Let’s go to the hop

Youth participation in the cultural landscape of Toronto

Julius Poncelet Manapul, Balikbayan Bakla Maya, Koffler Gallery, 2016. Photo: Connie Tsang

In the busy lives we all seem to lead, it can be rare to find some downtime. When one does however, so often the go-to options are to surf the web, review one’s social media sites or the increasingly popular binge-watch. Less popular, is hearing a friend or colleague recount their visit to a cultural event or art gallery visit. The Canadian Art Foundation doesn’t want this latter tradition lost and therefore strives hard to offer a wide variety of programs that focus on introducing or keeping people connected with the arts and artists in Canada.

The foundation supports this concept by publishing Canadian Art and canadianart.ca, a platform for journalism and criticism about art and culture in Canada, and also through offering innovative events and educational programs. These programs are meant to engage audiences nationwide and address urgent and evolving issues through the lens of contemporary art and culture.

One of those programs, School Hop, is a youth initiative aimed at providing education and outreach to Toronto’s secondary-school students. In the face of reduced funding for extracurricular activities and diminished focus on art education in public schools, this free half-day program offers a unique opportunity for a younger generation to participate in the cultural landscape
of Toronto.

Since 2003, this semi-annual program has hosted an ever-increasing number of students at Toronto studios and galleries on tours led by local artists and curators. The program provides free bus transportation, and pays for artists and curators to lead discussions with students.

In this program, participating students are exposed to different artistic practices from diverse cultural backgrounds. They visit commercial galleries, artist studios and artist-run spaces, and they meet professional artists and curators. The program encourages a free exchange of ideas about art, culture and society, and it establishes a historical context for approaching contemporary art practices.

School Hop gives priority and vital program access to the most underprivileged schools in the region, with more than half of the participating Greater Toronto Area schools coming from low-income neighbourhoods or including at-risk youth. Through continuous feedback from teachers and galleries, School Hop is constantly improving the program, its accessibility and its ability to meet crucial needs of the community.

To register your class for a School Hop, you can fill out the online registration on the website at canadianart.ca/school-hop. For more information, please email Emma Gaudio at emma@canadianart.ca or call her at 416.368.8854 x 102.

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