MABELLEarts brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to make art, tell stories and creatively transform the place that is Mabelle – a high-density Toronto Community Housing complex in Central Etobicoke. For us, community arts is a collaborative process of creating culture with the hands, voices and dreams of everyday people. Together we talk, work, play, plant, tell, build, remember, think, sew, eat, celebrate, draw, sing and mourn, transforming indoor and outdoor, physical and conceptual, personal and collective spaces in and around Mabelle.

Celebrating in the Mabelle ParkOur Impact Why We Exist

MABELLEarts is a community arts company embedded in the Mabelle neighbourhood. Our work is centred around the Mabelle Park – a once neglected swath of land acting as the only green space available to the over 3000 residents that inhabit the high density tower community of Mabelle Avenue. We work in partnership with local organizations to:

• Produce new works of art and transform Mabelle’s public spaces.

• Uncover and present the stories, themes and imagery of Mabelle, inspired by the people and cultures found there.

• Bring together artists, elders, writers, designers, meal-makers, seed planters, architects, performers, carpenters and others from Mabelle and other places.

• Create opportunities for people from Mabelle and beyond to explore and develop their creativity and civic engagement through ongoing workshops, events and paid employment.

• Welcome those who are most likely to be left out by offering free activities, food, childcare, transportation and translation.

• Offer professional artists and others to explore and develop their chosen practice in a community context under the guidance of skilled artists.

• Inspire a sense of connection to our creativity, each other, and the places we call home, through the creation of artwork, ceremonies and celebrations that revel in the beauty of the everyday.

"Just as the space began to resemble a park, it had also become something much greater - the vibrant, beating heart of the community. It was something only residents themselves could have created." — Matthew Robinson,The Globe and Mail

"Its kinda weird. This is the first neighbourhood I actually walk down the street and everybody is saying hi to me. A lot of people know me in this neighbourhood, from MABELLEarts. I never been in a neighbourhood where people know me like that. Walking down the street 'Hi! Hi!'" — Pat Austin, Community Leader 

A Light in Midwinter: Invincible Summer 2014Our Story What We Do

MABELLEarts works directly with over 1000 Mabelle residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds through our ongoing projects and events. Each year, we meet and welcome new tenants and find ways to include them in the life of MABELLEarts. Our community events and symposia have drawn audiences of up to 300 composed of Etobicoke community members and residents from elsewhere in the GTA.

We also engage emerging and established artists from Toronto and from elsewhere in Canada. To date, 50 different artists from a range of disciplines and areas of expertise have facilitated community workshops, contributed input, consultation, original artwork and designs to our projects.

"I lost my job in the recession [...] I went into bankruptcy. [...] I got my apartment, which I was very grateful for. But something was missing. Then I found the park across the street. I felt safe on that bench. And then I found all these people who were doing activities in the park." — Lorraine DeGasperis, Community Leader,

"Residents have transformed Mabelle Park with new benches, a bake oven, and a community garden, among other things. They have also imagined new ways to inhabit the space – and, by extension, the city – through ceremony, ritual, camp fires, and sleepovers. "— Ian Malczewski, Spacing Toronto

Music Making in the Mabelle ParkOur Programs How We Do It

"[MABELLEarts] changed how I see communities. [...] It's like a fantasy world. With people crazier than your imagination. And they make these incredible things that you couldn't dream of, of maybe you could dream of, but they make it true." — Sultan Syed, Community Leader

Our work tends to align with the seasons and involves two intensive production times (Winter and Summer) with time for professional development, fundraising and project incubation in the early Spring and Fall.

A Park of Many Paths

Our ongoing park transformation project involves artists, architects, gardeners and builders to work with Mabelle residents to re-imagine, transform and annimate the Mabelle Park, located in the heart of the Mabelle neighbourhood. 

Mabelle Ladies Cooking Circle

Community festivity is a big part of the life of our company. Our production times always include community workshops, gatherings and celebrations, none of which would be as exciting without food! The Mabelle Ladies Cooking Circle involves a group of women who come together to share recipes and traditions while feeding the neighbourhood. Each receive an honorarium for the participation.

Community Leaders

MABELLEarts provides ongoing honoraria to community members paticipate as interns and leaders in our various projects.

Toronto City Council voted unanimously in 2013 to include art in public spaces as a 2013-2017-investment priority:

“City Council will prioritize arts programming that enhances and expands vibrant public spaces for all Torontonians to share, focusing on free, diverse and accessible programs that “create a sense of place, help expand freedom of expression, spark community ownership of public spaces and encourage healthy, active living.” - Toronto Vital Signs Report 

How will artists, arts organizations and others meet the unique opportunities and challenges presented by this new commitment?  They require tools, networks and support, which is what Meet Us In The Park has been designed to provide.  MABELLEarts is a leader in the field of community-engaged arts with an innovative and highly successful set of values and practices.  What we want to do now is share these values, best practices and tools with new artists, organizations and communities across the GTA.

The Mabelle Park in summertimeWhat You Can Do

Become Part of the Story

Thank you for your interest in supporting MABELLEarts! Your donation will spark more creating, more impossible meetings, more friendship, and more positive changes. Help us make the art that builds community! All donations over $25 will receive a charitable receipt.

MABELLEarts is asking for support and sponsorship for large-scale public art peices, created in collaboration with professional artists and community members of all ages, which will be be installed in the Mabelle Park as part of its Spring 2015 Launch and final transformation. These projects include: 

• A Meeting Post

Goal: $10,000

Made from reclaimed wood felled in the Mabelle Park in the 2014 ice storm. This ten-foot post will be prepared by community members in Park workshops during the spring and beautified using ceramic elements created with Mabelle and Etobcioke neighbours  in community workshops with Ceramic Artist Janet MacPhearson. The Meeting Post will be installed in the centre of the Mabelle Park to create a gathering place for workshops, celebrations and performances. 

The Pathway

Goal: $15,000

A single Path through the Mabelle Park acts as the main route from the local school to the Mabelle Residential Towers. This path, which gave the project its name, A Park of Many Paths, is walked every day by hundreds of Mabelle families, to and from the main street and the school, where many educational and community events are held. The pathway, which has been formed naturally by the route of hundreds of feet daily, will be paved to provide safer and more accessible movement through the community. 

Outdoor Kitchen Concrete Tiles

Goal: $10,000

These tiles will be created throughout the spring with concrete artist Anne Miller and the Mabelle Sewing Room. Each tile will contain specific imagery and text that tell community stories. The tiles will be placed around the new Mabelle Park Outdoor Kitchen - to be installed in summer 2015. This cooking-fire kitchen will be used by the Mabelle Ladies Cooking Circle to feed community members who join us all summer for neighbourhood celebrations in the Park. 


MABELLEarts brings artists and community members together to transform the the place that is Mabelle. There are many ways to volunteer – help out with ongoing art workshops or a large community event. Please get in touch with us to learn about how you can get involved and  work alongside professional artists, builders, and cooks!


Shifra Cooper
Office Manager and Workshop Facilitator
Charitable Number: 851763458RR0001

Finance & Governance


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