CUE

CUE is a radical, arts initiative dedicated to supporting new generation artists who live and work on the margins. CUE offers high-access project funding, mentorship, exhibition opportunities, and paid employment opportunities.

Our Impact Why We Exist

CUE provides financial support for individual art projects, and exposure through CUE's online gallery and in an annual group exhibition. Project coordinators and youth facilitators mentor young artists in conceiving, proposing, budgeting, managing, and exhibiting a wide spectrum of multi-disciplinary art projects. Young people in the community form a jury to review proposals, support one another's work, and mount a group exhibition of all work produced.

CUE engages artists who experience homelessness or instable housing; often lack formal education; navigate extreme poverty, isolation, addictions; experience a multitude of mental health issues; are involved with the criminal justice system; experience language barriers and literacy issues; are LGBTQ, racialized, stereotyped or deal with multiple stigmas; have little or no access to technology; are eccentric, and ultimately face barriers to conventional arts communities and support networks.

CUE works with dozens of community partners across the GTA, and collaborates with SKETCH on its Shared Platform. SKETCH ensures administrative, and financial oversight as well as governance and charitable compliance. 

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

CUE launched in 2008 in response to the lack of access to arts funding experienced by many young artists who live and work on the margins, who take unconventional roads in their artistic careers, and who face multiple exclusions and barriers in their lives and work. Since it’s pilot year, CUE has developed into a city-wide initiative led by a team of youth artists who reach out and connect with hundreds of program participants across the GTA. CUE has disseminated over $220,000 to support the creation of 219 art projects and hosted 5 group exhibitions. Throughout history, some of the most innovative art has come from artists working outside of conventional frameworks; CUE has created a system to provide a unique, nuanced, and grassroots approach to arts support.  

In 2013, CUE and SKETCH began collaborating with Arts for Children and Youth, Art Starts, and Jumblies Theatre to form Platform A, a special initiative of the Toronto Arts Council offering micro-grants, mentorship, and bridging opportunities to emerging artists in Toronto.

CUE has been supported by the Laidlaw Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto Foundation, Toronto Arts Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, ArtReach, and the City of Toronto. 

Accolades and Accomplishments

To date CUE has:

  • Provided over $220,000 in art project grants to artists living and working on the margins  
  • Directly supported 219 art projects 
  • Supported 10 emerging arts entrepreneurs to develop arts enterprises
  • Supported 19 writers with funding and/or developmental mentorship
  • Hosted 2 artist residencies
  • Engaged dozens young people every year in paid leadership roles 
  • Hosted 5 group exhibitions
  • Provided thousands of hours of individual mentorship to CUE artists
  • Won the 2010 Identity N' Impact Community Arts Award
  • Been chosen as one of Toronto's 2012 Vital Ideas by the Toronto Foundation
  • Won the Arts for Youth award at the 2014 Mayors' Arts Lunch 
  • Seen participants enroll and excel in post-secondary school, overcome addictions, secure housing, and apply successfully for external arts grants, launch solo exhibitions, and succeed in a host of other paid professional arts opportunities and significant personal evolutions 
  • Supported projects in every artistic discipline

Our Programs How We Do It

CUE provides a multitude of resources for youth artists, who live and work on the margins in the Greater Toronto Area, to create and exhibit large-scale art projects. CUE creates a peer-based learning environment throughout the entire process of envisioning, producing, and exhibiting art work. Program includes financial support of up to $1000 per project; intensive one-on-one peer mentorship in conceptual development, grant-writing, work plan development, budget management, and artistic technical/logistical problem solving, marketing, and quality finishing for exhibition/presentation.

CUE uses a simplified application process (including the option of verbal presentation), and several youth form a review panel to adjudicate the review, provide feedback, and vote on the project proposals that will be supported and put into production. Artists create work over a 3-month production timeline.

This process culminates in an annual group exhibition. Young artists collaborate with and are mentored by creative professionals to execute all elements of the public exhibitions. 

CUE coordinators are available to participants throughout the entire process to help them connect with future opportunities, and to consult on the development of their artistic careers (grant proposal editing, external exhibition opportunities, etc.) The program is directly shaped by the youth artists involved, and our organic, grassroots framework allows us to gain intimate understanding of, and respond directly to the needs and experiences of young artists across the GTA.

 

CUE Art Project Creation

Providing high-access arts funding involves:

- Grassroots outreach engaging youth artists across the GTA in connecting diverse communities to CUE (as well as through program and outreach partners)

- Public info sessions where young artists learn the basics of conceiving and proposing strong and viable projects

- Intensive individual mentorship in solidifying ideas and concepts, and creating proposals, budgets, and production schedules

- A peer-jury session to select projects for production support

- Production Support:  Artists approved for support work with CUE team to manage budgets, re-envision and adjust development as necessary, navigate hurdles that arise during production, and stay focused and inspired. Production support is always different, and in the past has included helping source supplies, making connections with professional artist mentors, providing personal support with mental health and addictions issues, securing professional studio space for artists, helping artists move, navigate the systemic effects of intergenerational poverty, managing money, and many more tailored forms of support.

- Exhibition: All work created is exhibited. Young artists are engaged in design, curation, promotion, and other elements of mounting the show

Program Impact

Young artists use CUE to build professional and creative capacity, and as a launching pad into artistic careers; education; applying for future funding; connecting with media and public audience; networking with arts professionals; forming collaborations and collectives; selling and exhibiting work, and a host of other paid professional arts opportunities, and significant personal evolutions. 

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“The (Art Starts/TAF/OCADU) report… shows communities alive with artistic expression, but facing systemic barriers to adequate support for artists and full participation of residents in arts and cultural activities. The study charts several directions for moving forward:

  • Strengthening the connections between artists in the communities and build on local arts networks;
  • Mentoring newcomer artists…
  • Accessing and sustaining more spaces for arts activities and enhanced funding for programs that serve neighbourhood needs.”

Participant Vignette

"The freedom and opportunity to make art with CUE's support has made a tremendous impact on me, and it's been an amazingly validating experience to have staff and mentors that support you enthusiasm. In addition to the financial support, the warmth, caring, and understanding of CUE is something else. Even after (the program cycle) ends, CUE keeps in touch and connects their previous artists with new opportunities which is something I've never seen. Through CUE I also got connected with a collaborative project that was exhibitied at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Right now, I'm excited to be working for CUE as a Community Mentor, and getting prepared for my role on the review committee, and I hope to continue building my work with CUE."

-2013 CUE participant

CUE Literary Arts

The CUE Literary Arts program was launched in 2012 when a past CUE artist presented the need to provide a support program tailored for writers. As a participant-driven initiative, CUE engaged this artist in developing the idea, and within weeks collaboratively designed the program and solidified an employment contract for this artist. Young writers living and working on the margins apply for $500 in sustenance support to work on a short literary project. Young writers receive mentorship in conceiving and writing literary project proposals. Writers selected for support each receive intensive writing coaching, editorial consultation, and mentorship in publishing and career development with a literary arts professional.

This program supports young writers working in any creative literary genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama, intersectional genres, etc.)

Program Impact

Young writers receive mentorship in conceiving in-depth literary projects, and articulating their ideas in proposal format. Writers whose proposals are accepted for support receive several hours of professional writing coaching, and the opportunity to perform/read their work in front of a live audience. Writers also receive follow-up consultation and mentorship in future opportunities (i.e. in submitting external literary applications, publishing strategies, etc.). 

To date, CUE has engaged dozens of writers, and have directly supported 19 writers with funding and/or developmental mentorship. 

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“The (Art Starts/TAF/OCADU) report… shows communities alive with artistic expression, but facing systemic barriers to adequate support for artists and full participation of residents in arts and cultural activities. The study charts several directions for moving forward:

  • Strengthening the connections between artists in the communities and build on local arts networks;
  • Mentoring newcomer artists…
  • Accessing and sustaining more spaces for arts activities and enhanced funding for programs that serve neighbourhood needs.”

Participant Vignette

"Receiving a CUE Writer's Bursary was the kick I needed to take (my short stories) to the next level and beyond. Working with (CUE's Literary Arts Coordinator) helped me find new ways of structuring plot and incorporating metaphor into my work, which I know I needed to focus on. And it was great to be able to perform live in front of an audience (Literary Cabaret, at Margin of Eras group exhibition)."

-CUE Writer's Bursary recipient  

What You Can Do

CUE Art Project Creation

Activities a donation will support

All donations will go directly to support youth artists' projects, and to engage participants is paid leadership with CUE. We welcome direct artist sponsorships and commissions (also gift certificates to art supply and music stores). Please see website for artwork samples and purchasing inquiries (100% of artwork sales to go support the artist directly). Grants to this program will enable CUE to enhance the resources provided to artists, as well as support youth leaders in delivering programming.

For $500-$1000 CUE will support the production of 1 art project.

For $1000 CUE will provide employment as part of CUE leadership for 1 young person

For $5000+, CUE can create and administer special awards, discipline-specific arts opportunities (i.e. Dance bursaries). 

Tax receipts for donations are availablle. Cheques can be made out to CUE-SKETCH. Email Zanette Singh, Creative Director, at zanettesingh@gmail.com for info. 

Donation impact

Support for CUE ultimately introduces unique visions from marginalized creators to mainstream audiences, ultimately shifting perceptions and stereotypes associated with marginalized communities, and building a more diverse, connected and inclusive culture.

CUE Literary Arts

Activities a donation will support

Donations of $500 will support 1 youth writer to create a literary project. 

Donations of $5000 will support an entire program cycle (10 youth literary artists engaged, 4 youth artists supported each with ten hours of mentorship and writing coaching).  

CUE has the capacity to create special awards, events, and tailored opportunities based on donor priorities. Please contact Jason Samilski, Creative Director, atcuegrant@gmail.com for info. 

Tax receipts are available. 

Donation impact

Support for CUE's Literary Arts program brings young writers out of isolation, connects them with mentorship and support opportunities, and creates platform for these writers to develop and showcase their literary talent, ultimately shifting perceptions and stereotypes associated with marginalized communities, and building a more diverse, connected and inclusive culture. 

Contact

Jason Samilski
Creative Director

Finance & Governance

Connect

Join the Conversation