By Chanelle Seguin
A large rhino mural was unveiled near the corner of College Street and Spadina Avenue Thursday as part of a new initiative to help street artists and improve street art.
For a year now, the City of Toronto has utilized the skills of street artists in the city through the program known as StART, a project that allows artists and young people alike to beautify, not vandalize, the community.
One of the programs under StART allows artists to revitalize and engage communities through a mural.
One of the Toronto mural artists, Viviana Astudillo, said it’s difficult to differentiate between what is considered graffiti and what is considered street art.
“Graffiti is a form of street art,” said Astudillo. “It depends what you’re doing, whether it’s legal or illegal, but I like to think of graffiti as a form of street art.”
Astudillo and her co-artist, Logan Miller, partnered with Cave, a non-profit organization, to apply for a grant.
The Diversion and Education Program is the second program StART offers grants for. It partners community organizations with at-risk youth and young adults who have been arrested for graffiti vandalism.
Const. Scott Mills, Toronto Police’s corporate communication media officer, told Humber News the collaboration with the police, courts, and StART is important for young people in Toronto.
“If a young person or an adult is arrested for a graffiti vandalism offense, they can come to work with people in graffiti community building work,” said Mills.
Mills added that this helps develop a youth’s life skills as well as art skills.
LISTEN: Scott Mills Interview With Humber
Since its initiation a year ago, 23 projects have been funded by the city.
Both programs offer $20,000 in grants should the artists and organizations meet the criteria of each specific program.
Dave Twaddle, a project manager for StART, said despite the fact the program is in its first year, this initiative has provided more of a focus on street art in Toronto.
“We’re at the stage now where we’re going to get feedback from all the different groups that we provided funding to,” said Twaddle. “Then, we’ll assess how they’ve made out, how the Diversions program made out, and we’re reporting to council in February.”