urbanNOISE is an annual urban arts festival created to unite communities against violence. Launched in 2006, the project ran for seven years, and included a free Youth Training Program and Ambassador Program that promotes leadership, unity and social change in the culturally diverse communities of Rexdale/Jamestown, located in North Etobicoke.


A joint venture between Expect Theatre and Arts Etobicoke, urbanNOISE creates a platform for youth to speak out against violence in their communities. The Training Program provides an opportunity to participate in intensive workshops facilitated by top industry professionals. These workshops courage youth to identify and examine the issues that directly affect them in a supportive environment through various artistic mediums. It also solicits the attention of the general public to take notice of the neighbourhoods that are suffering from racial tension, poverty, gender inequality and lack of resources – all of which can become a potential source for violence. The Ambassador Program provides paid summer employment opportunities for youth who are interested in learning about the business side of the arts and eager to cultivate their skills for the job market. The urbanNOISE Festival is an opportunity for participants to showcase their work and share the stage with guest performers such as JUNO Award winner Jully Black, Drake, Jellestone and Dora Award winner d’bi young.


urbanNOISE is a leading example of how arts based programs are a powerful vehicle for change, a tool for leadership and a positive source of community engagement.


Mayor David Miller has applauded urbanNOISE for its efforts in “changing the perception of Rexdale – as the home of the gun, gangs and drug-related crime – to a new home featuring the beauty, artistic talent and inventiveness of its youth.


How it all started…

urbanNOISE was inspired by the successful PROPS program that brought Arts Etobicoke and Expect Theatre together. Over an eight-month period in 2003, they worked directly with high-risk youth in Jamestown. Together with 50 youth, they created the ground-breaking multi-disciplinary theatrical production, “Fillin’ The Blank”, performed at North Albion C.I., which reflected life in the troubled neighbourhood.


urbanNOISE theme:

Each year, the urbanNOISE Youth Advisory Crew selects a theme that will be the focal point for both the Training Program and Festival. The theme will provide consistency in the works, but will be broad enough to allow for artistic interpretation.


Teaching artists, youth participants and commissioned performers will employ and embody the urbanNOISE theme when developing their artistic works.

2011 Highlights
A Co-Production of

Youth Program