Arts Etobicoke's 35th Anniversary cake.

Established in 1973, Arts Etobicoke is a membership-based organization that grew from the desire of arts organizations in Etobicoke to work cooperatively to achieve a number of common objectives. From 13 groups in 1973, Arts Etobicoke today represents over 50 arts and cultural organizations from all disciplines in the community.

Over the past 4 decades Arts Etobicoke's role has changed and evolved, as local arts groups became more sophisticated and public demand for arts activities and opportunities increased. Today Arts Etobicoke has a greater focus on community arts development initiatives designed to address gaps in programming, target specific audiences or underserved communities such as North Etobicoke, and developing future audiences and artists through arts education activities.

A permanent secretariat was established in 1973, with an Executive Director and Administrative Manager. In 2004, Christine McIvor, Executive Director for 25 years, retired from the organization. Louise Garfield, an experienced arts administrator and artist with a background in film and television production, theatre, and dance became the new Executive Director.


  • 1973 - Etobicoke Performing Arts Council became Arts Etobicoke; a 20 member Board of Directors is elected

  • 1978 - Christine McIvor is appointed Executive Director

  • 1980 - Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts is established annually by Arts Etobicoke

  • 1981 - Annual Juried Art Show is established

  • 1985 - Corporate Art Rental and Sales service is established (now called Art Rental Toronto)

  • 1988 - Annual Student Art Show "Introspections" (now called EDGE: Youth Art Show) for GTA youth begins

  • 1991 - Autumn Artsfest kicks off inaugural year

  • 1995 - Arts Discovery program is launched with Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic School Board in elementary schools

  • 1999 - Presidents' Legacy Scholarship Fund is established with Ontario Arts Foundation Endowment Fund providing 16 arts scholarships to youth

  • 2002 - Full Circle Poetry Contest with Scarborough Arts Council and Lakeshore Arts begins collaboration

  • 2002 - Props Theatre project debuts at North Albion Collegiate Institute with Expect Theatre at the helm

  • 2003 - Arts Etobicoke sponsors Exploring Creativity in Depth workshops with The Milkweed Collective beginning an ongoing collaboration

  • 2004 - Christine McIvor, Executive Director for over 25 years, retires from the organization

  • 2004 - Louise Garfield is appointed new Executive Director

  • 2004 - Toronto West Youth Short Film and Video Project is launched

  • 2005 - Arts Etobicoke moves to Storefront Gallery location in heart of Islington Village; makes major donation of archival material to City of Toronto Archives

  • 2006 - urbanNOISE, a training program and festival for at-risk youth in Rexdale is launched in collaboration with Expect Theatre
  • 2006 - Gallery Exhibitions begin for community arts organizations and member groups in our Storefront Gallery
  • 2007 - Saturday Storefront Art Classes are launched for all ages

  • 2007 - From 3 to 3, a multi-cultural literacy program for young children is supported through the University of Toronto Centre for Community Partnerships

  • 2008 - 35th Anniversary is celebrated with a garden party at Montgomery's Inn. Take a look at our 35th Anniversary Program.

  • 2009 - Art on the Move, a mobile art project is launched in collaboration with sister organization, Lakeshore Arts
  • 2009 - Expanded Storefront Gallery to accomodate growth in programming and staff
  • 2010 - Art Alley, a poetry mural with original poem by Toronto's Poet Laureate Dionne Brand is created under the banner of Amnesty International's Project: Urban Canvas
  • 2010 - AMPLIFY! an arts education model for Youth Without Shelter begins
  • 2010 - After-School Arts Drop-In led by artist/educator Faten Toubasi begin in our Storefront Gallery for youth 10-18
  • 2010 - Partnered with City of Toronto on Celebrate 27 Arts Fest and honoured Earla Alexander as one of the City's Cultural Champions
  • 2011 - Queer Media Arts Project (QMAP) a peer guided arts education and training program for North Etobicoke LGBTQ youth begins
  • 2013 - Arts Etobicoke celebrates its 40th anniversary
  • 2013 - Everyone. Everywhere. Human Rights Mural with Amnesty International and Creative Village Studios is completed
  • 2013 - Luminato partners with Arts Etobicoke and Lakeshore Arts on an Art On The Move vehicle, beginning an ongoing partnership for subsequent Luminato Festivals
  • 2014 - After-School Arts Drop-In expands to 2 days and now includes youth 6-18
  • 2014 - Beats + Intentions, a professional training program for emerging youth performing artists, led by Expect Theatre, begins
  • 2014 - Arts Etobicoke expands its staff to include an additional Program Manager and a Communications Manager
  • 2014 - Vital Ideas Grant awarded to develop an AMPLIFY! toolkit and video, now available online to other organizations and artists
  • 2015 - Album, a mural celebrating the intersection of art and human rights for the Pan Am Path Art Relay is unveiled
  • 2015 - Received major bequest of art collection from artist/philanthropist Earla Alexander
  • 2015 - Dancing in the Third Act, a new dance project for seniors is presented in partnership with the City of Toronto and Lakeshore Arts
  • 2015 - Arts Etobicoke and Lakeshore Arts are lead partners on the City of Toronto's Cultural Hotspot initiative in Etobicoke
  • 2015 - Nuit Blance invites Arts Etobicoke to participate in and exhibit large-scale community portraits by international artist J.R.
  • 2016 - Myseum, a city-wide art festival for which our Drop-In youth partnered with Neilson Park Creative Centre for an exhibition
  • 2016 - Montgomery Road Mural Project begins with artist Boo, Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, and Amnesty International

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