In Toronto Filipino center, it's art for youths' sake

In Toronto Filipino center, it's art for youths' sake
Jan. 12, 2015

Toronto's Kapisnan Centre for Arts and Culture will host an open-house January 22 to introduce guests to its youth programs Clutch and Navigation.

These two programs are arts-based, cultural immersion projects for Filipino Canadian youth, ages 17 to 24 years. They will run from March to August with Saturday sessions.

"We're hosting an open house where you can mingle with the programs' graduates, mentors and this year's coordinators," says executive director Nicole Cajucom.

"There will be light refreshments, good music and an all-ages after-party!"

Clutch is for young women and is now on its eighth year, and Navigation, now on its third year, is for young men. Both programs accept transgender and non-binary gender participants.

"The programs aim to empower Filipino Canadian youth with a sense of who they are, where they come from and why their voice matters," Cajucom adds.

Arts as learning tool
Clutch program coordinator Dorothy Anne Manuel says, "Using different art forms for self expression, both programs allows participants to explore their Filipino identity, culture and history."

Art forms that have been used in previous programs include photography, videography, theater, graphic design, visual arts, writing and fashion design. Business practices and retail management are also incorporated into the programs.

Participants gain free use of the center's equipment and facilities including photo and video cameras, computers and art supplies.

Participants will then develop work or works that can be showcased in a public exhibit or program, usually coinciding with the annual Kultura Filipino Arts Festival in August.

Developing leaders
The programs link participants with practicing artists, artisans, arts and media professionals for internships, one-on-one mentorships and possible collaboration.

Past mentors have included playwright and theater director Nina-Lee Aquino; singer, songwriter, filmmaker and radio host Casey Mecija; musician, composer and performer J.R. Punzalan; fashion designer Tala Berkes; graphic designer Christine Mangosing; illustrators Vince Sunico and Darwin Santos; and contemporary artists Kristina Guison and Julius Manapul.

"Graduates of past programs have continued to build their careers in the arts, performing on multiple stages across the city and internationally," says Manuel.

"Some have become settlement workers within the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Some have returned to the Clutch and Navigation program as coordinators, facilitators or mentors. Some have started their own programs for youth."

Most importantly, both programs aim to "inspire critical thinking, promote self-confidence and empowerment and allow participants to learn and grow in their own way."

Clutch has had 37 participants throughout the years; the much newer Navigation program has had 10.

"These two programs are supported solely by the Ontario Arts Council," says Cajucom. "Hopefully with more financial support from the community, we'd like to grow both programs to include even more young Filipinos of all backgrounds."

Kapisanan Centre for Arts and Culture accepts donations for its programs and rents out its equipment and spaces.

Deadline to apply to Clutch or Navigation is Feb. 17, 2016. Kapisanan Centre for Arts and Culture is at 167 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario. Call +1-416-979-0600. Visit Like on Facebook (Kapisanan).