Dx3’s Charity Partner Bridges the Youth-Tech-Skills Divide

November 21, 2016 Naty Tremblay

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If you were at #Dx32016, you might recall taking in some vibrant art displays at the booth of SKETCH–DX3’s charitable partner–which is a platform for street-involved and homeless youth in Toronto to experience the transformational power of the arts. Well this December 1, SKETCH is thrilled to invite the DX3 community to celebrate 20 years of local impact at SKETCH20: Transformations through the Arts.

There’s another reason we’re excited these days: we’ve officially launched our first of many digital-skills-based programs. With LinkedIn recently in the news for teaming up with Toronto Mayor John Tory to acknowledge the growing technology skills gap for youth facing barriers, SKETCH is developing “Media Arts,” a new program series designed to connect the 850 youth who visit SKETCH every year with creative digital-media opportunities and skill building.

beaches-nakishaWhile SKETCH has offered short-term digital projects over the years, this is the first time we’ve established a full-fledged media arts program with all crucial supports: training for youth, a drop-in media lab, mentorships, and a burgeoning media arts studio. More details and impact stories to come as we slowly–but surely–assemble more equipment, software and mentors!

How did we launch Media Arts? This fall we partnered up with Charles Street Video and the Canada Arts Council to run a ten-week filmmaking program tailored to LGBTQ2S youth living on the margins in Toronto. We called the program “Fluidity on Film” to reflect the dynamic nature of gender and sexuality, as well as the creative flexibility of storytelling through digital arts.

Nearing the end of this pilot program, we can already see the impact. Participants are learning everything: storyboarding, scheduling film crews and their roles, and all the technical skills to create short two-to-five minute videos that tell a story. Fluidity on Film is also encouraging knowledge share–a SKETCH hallmark–by providing several SKETCH youth leaders who’ve worked in media to co-facilitate film production and mentor participants.

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After we wrapped up weeks of filming, we asked the budding filmmakers to reflect on their experiences behind the camera, nurturing their new tech skills, and collaborating with their film crews. Here’s what they told us.

“I couldn’t sleep the night before–[in my mind I was] trying to organize, manage and troubleshoot things. Like the lights…what if the battery doesn’t work to film outside, what is our back up? I was worried about it and then when it happened it was just so good. My collaborators were so good and it made me feel really good–meaning a sparkly-ness inside.”

“I was working with friends who have some media experience, so when we were filming outside and the weather kept changing we were constantly working to adjust, and trying hard to not laugh on screen!”

“We were at the beach filming so crowd control was a challenge. We were all really cold, too. But overall it was really nice. It was cool to feel like we were doing this for the sake of the art!”  

“I worked on a pixelation with another artist, painting flames on their back. It was really cool to have a director watching us and guiding us around how much or little to paint in each shot. It was really nice to see the images all woven together.”  

You can view the results of these newfound skills and catch these fabulous fluid films’ premieres at SKETCH20.

SKETCH will continue to bridge the youth-and-tech-skills divide in 2017 as we launch programs in coding and digital photography. We’ll keep you up-to-date on Media Arts, and share the creative output that flows when young people living on the margins are given tech access and skills to succeed.

See you at SKETCH20.

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