Jun 17
Sibos Update

SKETCH: Inspiring creativity, community and new opportunities

Introducing the Sibos charity and Art at Sibos partner for 2017

Engaging with the community is a big part of Sibos. Each year, Sibos teams up with a charity in the host city to help give something back to the local population, which is integral to the success of the event. 

This year’s chosen charity is SKETCH. Located in the heart of Toronto, SKETCH is an arts-based community enterprise that engages young people from across Canada who are living homeless or on the margins. 

SKETCH helps them to develop in the arts so that they can lead in building creative communities, and shape a brighter future.

The creative, community-driven and entrepreneurial spirit that drives SKETCH embodies Sibos and this year’s theme: Building for the Future. On site, the organisation’s artists will be showcasing their unique artworks, and delegates will hopefully be inspired to establish creative communities of their own in order to understand the forces impacting the financial community.  

Phyllis Novak, SKETCH’s Artistic Director & Founder, gave some further insight into SKETCH: 

Tell us about the creation of SKETCH, and the ethos behind the organisation 

[PN] SKETCH grew out of a small project that used theatre and art to help young women address addictions and the impact of violence in their lives. This was in the early 1990s, when Toronto’s homeless youth population was at an all-time high. 

For all of us, this project has led to some incredible learnings about how art impacts young people, and enables them to navigate the margins of life. Through engagement with the arts, they have discovered their creative potential and developed 21st century skills that lead them through to the next chapter of their lives: Communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. 

Over the last 20 years, we have built on those discoveries by gathering groups of artists, educators and activists together with young people to help transform storefronts, warehouses and abandoned schools into creative studios. The spaces have enabled young people to develop the necessary resilience and skills that are needed to live well, learn, lead and create inclusive artist communities.      

The ethos of SKETCH is that everyone is creative, and our imaginations are a powerful resource to help us get through life, create new employment opportunities and foster connections with the local community.

We believe that art ignites purpose and meaning in young people, and gives them a creative voice to connect to mainstream culture in their own unique way. We think this is a strategic response that can stop the vicious cycle of homelessness that affects so many young on the margins of life. It matters to us that their creativity is celebrated, and their unique perspectives are shared with the world. 

What is your focus in 2017?

We are sharing the ‘Art Transforms’ message with the broader community to ignite the same creative rediscovery and unleash the creative potential we all possess. 

Creativity is needed to solve the global challenges we face today, and we want to ensure marginalised voices are brought to the centre of our economic and cultural innovations.

At the moment, we are working to ensure young people are aware of the opportunities that exist in the arts, and how being a community leader can take a lot of different forms and shapes. We are also making them aware of how SKETCH is a platform to help them discover and develop their own skills, culture and change-making leadership that we need in society today.

Young people are overrepresented among Canada’s homelessness population: 29% are racialised and newcomers, 31% are indigenous and 29% identify as LGBTQ. We are therefore focussing on ensuring that the invitation to create here at SKETCH is loud, clear and accessible.

Watch Joel’s ‘Art Transforms’ story:

What will being involved in Sibos bring to SKETCH, and the young people that it supports? 

The partnership with Sibos will enable the international financial community to become aware of SKETCH, its impact on the Canadian landscape, and how engaging young people in the arts can improve the local economy and support a person’s passage out of poverty and homelessness. 

We are excited to share our community development story, which has grown from the grassroots to an organisation of influence.

At Sibos, our young artists will be sharing their creative work, which will boost and affirm their work and give them the endorsement they need to continue on their creative journeys.

What message do you have for the Sibos delegates ahead of the event?    

Art transforms situations for individuals, communities, ideologies, companies and systems. 

Some of the best and most provocative change-making ideas and artistic works have traditionally come from those who live and work on the margins of society. It is time to invest in the creativity of the people who are often seen by society as “unlikely strategists”. 


Young people navigating poverty, homelessness and marginalisation have unique perspectives and important contributions to make to broader culture. We need to make this happen by creating accessible spaces offering the tools, mentorship and resources that gives young marginalised people voices. This kind of investment by those with influence will speak volumes, and signal a societal shift that breaks down barriers and includes the voices we need to build the kind of world we want to live in together. 

Further details on this year’s Art at Sibos project at the MTCC will be shared closer to the event.  

*Photography by Sandy Nicholson