MYTORONTO is a photography contest and calendar project for individuals with lived experience of poverty and homelessness. The initiative is inspired by MyLondon, which was started by a UK-based social enterprise called Café Art, and then expanded to various cities around the world. This is the second year of the MYTORONTO Program presented by Ve’ahavta, a Jewish humanitarian agency serving marginalized individuals, in partnership with various community organizations. Funds for the program were raised by Ve’ahavta through the sponsorship of calendar pages and individual donations, as well as a crowdfunding campaign.
Creative skills workshops were facilitated for people with lived experience of poverty and homelessness at The 519 community centre. On May 10, a camera distribution day was held at The Ryerson School of Image Arts. One hundred and eleven participants were given 35mm single-use cameras, donated by Fujifilm. The participants were invited to capture what #STRENGTH meant to them in the City of Toronto and what inspired them. Ninety-three cameras were returned for processing and approximately 2,600
photographs were printed featuring shots of nature, architecture, Toronto iconography, living spaces, objects, animals, celebrations, street corners and people. The pictures illustrate the strength, beauty and joy that exist alongside the challenges associated with poverty and homelessness.
A jury of eight individuals with backgrounds in professional photography, community services, the arts, social servivces and homeless advocacy selected the 40 exhibit photos on display at Artscape Youngplace 2nd floor gallery. Thirteen of these have been chosen for the 2019 calendar and greeting cards, which will be sold on the streets and various venues by participants of the MYTORONTO Vendor Training program. Half of the vendor sales goes to the participants while the other half funds the program.
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