My Art, My New Land-cohort 1


A SPARK project for the Cultural Hotspot,

in partnership with City of Toronto, Neighbourhood Arts Network, North York Arts, and North Toronto LIP

August 2016, Toronto Centre for the Arts

 This improv series of workshops has been created to help newcomer artists face and overcome challenges in a new culture and society by providing an opportunity to develop communication skills in authentic and dynamic situations. Each workshop has a theme and the final one will end with a celebration. Admission is Free for newcomer artists.

What is Improv?

In one way, improv imitates life in that it is unpredictable and totally unscripted; it the spontaneous creation of something entirely new and unique. Improvisation is often thought of as an “off the cuff” activity, with little or no preparation or forethought. Improv teaches people how to react, adapt and communicate honestly with each other (Leadership Agility: Using Improv to Build Critical Skills).

On another level, improv is a way of being. It is a method that allows for creativity beyond the normal. It allows for confidence and real emotion to become unblocked. For many improv players, improv is therapy and knowledge (What is Improve?).

On an even higher level, improv is reverting to childhood, to games, to no censors, to ancient behavior. What is it like to clearly feel the emotions that mankind shares together? It goes back to something as simple as ” breath in: breath out.” (What is Improve?).


How can Improv help newcomer artists?

Immigration is a huge challenge for everyone, and newcomer artists face a lot barriers on their way to building successful careers in the field of art and culture. They have the knowledge and experience to be effective in their own culture but in a new land they need the ability to adapt their knowledge and experience into a new environment, with complex and diverse culture practices, new ways of expressions, and even a new description of art.

Toronto is known as one of the most diverse cities in the world. Given the increasing diversity of our population, the need to better understand the experiences of immigrants and culturally diverse artists, art professionals, and cultural workers is clearer than ever. In identifying and effectively addressing these artists’ needs, barriers to inclusion can be identified and dismantled, inclusive arts practices and programming can be established, and better strategies to connect artists of diverse cultural backgrounds with existing services and opportunities can be provided (Challenges and Barriers).


  • Theatrical games and role playing activities
  • Dramatized scenarios of real situations and rehearse for reality
  • Practical skill tutorials
  • Lectures

Our facilitators are the best in their fields and are ready to share their experiences with the participants in these four themes:


  1. Adaptability

Facilitator: Beatriz Pizano, Artistic Director at Aluna Theatre, August 3

In this workshop participants used present, bodies, and memories, to uncover the power in each of our journeys as artists.  Stories, individual and collective, became a work of art. Through a series of improvisations, participants developed small scenes that then assembled together, collectively by the group, into a short play.

  1. Collaboration Skills

Facilitator: Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director at Cahoots Theatre, August 10

This workshop highlighted and explored various techniques and approaches to collaborate in a Canadian artistic context. Although every artist is different, and every art form has its own culture, this workshop identified some of the common expectations from artists in Canada.  Through group discussion, case studies, practice sessions and a chance to put those skills to work!

  1. Network and effective communication

Facilitator: Maria Victoria Mata, Metcalf Foundation Associate Artist, August 17

This workshop included:

  • Creative movement exercises
  • Mission/Vision/Medium
  • “Networking” means in art sector in Canada
  • Speed dating elevator pitch
  • Writing artists statements
  • “what is their new/in-mind project”?
  1. Marketing and Promotion

Facilitator: Yasser Pervais, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Manifesto Toronto, August 24

This workshop included:

  • Using social media for artists
  • Selling art in Toronto
  • How to have more audiences

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“I appreciated and enjoyed the small group, relaxing atmosphere, professional speaker”

“Precisions of information”

“Very eye-opening workshops”

“Fantastic workshops and friendly. It was like a start”

“Enjoyed working together and was inspiring”

“Was witnessing our stories, unfolding in our mental, emotional, physical, creative and spiritual bodies.”

“Gave everybody to express themselves in their own unique way. Gave us a chance to explore our potentials”