Dixon Hall Graffiti Transformation Project

Organization Sponsor: Dixon Hall


Program Description

In the Dixon Hall Graffiti Transformation Project, sixteen youth ages 14-21 create beautiful and meaningful murals that are displayed throughout the Regent Park community. These murals allow youth to express their feelings and provide them with a positive and productive outlet to deal community issues that are important to them. Organizations apply each year for support under the Graffiti Transformation program.

Kate Stark, Executive Director
416-863-0499 | [email protected]

Funding Sources: 

The 2010 Approved Budget for the Community Partnership and Investment Program includes $353,940.00 for the Graffiti Transformation Investment Program.


Strategies For Sustainability: 

Dixon Hall is a multi-service agency located in the heart of East Downtown Toronto.  For over 80 years, we have offered a wide range of supportive programs and services to its diverse community members – primarily residents of Regent Park, Moss Park, West Donlands, East Bayfront and surrounding neighbourhoods – as well as homeless men and women from across the city.  We promote good jobs, good health, safe shelter, vibrant cultures and a strong community.  We are community partners in creating opportunities for people of all ages to dream, to achieve and to live full and rewarding lives.

Impact Of Program: 

The Graffiti Transformation Project increases teamwork among youth, highlighting the benefits of working together toward a common goal, with an educational and experiential focus. During 2009, funded projects provided employment for 100 youth. An additional 145 young people participated as volunteers, for a total of 245 participants. Many projects were able to provide honoraria to the volunteers at the end of the project, as well as ensuring they received training and skill development supports. The funded groups created 69 murals and removed 4,619 tags. Since the program’s initial projects in 1996, over 25,000 individual tags have been removed, over 350 sites have been cleaned and about 720 murals have been created. An estimated 2,128 youth have received paying work as well as business skills and training in the technical aspects of graffiti removaland outdoor art installations. In addition to the GT funding, projects raised additional cash and in-kind donations to expand their project budgets by approximately one third.Training in mural safety issues, including materials handling and safe working practices was made available to the participating organizations in 2009 through the leadership of Mural Routes and the support of the City of Toronto Clean and Beautiful program. This group training opportunity is planned again for the 2010 season.

Evaluation Tools: 

In making recommendations for ongoing funding, staff assessed the proposals based upon the following factors:the applicant’s experience working with youth;training to be provided to youth; number of youth to be employed;nature of the graffiti issues in the area;anticipated impacts on neighbourhood enhancement;program impact across the city experience and ability to raise funds from other sources; age of/and disadvantages faced by the youth to be employed (this can result in higher supervision requirements); and overall funding requirements to permit the individual projects to operate efficiently and safely.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

The youth are supported by a Youth Worker who assists them in drilling down their thoughts and feelings to images that can be brought to life on canvas, where their stories can be told and appreciated The project provides an opportunity for youth to cultivate confidence, develop strong social and employment skills, and build their self-esteem while developing their artistic, communication and positive conflict resolution skills.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Beyond the remediation of graffiti, the Graffiti Transformation program’s objective is to create opportunities in this field for the youth employed under the program, and theingenuity of the participating organizations in pursuing and developing opportunities is notable. The program is targeted at marginalised youth who face multiple barriers toemployment. Skills in team work, safety training, customer service and mural production are key components of the experience for the youth participants. For many youth, a GT project is their first paid work experience, and the supports provided by the programs for life skills and strong work habits are effective in creating a successful experience for the youth and the program.

Length and Stage of Project: 

Since 1996, the Graffiti Transformation program has funded community organizations to hire young people to put up murals in graffiti-prone areas, with the intention of encouraging public pride, creating safer spaces through more community use of public areas, and reducing opportunities for graffiti.


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