About Jumblies

Jumblies is a Toronto-based organization with a national and international reach that engages in collaborations between professional artists and diverse people and communities, and equips, mentors and supports others to do so. Jumblies expands where art happens, who gets to be part of it, what form it takes and which stories it tells. This imperative has led us outside of specialized art places, and to place participation and radical inclusion at the core of our projects. We say Everyone is welcome! and grapple with the implications – social and aesthetic – of meaning (or trying to mean) it.

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The Ground Floor window, Summer 2014

We adapt, combine and play with forms of arts production placed in new situations, with equal attention to all stages (before, during, after). Our performances and presentations, albeit highly-produced, are steps in a process, the ultimate product of which is the transformational experience, and its memory and trace – the transient micro-utopia and its lasting ripples.

Our work involves several interwoven strands:

  • Jumblies Projects, undertaking multi-year residencies in neighbourhoods and communities, and generating new works of art – passing through phases of research, creation, production, and legacy – forming cross-sector partnerships and involving hundreds of people of varied ages, backgrounds and abilities and dozens of experienced artists;
  • Jumblies Studio, for learning and mentorship in arts that engage with and create community – including consultancy, leadership development, internships, apprenticeship, workshops, research and experimentation, critical discourse, multi-media resources and project incubation and special projects;
  • Jumblies Offshoots, continuing relationships of support and collaboration with the independently-incorporated and thriving community-based organizations that were sparked by our work and residencies (Arts4All,MABELLEartsMaking Roomand the Community Arts Guild)
  • Jumblies at Large,initiating and pursuing new partnerships and collaborations with other professional arts organizations in order to infiltrate community arts practices and perspectives into the cultural “mainstream”.

Jumblies was founded by Ruth Howard, building on several decades of experience as a designer in professional and popular theatre, and particularly inspired by a form of Community Play brought to Canada from England in 1990 by Dale Hamilton and the Colway Theatre Trust (now Claque Theatre). Ruth and Jumblies have produced residencies in a series of Toronto neighbourhoods and communities, resulting in large-scale performance events and three locally-based independent Offshoots:

Date Community Main Production Offshoot
1999-2000 South Riverdale Twisted Metal & Mermaids Tears
 2000-01 Lawrence Heights I’m Tapingi Too!
 2001-05 Davenport Perth Once A Shoreline Arts4All
 2005-08 Central Etobicoke Bridge of One Hair MABELLEarts
 2006-09 Camp Naivelt Oy Di Velt Vern Yinger
2008-12 East Scarborough Like An Old Tale Community Arts Guild
2013-17 CityPlace Touching Ground

 

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As well, Jumblies has engaged in workshops, touring and collaborative projects across Ontario and Canada. In Spring 2015, we were the main producer of Train of Thought, the outcome of 3 years of collaborations with cross-country partners: a west-to-east-coast tour of community arts and (re)conciliation, with 25 stops, 75 travellers, 95 partners, hundreds of participants along the way and many new relationships and legacy projects.

In January 2014, Jumblies moved to a new downtown home-base, which we call The Ground Floor, in a Toronto Community Housing block amidst new highrise neighbourhood called CityPlace. From here we continue to engage in local and Toronto-wide projects and partnerships; mentor and support emerging artists and organizations; and offer workshops, consultancy and collaborations across Toronto, Ontario and Canada.
From The Ground Floor, we are creating a variety of interlocking projects that explore the buried landscapes and Indigenous histories held in this location and the city at large, including Talking Treaties, Touching Ground, Soft City Place and more. Many of the resulting new works will be presented in our two-month-multi-site Touching Ground Festival in May and June 2017.

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