When Toyin Oladele arrived in Calgary in 2017, an unfortunate experience with an agency left Toyin, an already seasoned arts administrator, with a discouraged feeling. After months of searching for qualified arts leaders within the community, Toyin learned about the Rozsa Foundation and its offerings for professional development.
"I was looking for opportunities," says Toyin, "I needed mentorship and I needed to find people I could talk to. I couldn't find this initially and I knew I needed to get Canadian experience."
A fateful meeting with Arts Champion and celebrated artist Lanre Ajayi and Wunmi Idowu of Woezo Africa would lead to connections that took her down the path of what it takes in Alberta to build a solid foundation and understanding of the Arts community in Alberta. "By connecting with celebrated leaders in community, I got to know about the Rozsa Foundation."
Images provided by Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation.
"Apart from being an artist, I curate, I mentor, I am event organizer and once I found out about the Rozsa Foundation, it put me on a trajectory to build an organization to help others. I got the orientation I needed to understand the landscape of the arts sector here. With this foundation and with this support this has led me to build the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation."
The Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation's mission is to create a free space in Calgary where immigrant artists can create, connect and display their works in an environment that fosters diversity, support and inclusion.
"By creating a safe, warm and welcoming environment, ICAI is taking the first steps in establishing a community for these artists where they are encouraged to not only develop and hone their skills, but also expose their distinct cultural identities to the people of Calgary".
According to Toyin, ICAI will achieve these goals by providing access to specialized information and resources, including exhibition information, professional training, and mentorship opportunities, in order for these artists to bridge barriers and further develop their unique skills. ICAI will also simultaneously create programming tailored to the diverse needs of these artists and encourage the development of partnerships within the local art scene that can provide opportunities to turn the passion and creativity of these artists into thriving careers and businesses.
By providing these resources and opportunities, ICAI wants to not only educate and enlighten the city about the diverse and highly skilled artists who call Calgary home; the council also wants to mentor, guide and expose these artists to the many possibilities that exist both professionally and creatively throughout the city.
For more information please visit: https://www.icaionline.org/