About & History
Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Society supports the creation and presentation of new fiction, poetry and drama that reflect the complexity of Toronto—and Canada—back to residents through the eyes of its richly diverse communities. Our focus is on the development of both artist and audience, and on working toward redefining the “mainstream” in the arts sector, and ensuring it is as diverse as the country itself.
Since our 2005 launch, DD has engaged over 525 culturally diverse and Aboriginal writers/artists. The talent are a mix of both emerging and well-established, from literature, spoken-word poetry and theatre (occasionally dance and music as well). They are commissioned to produce new work, participate in a robust mentoring program, a popular multidisciplinary performance series and artist-run workshops for youth in priority neighbourhoods. We also host free professional development seminars and networking events for our writers and artists.
DD has become recognized as one of the main arts organizations in Toronto; our programming partnership is eagerly sought out by Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, The Word on the Street, Keep Toronto Reading, Doors Open and City of Toronto Culture, among others.
In addition to creating collaborative opportunities for writers to connect with each other and with new audiences across cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, we work to increase the audience for the arts among Canada’s ethno-cultural communities by devoting significant effort to audience development into ethno-cultural communities. Through our activities, we help develop new networks and professional relationships between the arts community, community-based organizations and organizations serving newcomers, thus expanding community access.
In 2005 we launched Diaspora Dialogues to support Toronto writers, and to create a lasting literature of Toronto that accurately reflects the incredible diversity this city enjoys.
Toronto deserves the starring role in stories, poems and plays written by those writers who call it home. We hope that, through our programs, we help artists and audiences connect with each other, and that together we are building a city of experiences.
The idea for Diaspora Dialogues was sparked when Alan Broadbent, Chairman of Maytree, asked me, “If the foundation were willing to fund an initiative that helped stimulate the voice of immigrant writers in Toronto, what would you do?”
After researching and meeting with writers, publishers and community organizations, we founded Diaspora Dialogues – an organization that aims to bridge cultures, communities and art forms. We work almost exclusively in a partnership model, meaning that our work connects many organizations and festivals with culturally diverse writers and artists. We do this to expand access for programmers, audiences, and the writers and artists themselves.
We hope you’ll join us in the work of diversifying our pages and stages, and to help us continue to showcase talented new writers and artists to Toronto.
— Helen Walsh, President