Micro awards offer 23 newcomers access to Toronto arts scene

Sponsored feature: presented by Toronto Arts Foundation


A private reception at Project Gallery (1210 Dundas East) tonight (October 4) will feature a selection of works from this year’s RBC Arts Access Award recipients, which include 23 newcomers from 16 different countries. Each artist has received $500 to $1,500 to cover costs associated with supporting a healthy artistic practice – from supplies and equipment to space and events.

A Neighbourhood Arts Network initiative, this awards program aims to address the challenges that all artists experience in practicing and presenting their work, but with the added scope of how newcomer artists uniquely face barriers related to language, cultural literacy and access to funding.

For Mirna Chacin, a photographer who emigrated from Venezuela to Canada in 2011, the award represented more than financial support – it gave her an important sense of creative validation necessary to push her practice forward.

“It made me feel that I had acquired the ‘legal’ right to be visual artist in my new home,” she says. “This fund helped to restore my eroded confidence and provided the positive feelings I needed to push myself into pursuing a professional visual arts career in Canada.”

Recipients in previous years have been able to utilize these awards as further momentum for fruitful creative production, public exhibitions and mentorships. The broad span of artistic disciplines and subject interests represented in this year’s group of 23 winners showcase the diverse global backgrounds that could potentially influence Toronto’s art scene in the future. 

Find out more about Toronto Arts Foundation awards here

2017 RBC Arts Access Fund Recipients

  • Natalia Starikova-Abud (Russia) is a visual artist and published children’s book illustrator.
  • Shabnam Afrand (Iran) is a multidisciplinary artist who works sculpture, installation art and jewellery design.
  • Padideh Ahrarnejad (Iran) is a musician and educator with expertise in the tar, a plucked-string instrument central to Persian music.
  • Larisa Alekseychuk (Ukraine) is a filmmaker whose work has been celebrated at festivals and banned by censors.
  • Mohammad Anwerzada (Pakistan) is documentarian and cinematographer whose work focuses on marginalized communities.
  • Mariana Bolaños (Mexico) is a multidisciplinary artist who works with ceramic, metal, wood and found objects.
  • Arsenio ​Andrade Calderon (Cuba) is a dancer who performs, choreographs and teaches contemporary and traditional dance forms.
  • Mirna Chacin (Venezuela) is a photographer who has developed a prolific career as a visual artist.
  • Banafsheh Erfanian (Iran) is a painter and illustrator who has illustrated 25 books and magazines and exhibited works around the world.
  • Federica ​Foglia (Italy) is a writer and director who assisted Deepa Mehta on Beeba Boys and also screened work at TIFF.
  • Olya Glotka (Ukraine) is a dancer and filmmaker whose work focuses on contact dance improvisation.
  • Elsa Hashemi (Iran) is a photographer who has exhibited internationally, most recently here in Toronto.
  • Merey Ismailova (Russia) is a dance creation teacher and the founder of the Ismailova Theatre of Dance company.
  • Amber Williams-King (Antigua) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores sexuality, gender, race, representation and intersections of identity.
  • Neda Mirbagheri (Iran/South Asia) is a visual artist inspired by the amalgamation of South Asian art, Persian carpets and geometry.
  • Teo Milea (Romania) is a classical/crossover pianist and composer who was the first pianist to be invited to play at the NATO’s headquarters in Belgium.
  • Manar Moursi (Egypt) is a multi-disciplinary designer and artist with a dual Master’s degree in architecture and urban policy from Princeton University.
  • Maha Munaf (Syria) is a photographer and architect who has been part of five group shows and three solo exhibitions.
  • Supriya Nayak (India) is an Odissi dancer who has worked collaboratively with musicians and dancers for almost 20 years.
  • Azadeh Pirazimian (Iran) is a visual artist and arts educator working in murals and other media.
  • Joanne-Aśka Popińska (Poland) is a filmmaker, activist and PhD candidate at the Polish National Film School.
  • Sarvenaz Rayati (Iran) is a visual artist and educator whose work has been exhibited internationally.
  • Fan Zhang (China) is a visual artist whose work focuses on cityscapes that depict rich history and culture.

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