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Sharon Avery: Going far means going together

This is an outstanding city.
But you don't just take.
You've got to build.

Fran Deacon

Wife of the late Fraser Deacon,
Founder of Toronto Foundation

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Sharon Avery: Going far means going together

Every evening, I sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to my son. Even on days when I work late, I make sure I’m always home by bedtime to participate in our nightly ritual. It’s an important routine for us, not only because it helps my son fall asleep, but because it brings us closer together.

Music truly has this uncanny ability to connect us. And as we all know, when we come together, when we work together, we can achieve so much more than if we act alone. That’s why, at Toronto Foundation, we continuously seek out partnerships to strengthen our work and increase our impact.

Over a decade ago, Toronto Foundation and the TTC came together to explore how we could play a role to improve deteriorating public spaces with art. We collaborated with residents, philanthropists, businesses, community organizations, and government. Through this collective effort, called Arts on Track, the Museum subway station was transformed to reflect the beauty of the cultural artifacts found in the museums above.

Now, through the new Underground Sounds program, we are again working in partnership with the TTC and philanthropists to improve public space through art and music. Over the next three years, we’ll contribute funds to install and maintain new performance areas across the TTC’s subway network. These new areas consist of vinyl “stages” on the floor and complementary wall decals, creating spaces for musicians to perform in the subway system and allowing for more equitable access to music.

Our mission to connect and collaborate goes beyond the arts. Earlier this month, we supported the Toronto Atlas of Neighbourhood Groups and Organizations (TANGO) as they hosted the city’s first-ever Toronto Neighbourhood Summit. This meeting of representatives from Toronto neighbourhood and tenant associations was the first step in building a formal neighbourhood association network. We’ve also recently shared our work with the Great Lakes One Water Partnership (GLOW) to ensure our city is ready to face climate change and increased flooding. You only need to turn on the news to know how pressing this issue is right now.

So remember: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At Toronto Foundation, we want this city to go far. And we know that the only way we’ll get there is by working with partners to bring everyone along with us.