Have you heard of the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program awards? Each year, nineteen non-profit organizations are awarded a collective $250,000 in funding with access to musical instruments, education and programming for youth, many in under-served neighbourhoods. The program itself was a vision brought to life by Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene when, four years ago, he decided he wanted to get involved with MusicCounts.
He proposed an agenda for the organization to support programs serving at-risk youth, who may lack opportunities for music education through their own schools. While congratulations are in order for all of the hard working organizations (you can see the full national list here), one in particular caught my eye and my ears! Lost Lyrics works in Toronto’s Jane-Finch and Malvern communities as a mobile learning incubator. It bridges the knowledge between the streets and the classroom.
I had a chance to speak with Paulina O’Kieffe, the initiative lead at Lost Lyrics.
Your initiative has caught my attention! What has this done for the kids in the communities you’re in?
Lost Lyrics, a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform, started out in the communities of Jane and Finch and Malvern; so we don’t just visit these communities we are very much a part of them. As a mobile learning incubator, Lost Lyrics is able to bring a more diverse and accessible learning experience to the youth we serve in and outside of these communities. Being rooted in these two communities, which are on opposite ends of the city, has encouraged the youth in our programs to look beyond their immediate neighbourhood and discover what’s really out there for them. Youth from Jane and Finch have traveled to Malvern and vice versa. In addition to this we have taken them to events, conferences, workshops, art spaces, and communities all over the City. This has led to some of our alumni, or OGs as we call them, being offered opportunities to perform or to connect with networks that have helped them expand upon what they want to do in life.
How will the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program award help your organization?
The MusiCounts Program will be such a great help to our organization as it will allow us to purchase musical equipment that our students could really use to explore and work on their art forms which is significant because it is becoming difficult to access funds for capital needs such as instruments through traditional funding sources. In addition to that the ability for us to purchase musical instruments will allow for us to diversify our funds and create economic opportunities for our young artists by giving us the opportunity to create a menu of music classes that our students and facilitators can teach to community and privately for a fee, a portion of which goes back to sustaining our organization and the work we are doing.
What does the community expect or want from your organization?
After being entrenched in community for the past 8 years, Lost Lyrics recognizes that we are expected to bring new, exciting, relevant and accessible ways in which to engage young people in their learning experiences. Our students, and their parents, know that we are 100% dedicated to their growth and development and that we will be there beyond just the programming. We have been and will continue to be there at the important milestones in their lives because we become part of their family. This is what makes Lost Lyrics stand out among the many different programs and organizations that are out there supporting young people. Once we step into the lives of a young person we become part of their journey for the long run.
What do you want our readers to know about your organization?
Lost Lyrics is constantly expanding and growing as an organization and are really excited about the work we are doing to support young people on their learning journeys. We are proud to offer workshops, conferences, camps, mentorships, artist residencies, events and just spaces where young people can come and learn, teach, express and create freely as they discover who they are in a positive and encouraging atmosphere.
As a small organization we are very grateful for those within and outside of community who continue to support us, whether it be financially or as volunteers, in being able to just exist as a complimentary or even alternative option for young people who are looking to learn, grow and develop as artists and leaders in this city.
Amazing! Thank you to Lost Lyrics and here’s wishing you continued growth and opportunities. I had a chance to listen to some of the music written and performed by the students and there’s incredible talent happening! You can listen here.