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Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence


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DAREarts: 20 Years Strong

At the DAREarts Annual General Meeting on January 16, 2017, supporters, Board of Directors, volunteers, artists, alumni and staff gathered to report on fiscal 2016 ending July 31st, and celebrate DAREarts’ 20 years of empowering Canada’s at-risk children!  These young people are so capable when given the chance to ignite their potential.

Grad Elijah Brown gives his acceptance speech at the 2012 DAREarts Leadership Awards

Grad Elijah Brown at the 2012 DAREarts Leadership Awards

DAREarts Founder and President, Marilyn Field, shared her reflections of the past 20 years, “…celebrating the impact of our programs that combine arts and DARE values. As our grads grow into their future, they are still using those values to shape their lives today.  Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence – a framework that began 20 years ago – is still so crucial to so many!”

Grad Elijah Brown, 21, spoke of how DAREarts put him on the right path as a kid surrounded by challenges in Scarborough and how it still resonates for him as he completes his degree in Applied Mathematics at Trent University and trains to swim in the next Olympics.

In F2016, our 20th year, we reached out to over 10,300 kids to encourage them to ignite the change they want to see in themselves and in their communities.  The power of 20 years of DAREarts’ impact enabled us to grow by 8% in F2016 with revenues of $713,537 to end the year with a small surplus.

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DAREarts Founder & President Marilyn Field with former Chairman Barry Cracower

The AGM recognized out-going Chairman of the Board of Directors, Barry Cracower, for his considerable contributions and wit with which he led DAREarts.  He commented, “It’s reassuring to see DAREarts growing and looking ahead to the future!”

The Board welcomed incoming Chairman of the Board, Tarik Muzaffar, Managing Director, TD Securities. His leadership will launch our third decade with a DARE-ing goal of reaching a $5M budget over the next 5 years.

The year ahead, our 21st year, presents DAREarts with exciting opportunities to use our values-led arts education programs to empower even more Canadian at-risk kids who need hope to build their confidence and courage to be leaders.

Most importantly, DAREarts needs you: your support and your commitment to investing in the lives of at-risk kids.  Thank you for sharing the past’s successes with us; thank you for leaping into the future’s opportunities with us!

For the full story of the past year’s impact, please see our F2016 Annual Report here.

DAREarts' first Architecture Day in Toronto, 20 years ago!

DAREarts’ first Architecture Day in Toronto, 20 years ago!


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Groupand the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.


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DAREarts Vancouver 2017 Day 5: Britannia Students Stepped Up and Sang Out as They Showcased Their Gifts

Last night, as a finale to their week of creative leadership workshops, the 27 Grade 7 students from Britannia Elementary School DARED to inspire their families and friends to be the change in their community in their public Showcase.
da-day-5iTheir performances, videos, and artist talk-back session with the audience showed their true leadership.  As an example, Hannah, who entered our DAREarts program timidly, stepped up on stage and told the audience how this week’s DAREarts experience helped her find her voice and celebrate her true potential as a leader.

da-day-5hda-day-5bThe Showcase featured numerous solo performances by students, dance routines and videos.  Moreover, many of the students stepped into the Master of Ceremonies role with astoundingly thought-provoking and joyful speeches they had written for this event!

Parents, including the Britannia Elementary School principal, were moved to tears after experiencing the students’ creative and impactful work.

da-day-5gYes, inspired by John Aitken’s ‘The Gift’, these kids surely found their own gift to speak through their actions.  Now they DARE us to listen.

da-day-5fWe would like to thank our amazing DAREarts Vancouver team members, including Shelley MacDonald, Trisha de Luca, Elder Nk’xetko, John Aitken, Brunella Bauttista, Roy Mulder, Karen Myskiw, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, Tracie Stewart, Lori Triolo, Kurt Von Hahn, plus youth mentors Marlo Mason & Amelia Wilson! We would also like to send a special thank you to the students’ great teacher, Justin Borsato, for making this great partnership possible!

Photos courtesy Roy Mulder.


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, and TD Bank Group. Supporters of this DAREarts Vancouver program are ArtStarts and Parker Art Salon. We would like to give special thanks to Presentation House and to Britannia Elementary and Secondary Schools.


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DAREarts Vancouver Day 4: Putting it all together!

vancouverblog-4From January 20th to 26th, the grade 7s at Britannia Elementary School will be working with DAREarts’ team of artist-educators to ignite their inner leadership. Here is a report on the fourth day from Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald:

DAREarts Vancouver’s 27 Britannia School Delegates dared to be brave today as many of the students signed up to take on leadership roles for tomorrow’s Open Studio Showcase.  Michelle brought in her cello to provide music accompaniment to D’Angelo’s dance solo and found the right tunes to play.  Oliyad is ready to share his monologue about his own personal journey to Canada from Kenya. DAREarts delegates also had their first experience working with a teleprompter in the music studio with musician Kurt Von Hahn. Today was final Recording Day!   Tomorrow music and video will come together with live performance.  Soon it will be Show Time!


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, and TD Bank Group. Supporters of this DAREarts Vancouver program are ArtStarts and Parker Art Salon. We would like to give special thanks to Presentation House and to Britannia Elementary and Secondary Schools.


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DAREarts Vancouver Day 3: Media Arts Mash!

da-day3cFrom January 20th to 26th, the grade 7s at Britannia Elementary School will be working with DAREarts’ team of artist-educators to ignite their inner leadership. Here is a report on the third day from Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald:

da-day3b-1Today, DAREarts Vancouver delegates started their day in the recording studio with Musician Kurt Von Hahn, Voice coach Lori Sherritt-Flemming, and Film maker Brunella Battista to bring their poignant lyrics to life.  Filmmaker Roy Mulder also worked with students on creating the visuals for their music video.

The DAREarts delegates are stepping up their game as they focus on a putting all the pieces together for their upcoming Open Studio Showcase and community celebration:

Thursday, Jan 26th, 6:30 pm at Britannia Secondary School, 1001 Cotton Drive.  Come see/hear what our youth have to say!

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DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, and TD Bank Group. Supporters of this DAREarts Vancouver program are ArtStarts and Parker Art Salon. We would like to give special thanks to Presentation House and to Britannia Elementary and Secondary Schools.


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DAREarts Vancouver Day 2: Finding our Voices

dsc_0084From January 20th to 26th, the grade 7s at Britannia Elementary School will be working with DAREarts’ team of artist-educators to ignite their inner leadership. Here is a report on the second day from Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald:

“Epic, Incredible, Thankful!” These three words really sum up day 2 for Vancouver DAREarts!

The day opened with Elder Nk’xetko sharing her story of finding her voice again after residential school and teaching the students about the importance of friendship through a Traditional Indigenous Round dance.  dsc_0077

Students then took these experiences and channeled them into the lyrics for their song with Author Lori Sherritt facilitating brilliantly. Tomorrow these creative leadership students head into the recording studio with guest musician Kurt Von Hahn.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow!” The DAREarts delegates said as they put away their paints after an incredible prop making session with Visual Artist Tracie Stewart.


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, and TD Bank Group. Supporters of this DAREarts Vancouver program are ArtStarts and Parker Art Salon. We would like to give special thanks to Presentation House and to Britannia Elementary and Secondary Schools.


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DAREarts Vancouver Day 1: Our Silent Voices Sing Britannia 2017

dar1715The 2017 DAREarts Vancouver program has begun! From January 20th to 26th, the grade 7s at Britannia Elementary School will be working with DAREarts’ team of artist-educators to ignite their inner leadership. Here is a report on the first day from Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald:

Today 25 students from Britannia Elementary with their teacher Justin Borsato gathered together at Britannia Secondary School to celebrate and explore leadership skills through the arts.  Of these 25 students, 10 went through the DAREarts program last year and Lead Teacher Shelley dared them right away to step up and mentor the new students to the program. “Go where you are needed!  If you see someone that needs some help and encouragement go to them.  We are a team! We are community!”

the-gift-photo-dareThis is a very special group who constantly showed discipline, took action, were responsible, reflective, respectful and demonstrated excellence throughout the entire day.  This was especially noticeable while the students watched Guest Artist John Aitken perform his life story with Lead Teacher Shelley MacDonald.  “The Gift” is the story of John’s life and the challenging experiences he had growing up as one of the only Aboriginal Families on Mayne Island.  John lost both his parents by the time he was 13 and didn’t speak until the age of 18.  The Gift is 45 mins in length and is always followed by a talking circle where audience members ask questions and share comments about the performance.  John shared that of all of the talking circles that he has been in after the performance, the DAREarts Britannia students asked the most questions and offered some really good medicine.  DAREarts student Zane told John, “Thank you for your courage, Thank you for your story.”  DAREarts student Ione, who just started speaking herself for the first time this year wrote “I thought today was really exciting and John is extremely talented.  Thank you for sharing your story!”

dar1712After lunch, Artist-Educator Lori Sherritt-Flemming led the students through some powerful writing and movement exercises exploring moments in their life when they felt voiceless.  This poignant writing that they created will be used as part of the lyrics they will create for their spoken word/song that they will put to music on Tuesday with Guest musician/composer Kurt Von Hahn.  Our Video and Photography mentor Roy Mulder also led the students through a photo/video scavenger hunt where students took photos that represented the DAREarts values and the themes of the Gift.  The students are pumped and excited that they got to explore their leadership skills through so many different art forms on day one.

dar172One of the students wrote:

“DAREarts exceeded my expectations!  I had so much fun and I am really excited for the rest of the week!”

Another wrote:

“Fantastic and Excited!”

Photos courtesy Roy Mulder.


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, and TD Bank Group. Supporters of this DAREarts Vancouver program are ArtStarts and Parker Art Salon. We would like to give special thanks to Presentation House and to Britannia Elementary and Secondary Schools.


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Ringing in the New Year with Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence

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Our grade 8s explored identity as they painted abstract self-portraits with artist-educator Ricky Schaede. Photo by Mackenzy Willis.

There’s a saying as January 1st arrives: “New year, new you!” It’s the chance to start over, and to redefine ourselves for the better. DAREarts has already been working hard to help our youth redefine themselves as excellent, capable young leaders – a resolution that will empower 150 Rexdale-area children!

In December, we met with our new student delegates from 14 Northwest Etobicoke-area schools. These children have begun their DAREarts journey to empowerment as young leaders, leaving their schools for several full days of immersive arts education that help build the DARE values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility/Respect and Excellence. Coming in from grades four to eight, each class has now experienced two of their nine DAREarts Days.

Each DAREarts delegate is carefully selected by their school for a variety of reasons, many of which include bullying, poverty, underdeveloped social skills, or challenges at home or school. When a school signs on for DAREarts, they send us their students who are most in need of opportunity, and who need to find their inner leader before it’s too late.

Artist-Educator Jamie Robinson brings our Grade 4s into Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on their Drama Day. Photo by Alan Dunlop.

Artist-Educator Jamie Robinson brought our Grade 4s into Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Alan Dunlop.

Our children have already encountered many incredible experiences in their first three weeks of DAREarts Days, working with our teaching team plus renowned artist-educators, including actor Jamie Robinson, stage combat choreographer Casey Hudecki, artistic director Kevin Ormsby of Kashedance, award-winning visual artists Sann Sann Lam, Ricky Schaede, and Ilana van Zyl, Ojibway artist Gloria Hope, sculptor Bruce Brown, and artistic director Luke Reece and actor Bria McLaughlin of Little Black Afro Theatre. They’ve explored the galleries of the AGO, discovered ornate historical footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum, dug into clay at the Gardiner Museum, and painted in the studios of the Toronto School of Art.

Artist-Educator Kevin Ormsby had our grade 7s moving with a day of Afro-Contemporary dance! Photo by Alan Dunlop.

Artist-Educator Kevin Ormsby had our grade 7s moving with a day of Afro-Contemporary dance! Photo by Alan Dunlop.

As they gain new knowledge and try new things, each DAREarts “delegate” has a mission at the end of the day: they are dared to teach their classmates back at school what they have learned at DAREarts, allowing more children to gain new educational insights while our delegates put their new leadership skills into practice.

These experiences are reshaping our delegates’ outlooks on themselves, their peers, and the world. They are redefining themselves through the “DARE” values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility, and Excellence.

Our delegates have so much more to experience in the weeks to come, all leading up to their special showcase at North Albion Collegiate (NACI) on March 2nd! Join us!


DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead sponsors are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Groupand the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.