Founded by the Rev. Denise Gillard, The HopeWorks Connection (HWC) was established in 2001 along with Living Hope Community Church, a mission of the Toronto Area Baptists (CBOQ), in order to better facilitate its passion for community based work in the Greater Toronto Area. From its inception, this incorporated Non-Profit Organization understood its mission as that of empowering youth through the performing arts and relieving various kinds of poverty. In 2007 the organization realized that its academic offerings were also central and its current mission statement is; “Empowering youth through the performing arts, academics and relieving poverty.” This program is committed to producing a unique world-class youth performing arts company reflective of our great city. Complimentary to this goal is that of developing social skills and global sensitivity in our young people so that they are prepared to compete and interact in our global, multi-cultural society.
Since its establishment, HWC has collaborated with schools, agencies, governments, churches, community centres and various other NPOs to offer a variety of inspirationally and culturally based performing arts experiences and workshops to youth of all ages and backgrounds. Central to HWC’s activities is its signature program, The Toronto Children’s Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company (TC3) is an arts initiative for youth ages 7 to 18 years. Composed of predominately African Canadians, TC3 promotes, develops and encourages the skills and talents of youth in the musical arts through inspirational song and dance ranging from Spirituals to Hip Hop focusing on excellence, holistic development and world- class performance.
Presently, TC3 auditions youth from across the G.T.A. Through TC3 these youth have access to a broad scope of arts experiences including vocal instruction, West African dance and drum, contemporary dance forms including blends of Modern dance, Hip Hop and Step. This Performing Arts experience is rounded off by retreats, social skills training, conferences, stage presence skills building, specialized camps, as well as local, national and international appearances and concert tours. Along with their participation in the development of their performing arts talents, TC3’s youth are encouraged and supported in their quest for academic excellence. TC3’s innovative “Music & Math” a tutorial session which places high value on learning and reviewing the fundamentals of math, was initiated right from the start. In 2007, “Literacy in Motion” was introduced to support youth shore up their reading and writing skills. These two features within TC3 are just two ways in which the organization supports the academic advancement of young people. (In November 2009 TC3’s Performing Arts Choir debut CD “Our Message” was awarded a Covenant Award for “Children’s Song of the Year”.)
HWC’s workforce started with 5 volunteers and is currently composed of a part-time Executive Artistic Director, 11 Artistic staff, 1 TC3 Administrator and over 10 volunteers.