(Out)side the Downtown Core: A Mixed-Methods Research Exploration of Sustainable Community Arts-Wellness Programming for Scarborough’s 2SLGBTQ+ Youth

Key Terms: 2SLGBTQ+; anti-Black racism; youth; arts engagement; Scarborough; community art 

Lead: Andrea Charise

Dirk J. Rodricks; benjamin lee hicks; Emily Peltier; Chalani Ranasinghe; Scarborough Arts; Toronto Urban Health Fund

About the Project

Deliberately decentring the downtown core (as the site of our research), and resisting trauma-rooted research into Canadian 2SLGTBQ+ youth experience, this research collaboration examines how high-quality arts engagement involving Scarborough-based 2SLGBTQ+ youth (age 18-30) catalyzes human interactions crucial to their social wellness. We aim to strengthen an existing partnership between Scarborough Arts (SA) and the Toronto Urban Health Fund (TUHF)—currently realized through the EAST H.E.A.R.T (Health, Education, Art, Resilience, Together) Youth Program—by adding a new, original layer of research knowledge generation occasioned by this innovative instance of community-arts-wellness programming. The EAST H.E.A.R.T Program mobilizes professional arts training in tandem with STI/HIV prevention modules to generate peer-to-peer sexual health education through artistic creation. Our project involves three main goals and outcomes:

1) Assess, with our community partner SA, challenges and facilitators to arts-engaged 2SLGBTQ+ youth programming;

2) Co-construct, with SA and EAST H.E.A.R.T Program participants, a wellness typology for community arts practices with 2SLGBTQ+ youth (i.e., in what ways does arts engagement facilitate participants’ definitions of social wellness?);

3) Theorize and generate both research knowledge of, and actionable policy outcomes for, arts-led 2SLGBTQ+ youth programming outside the city centre.

A mixed methods (quantitative, qualitative, and arts-based) approach anchors this work to establish—and enrich—empirical understandings of how 2SLGBTQ+ youth define and negotiate social wellness. Our goal is to make a critical, unique contribution to policy research and 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy beyond the downtown core.


Charise, A. “On Applying the Arts and Humanities in Austere Times.” The Routledge Companion to Health Humanities (eds. Paul Crawford, Brian Brown, Andrea Charise). Routledge, 2020. 18-26.

Charise, A. “Resemblance, Diversity, and Making Age Studies Matter.” Chapter in Teaching Health Humanities(eds. Olivia Banner, Nathan Carlin, Thomas Cole). Oxford University Press, 2019. 188-206.

The FLOURISH Collective is supported in part by funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the University of Toronto Connaught Fund