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 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 embrace the joys and challenges, social and aesthetic, of meaning or trying to mean it.
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 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 organizations that were sparked by our work and residencies.
- 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:
|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 Festival|
As well, Jumblies has engaged in workshops, touring and collaborative projects across Ontario and Canada. In Spring 2015, we produced 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. Our second touring project Four Lands took place from 2016 to 2018, and visited urban and rural locations from coast to coast, ending with a 7-week residency at the Art Gallery of Mississauga in 2018.
In January 2014, Jumblies moved to a new downtown home-base, which we call The Ground Floor, in a Toronto Community Housing block in new highrise neighbourhood called CityPlace.
From The Ground Floor, we created a suite of interlocking projects to explore the buried landscapes and Indigenous histories in this location and the city at large. Many of these new works, including the Talking Treaties Spectacle (with Lead Artist Ange Loft), were presented in our two-month Touching Ground Festival in Spring 2017.
In 2019 and beyond we are attending to the Touching Ground legacy, as well as launching new partnerships, themes and creative threads. This includes a multi-media Talking Treaties installation at the 2019 inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, Odaabaanag – a new musical work by Melody and Beverley McKiver, produced in partnership with Soundstreams – performed at Harbourfront Centre in November 2019, and Grounds For Goodness – a new theme-based multi-year project.