NYA Grow North Microgrants

North York Arts’ Grow North Microgrants fund artists based in North York to continue to develop their work and/or craft. The goal of these grants is to advance artists living in North York. As we desire to make this process as low-barrier as possible, these grants support a plethora of disciplines including, but not limited to: Indigenous arts, Disability arts, dance, literature, media arts, multi and inter-arts, music, theatre, visual arts, film.

This year’s funding can be used for the following eligible activities:

STREAM 1) Project Research & Creation

    • The artistic fees associated with the exploration and development of an artistic project or idea (research, exploration, and experimentation)
    • artist’s studio or workspace enhancements
    • **purchase of artist materials and supplies (brushes, dance shoes, self-tape equipment, etc)

**aspects of your activity that include the purchasing of equipment or other physical items cannot exceed 25% of your planned budget.

STREAM 2) Professional/Career Development

    • professional development and training (acting classes, consultation fees, certifications, etc.)
    • professional marketing and promotion (setting up a website to promote your art, new headshots, etc.)
    • mentorship (guidance or training by someone you are interested in working with, networking meetings, etc.)
    • software and hardware upgrades (purchasing video editing software, upgrading technology needed to engage with your craft, etc.)

Meet our 2023 Microgrant Recipients!

Brian Jiang

Discipline: Visual Arts

Meet Brian

Brian Jiang (they/she) is a queer trans multi-disciplinary artist of Chinese-descent based in Tkaronto. Their practice comprises of animation, illustration, painting, graphic design and beyond. As an artist collaborator working within the cultural sector, their arts-practice is informed by the love for their communities. Brian’s work draws upon mythology, the natural world, and lived experiences to explore the ties between identity, diasporic migration, kinship, and ecological connections. They have been commissioned by Pride Toronto, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Inside Out Film Festival, Maisonneauve Magazine, LinkedIn StreetARToronto and more. Their work can be found at @_brianjiang.

This microgrant will be used to create a series of paintings that explore the implications of “passing” through my lens as a trans racialized individual.

Jay-Marie Phillips: pothound

Discipline: Music

Meet pothound

Jay-Marie Phillips, known as pothound, is a Trinidadian-Canadian musician, producer, and artist. Her music spans electro-pop and acoustic indie soul, exploring themes of identity, solitude, and the clash of cultures. pothound’s debut record, Video Garden is a concept album, drawing on visual themes of neon noir, solarpunk, and urban jungles.

Jay’s practice is intertwined with identity and belonging as a queer, trans, Scarborough-born, Trinidadian-raised artist and organizer living in Toronto. Her work strives to find meaning in being an outcast. In 2020, Jay co-founded Cooler Fete, a queer Caribbean diaspora party, and is one of the resident DJs.

This microgrant will be used to help aid in the creation and development of visual elements for my debut project, Video Garden, using 3D animation and illustration.

Nailah Renuka

Discipline: Circus and Dance

Meet Nailah

Nailah Renuka is a circus and dance artist celebrated for her exceptional athleticism, curious spirit, and captivating stage presence. Her creative approach prioritizes interdisciplinary collaborations among diverse visual, musical, and movement-based art disciplines as well as between various circus disciplines like contortion, pole, and lyra. She weaves transitional patterns and evocative imagery into her work, channelling the full spectrum of human physicality and the intricacies of musicality in her explorations of what it means to be human. Most recently Nailah has worked with Les 7 Doigts as a pole artist in the creation of a new show.

This microgrant will fund 8-month contortion, hand-balancing, and acrodance training with Samantha Halas and Katelyn Ettinger to enhance skills, artistry, and receive mentorship in the circus industry.

Natalie Paton

Discipline: Writing and Filmmaking

Meet Natalie

Natalie Paton is a writer and filmmaker who tells stories about womanhood, immigration, generational relationships, Western society, and power dynamics. She loves calling the multicultural city of Toronto her home and is continuously inspired by her experiences and the experiences of those around her. Her work focuses on a mix of fiction and documentary with the goal of contextualizing the systems around us through character-driven stories.

This microgrant will be used largely to pay for location-based filming in North York, interviewing local residents, and renting equipment for filming dates (est. 4 days).

Yago Mesquita

Discipline: Theatre

Meet Yago

Yago Mesquita is an emerging, queer Brazilian-Canadian theatre artist from Toronto, ON. He is a playwright, performer, and producer with values of authenticity, care, connection, creativity, and fun grounding his artistic practice.

Yago creates character-driven work from a young, queer, first-generation Canadian lens, heavily informed by his experience and that of friends, family, and fellow artists. Yago is keen to push the boundaries of theatrical storytelling through highly imaginative, poetic, sensitive, and revealing multidisciplinary work that uses stylistic surreal elements that divorce itself from realism.

This microgrant will support a self-directed experimentation process within the context of ABfe47 to better understand its theatrical form, which is essential to ABfe47’s development.


1. Can my project take place outside of North York?
We encourage you to seek out resources in North York for your project, but yes your project can take place outside of North York.

2. Why do you ask for demographic information?
North York Arts is strongly committed to equity and inclusion in our programs. With this in mind, we have set out specific programming goals in our strategic plan to better serve our communities.

We want to prioritize allocating funding to members of communities that have been historically marginalized. To ensure that we do so, we are collecting data on how our participants self-identify. This is optional and we appreciate your input.
That being said, we also understand that some artists may feel pressure to relate their applications back to the hardships of their marginalization. If that is not something that is true to your work or you don’t want to share, please do not feel obligated to include that information. We aim for you to feel uplifted and supported during this process and not that this process is an exploitation of identity.

3. What do you mean by “North York”?
Unsure if you live within the boundaries of North York? Please check if you are a resident of the following Ward Profiles:
6 – York Centre, 8 – Eglinton-Lawrence, 15 – Don Valley West, 16 – Don Valley East, 17 – Don Valley North, 18 – Willowdale
And M3N postal codes

4. How does Grow North define a “Professional Artist”?
A professional artist is someone who has developed their craft through formal training and/or equivalent practice; is recognized as such by fellow artists working in the same craft; actively practices and pursues their art; seeks payment for their work; and has a history of public presentation of their work.

5. I may end up needing more funding than I requested on my application- can Grow North provide me with additional funds?
No, Grow North does not have any additional funding to distribute out beyond what you were approved for, so please budget accordingly.

6. Will Grow North fund 100% of my activity costs?
Yes, Grow North will fund 100% of your activity costs. You are not expected to have any other sources of funding.
7. What makes a strong work plan?
A strong work plan is detailed and realistic. Please make sure to include all the activities that will make your project possible. This includes prep, delivery, budget and evaluation.

8. What criteria is used to evaluate applications?
Refer to the rubric here.

9. Who is on the jury?
The jury is composed of 6 members. 2 of the jury members are working artists and 4 who are representatives of North York Arts. Jasmine Vanstone, the project coordinator for the grants, will NOT be a member on the jury.

10. When will results be sent out?
Applicants will be notified about the results of their application in mid-late September.

11. What do you mean by “What is your relationship to North York”?
We want to understand how you relate to the North York community. Have you worked, lived, or played in North York and have rich memories and present ties to the neighbourhood? Do you have relationships or will be engaging community members or other artists in North York? Is your project inspired by North York? Although it is not mandatory to answer “yes” to the aforementioned questions, artists that clearly identify a strong relationship with North York will be given preference.

12. I’m not happy with the decision made about my application – can I appeal it?
No, decisions made by the Grow North grant jury are final. Where possible, we will make best efforts to provide jury’s comments and feedback. We welcome feedback on the application process by email to: info@northyorkarts.org

13. Why is this grant only available to ages 18-29?
In 2023, due to specific funding requirements the Microgrants will be supporting North York-based youth artists that are 18 to 29 years old. This may not be the case in future years.

Microgrant Application Tips

1) Set up a meeting with the program coordinator! Jasmine, our program coordinator, has allocated office hours until the deadline. There will be one-on-one and group office hours to talk through any questions you may have about the grant. She’s here to support you! If you don’t have time to set up a meeting with him, try to attend our information session on July 6th.

 2) Use simple language. Speak directly and passionately about your work and why you’re doing it. Don’t write formally or academically, you’re speaking to other artists on the jury. Write in your own voice and speak about your project with as much specificity as you can. The clearer you can be in articulating your goals, vision, activity, and how this funding is going to help you achieve it, the more successful you’ll be. 

3) Support materials matter. It can be very tough for jurors to assess art from just text in a grant application. This is where strong art-based support material can make a huge difference, because it can really illustrate the quality of your work. Good support material provides the jury a way to connect to your artistry in a more visceral way. If you are submitting support material, make sure all the files are of the highest quality. If you have a grainy video of you dancing, maybe opt out to submit the high quality pictures of you doing that same dance instead. 

4) Get feedback on your grant. When you’ve been working on an application for a few days, it can become very difficult to decipher whether your writing is communicating what you want it to communicate. Get a friend to read over your grant. Ask them if they understand your project and if they can spot any mistakes or gaps. Having a peer review your grant before submitting is one of the simplest ways to improve your grant writing. Also, offer to do the same for your friends, helping each other is vital!

5) Start early. As artists, we know how applying for grants last minute can make your life more hectic than it needs to be. We encourage you to start your application as early as possible. Especially when it comes to finding office hours with Jasmine or getting peer feedback on your grant, you will find folks much more helpful if you give them lots of time.

6) Save your answers in a separate document. Although Jotform allows you to save your answers if you make an account, we highly recommend you copy and paste the questions and answers into a separate document. This will ensure that your answers will not be lost…technology can be weird sometimes.

Meet our 2022 Microgrant Recipients!


Discipline: Pottery and Ceramics

Meet Aalyaland

Aalyaland is a Pottery and ceramics Artist that will use the Grow North Micro Grant to create a ceramic art installation entitled “Vigilaunties” depicting tea cups with red flags –spilling the tea on toxic aunties that perpetuate patriarchal mindsets and societal norms through their behaviours towards people of all genders.

“First and foremost, my goal is to make people laugh because of how relatable and unfiltered this project is. Most South Asian womxn and non-binary folks I know have experienced toxic aunty behaviour. My hope is to create an art installation that people capture, share, and send to aunties via WhatsApp (the App that they most use to send forwards on to their peers).” – Aalyaland


Anaiah Lebreton

Discipline: Multimedia

Meet Anaiah

Anaiah Lebreton is a Multimedia Artist that will use the Grow North Micro Grant to create a music video – merging graphic design with music production and videography to an original song highlighting queer love. On the second slide, you can find examples of Anaiah’s past work featuring snippets from a collaborative zine “Youth In Revolt, Rookies With Friends.”

“This project is important to me because I see it as an opportunity to actualize a vision of powerful rebellious Queer people I often see missing from media spaces” – Anaiah Lebreton

Miguel Caba

Discipline: Visual Arts

Meet Miguel

Miguel Caba is a visual artist/painter that will use the Grow North Micro Grant towards research on the demolition of apartment housing in North York and the stories of the people that live there and then produce art objects based on that research.

“This subject is important to me because I have also experienced displacement in North York as the building I have lived in for my whole life was demolished to build new condos. I know that this is not an isolated experience since many buildings are pending demolition or have already been demolished in North York and in each of those buildings resides hundreds of people all with their own stories similar to mine about navigating displacement.” – Miguel Caba

Pierre Poussin

Discipline: Sculpture

Meet Pierre

Pierre Poussin is a large-scale sculptor that will use the Grow North Micro Grant to learn and refine his skills of digital-hand-sculpting, helping his concept development and fabrication processes become much more efficient.

“This activity is very important to me because it would allow me to bring my digital art-making processes and public art skills to the next level. I want to take the time to learn digital sculpting, because I will be able to use this newly-acquired skill within my public art practice. I will hopefully be able to digitally-sculpt just as effectively and efficiently as sculpting with clay.” – Pierre Poussin

Shan Fernando

Discipline: Theatre

Meet Shan

Shan Fernando is a theatre artist, who will use the Grow North Micro Grant to fund research and writing of a new play, in addition to paying for a playwriting workshop.

“My play is about an affluent Toronto family, the Austins, as they navigate mental health, addiction, and the acceptance of one’s sexuality”- Shan Fernando

Shanika Lewis Waddell

Discipline: Music

Meet Shanika

Musician Shanika Lewis-Waddel will use the Grow North Micro Grant to fund the creation of a new work mixing electronic/ambient/experimental music with steelpan.

“I am curious to incorporate styles/instruments/sounds that aren’t commonly heard together. With a goal of play, exploration, curiosity to see what new things can expand from these often separated genres…I plan to interview my 94 year old maternal grandfather who lived the majority of his life in Trinidad. I want to incorporate some of his stories into the music and let that guide the creation. I want this to be a project that allows me to learn more about him and Trinidad through his eyes.”- Shanika Lewis-Waddel

This program is supported by:

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