea, we work to bring it to life, and we get to watch as people smile and laugh, and reconnect. Truly, it’s such an inspiring thing, and an enjoyable way to make a living.

What can you share about your creative upbringing?

I guess my love of the arts started when I was about 5 and I saw my brother come home with a print of a dragon he had made at school using a stencil, sponges, and acrylic paint. I remember thinking at the time (which is weird since I can’t remember what I ate yesterday) “that’s so cool!”

From there my love of art became intertwined with history as I grew up watching a show called Relic Hunter, and the idea of the arts from other cultures telling stories became such a fascination for me.

This then lead me to my Undergraduate Degree in Classical Studies, with a focus on Classica era Greek plays and the mythology that formed their basis. Stories of love and loss, beginnings and ends, and the wide range of feelings, told thousands of years ago that could still move us to tears today… I could go on for hours about Greek Mythos, but you’d be bored long before I ran out of steam.

After that, I found myself volunteering and then working for the greatest arts organization in my hometown, Beaux Arts Brampton, which is an artist run gallery that had just over 100 members who all worked to bring the visual arts to greater heights in the city. I fell in love with the dynamic of the team, and the mission of the organization, and at that point realized I’d happily spend my whole life working to bring the arts to people.

From there it was an easy jump into my Post-Grad program in Arts Administration and Cultural Management at Humber College, where I really dug into what it takes to be an arts worker, learning everything from grant writing to marketing and communications, finance and tax law, to cultural policy and planning, even dipping into emerging technologies!

 

Tell our readers a bit about your role at East End Arts, and your hopes/dreams for this organization in 2022:

I’m the Office and Outreach Coordinator! My role with East End Arts is a bit of a unicorn, but that’s okay because I’m a bit of a unicorn myself. I spend a lot of time sharing out things on social media that are happening in the east end, (not just our own programs, but all arts and culture happenings)! I’m also responsible for making sure people get paid (which is one of my favourite things), and I make sure that things run smoothly behind the scenes, creating surveys and reports, adding social programming to help keep people engaged, and helping out with keeping our programs running smoothly!

My hope for our team in 2022 is that we can put together a big event that enables us to see all of our lovely community members! I’m fairly new here still, and I’d love a chance to meet the people we serve, not only as a way to do my job better, but to really get to know the people of East Toronto a bit better, Covid-19 willing that is.

What are some upcoming arts events or initiatives you’re excited about?

I’m super excited for Nuit Blanche this year! I’ve actually never been, but I have wanted to go for ages. I’m hoping that Covid doesn’t stop it this year and that I will not only get to see all the amazing art installations, but also maybe be a part of some of the programming in East Toronto through East End Arts!

 

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I love martinis! The best way to end a day is with a martini: Gin, not vodka, no olive juice, but a dash of lemon juice, “shaken not stirred” (to quote that old line), hold the olives and replace with a lemon twist for garnish. I also have several liqueur mixes that I use for martini bases when I really want to spice things up!

2. Kimberley Dewing, Communications & Marketing Assistant

Name: Kimberley Dewing

Social Handle: Instagram @kviolets

Tell us about your experience as an arts worker and/or artist:

I’ve always been someone who is willing to jump headfirst into almost anything, which has led me to becoming a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. While my formal education is in Illustration, I’ve been digging my curious little fingers into everything from fibre arts to cosplay, from poetry to video game design ever since I was a kid. I get excited about new hobbies easily, swept up by a creative project or idea. And I love delving into whatever subculture surrounds that hobby, so when I throw myself into something I tend to really go all in. I want to know the people, the culture, the lingo, everything.

Until some new project catches my eye.

I’ve played at the idea of specializing; I think I have this idea that that’s how someone “makes it” in the arts. They get known for doing one thing particularly well and go viral, or people follow them for whatever that one thing is. But I just can’t do that, there’s no way. So, if you happen to check out my Instagram, you’ll find content as varied as I am. From hand-sewn tarot bags, to digital pet portrait illustrations, to resin jewellery filled with fresh pressed flowers.

I’ve come to realize that, through this tendency of mine, I’ve been able to meet a lot of amazing people, see from many different perspectives, and have some truly incredible experiences. And that lead me to becoming a writer. Now, t’m excited to hone a skill that can help other artists tell their stories!

You know, the stories that keep me diving headfirst into new projects and new hobbies time after time? Those ones.

What can you share about your creative upbringing?

I like to tell this story in a way that makes it seem like I sort of haphazardly and ungracefully tumbled into the arts. It goes something like: I was never really “the art kid” in high-school. It was just that, in the end, my grades were such that OCAD seemed the best and only real option. And I didn’t dislike making art.

But the reality is that I was always deeply imaginative as a child. I got teased for playing make-believe in the school yard even as my peers had long aged out of it, and I fought for my belief in Santa Claus even though I knew, well… you know (No Spoilers!). As I grew up I devoured stories, from reading a book until three in the morning to watching my parents play Ocarina of Time on the old N64. And I was always telling stories too, whether through writing, or games of make-believe, or drawing.

I think what really sent me on my path into the arts was that my high-school art teacher saw that creative spark in me. When I expressed interest art school, she really put in the extra time and effort to help me create a portfolio. I think having a mentor at that age was huge. It was immeasurably formative to have someone who nudged me in a direction and who took and interest in my success. Never underestimate the importance of mentors and being a mentor!

Tell our readers a bit about your role at East End Arts, and your hopes/dreams for this organization in 2022:

I started at East End Arts in August as a communications intern, fresh from the Professional Writing and Communications program at Humber. Now, I’m the freshly minted Communications and Marketing Assistant. I really can’t say enough about my experience at East End Arts, suffice to say I’ve learned a lot.

Day-to-day, I support our amazing Communications Manager, Chelsea, with anything from creating and posting content for social media, updating our website, working on the monthly newsletter, and so on.  More specifically, I manage the Artist Opportunities group on Facebook, researching and posting new and valuable opportunities for artists. I also put together the monthly Artist Spotlight section on our website and ensure those posts hit our social media feeds throughout the month.

As for hopes and dream for East End Arts… In the past year we’ve seen how hard a pandemic is on people, and how isolating it can be, but I’ve seen some amazing programs coming out of East End Arts, bringing people together and helping them stay connected. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of that as we forge ahead and through this pandemic, together. In particular, I’m excited to see what our recent partnership with Workman Arts brings, with an emphasis on programs that support mental health in our communities. I truly believe that bringing people together and creating connection is some of the most important work we could possibly be doing right now.

What are some upcoming arts events or initiatives you’re excited about?

I’m looking forward to the coming ArtworxTO, Year of Public Art. In my head, I picture public art pieces blooming into colour across our gray, construction-zone and condo-plagued city. It’s not so much the city’s initiative itself that excites me, but what artists and neighbourhoods will do with it.

In reference to my Fun Fact About Myself: there’s been some talk and work being put towards making circus arts & classes more equitable, accessible, and trauma-informed. Already in the past year some people in my community have put together low-barrier classes and workshops in this vein. These spaces have been intensely healing for me, and when I think about the thought and energy being put towards making these spaces for everyone and anyone, I get goosebumps.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I love to hang upside down in my spare time! I am a regular student at our local aerial arts gyms The Circus Fix and Artists’ Play. I’m recently back to training aerial hoop after a two-year hiatus. As a long-standing home for weirdos, queerfolk and oddballs, I can’t recommend circus enough, especially for anyone looking to feel empowered within their body.

3. Alex Milne, Doorstop Diaries Program Assistant

Name: Alex Milne

Social Handle: Instagram – @milnealexmilne

Tell us about your experience as an arts worker and/or artist:

I feel like when I think about my role in the arts I am always initially taken aback, because I don’t have an extensive history I suppose.

I started my journey in 2013 when I was accepted into the Visual and Digital arts program at Humber College. I then decided that I was very passionate about painting, I even had a few commissions while studying. While not really being an amazing traditional artist, I became very fascinated with abstract painting, and the use of digital painting programs as well.

After leaving Humber in 2015, I took time off to pursue love and family, but quickly got back on the education horse in 2017 as I planned out my portfolio to submit to OCAD University. I have always been fascinated with the possibilities of curation and really wanted to experience it. So, fast forward nearly 5 years and I’m here in my 4th year at OCAD about to finish up my BA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice.

During my third year at OCAD (2021) I entered into a placement program with the school and got paired with East End Arts. This was my very first taste of arts administration and programming. At this point being an intern in the industry was a dream come true, I was so keen to absorb all the information I could and be the best intern I could be. During the 4 months I was with East End Arts, I learned a mountain of information that I have found to be extremely valuable. I’ve found that this part of the arts sector, specifically in the non-profit, community-based part of the arts sector is extremely rewarding.

Let’s talk about the now; however, I’m working on multiple pieces, and I am also still studying but the constant in my life right now is the programs I have been so grateful to be a part of with East End Arts.

What can you share about your creative upbringing?

My parents are definitely not artistically inclined, but when I was a child I did spend quite a bit of time with my grandpa Bob who was an artist and musician. When I was a little girl I remember him taking me to the local greasy spoon and we would sit in there for hours, drawing on napkins and writing songs together. I guess you could say that I got my doodling skills from him. While growing up, I took piano lessons, vocal lessons, digital arts classes and visual art classes too, all through school. For a really long time I wanted to be a photographer, but I really loved the notion of painting and doodling. I always came back to these mediums, just like my grandfather and his father before him. As a teenager it became really important to me to be able to connect to my family through art. I was so proud that my ancestors were capable artists and I wanted to be just like them.

I may be a painter/programming consultant/curation student, but I also dabble in the art of automatic drawing. I typically stick with similar patterns of geometric shapes and sometimes add colour or different washes to the pieces. I pivot between an abstract painting style and this drawing tactic most often when creating work.

Tell our readers a bit about your role at East End Arts, and your hopes/dreams for this organization in 2022:

My primary role with East End Arts is being of assistance in facilitating the Doorstop Diaries program that has been running from July 2021 up until February 2022. This includes: the swapping of diaries every month (COVID permitting), corresponding with all participants, making sure all workshops each month run as smoothly as possible, and being tech/ participant/ artist support for every workshop.

My biggest hope for this program is that once we reach the end in February, we have a collection of diaries that reflect what it truly means to be an isolated senior in this pandemic, but also be a part of a very tight knit community that we’ve created over these past 6 months. I hope that all of these ladies continue to use all the skills that our amazing artists have given them, that they stay in contact with not only us, but with the other participants that have been on the same journey. This is an extremely personal project, I am sad to see it end, but the amount of dedication and work that has been put into these diaries begs an audience. I cannot wait to see where Doorstop Diaries takes us in 2022, but I just know it’s going to be something to talk about.

What are some upcoming arts events or initiatives you’re excited about?

With such uncertain times, it’s definitely hard to say what events will even be happening in the near future. I am hopeful about Nuit Blanche in 2022 as before this pandemic, I had gone several times and fully enjoyed the amazing work and the atmosphere.

Personally, I like to go to the movies a lot and watch new shows, films and listen to new music so I am hopeful that there will be some great shows and films coming out this year and new music to commute to.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I was a sea cadet throughout my teens and have been to multiple provinces and countries for different cadet programs I was involved with. I started when I was 12 and left when I turned 19. I would attend normally once a week but when I got up in the ranks I joined multiple teams, went to competitions, joined the band and even played the bells for a number of years. I learned a lot about leadership and survival skills that I sometimes use today (mostly fire building and knot tying). When I left the program, I was the rank of Chief Petty Officer second class and also the disciplinary petty officer. I didn’t pursue the military after leaving cadets because I wanted to be an artist. It was really tough being a teen, juggling school, cadets, arts and music and trying to have a social life but I wouldn’t change a thing, I have wonderful memories.

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