SuiteLife Arts for Youth (SuiteLife), began as the brainchild of artist Denese Matthews. Through her experience as a performer, producer and choreographer she recognized the need to remove the financial burden of arts education. In 1997 she created SuiteLife, an incorporated not-for-profit multi-disciplinary arts organization, which provides accessible arts education to young people free of charge. SuiteLife's inaugural presentation was during the CELAFI 1997 Festival
Since its inception, SuiteLife has been operating out of West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher House). This partnership has enabled SuiteLife to bring young aspiring performers (ages 14-24 years) together with professional artists in an intimate setting where learning and creativity are fostered. Annually, SuiteLife offers a 16-week multidisciplinary performing arts program which consists of workshops on: acting, singing, dance, percussion, improvisation, performance, and theatre production.
The Suite 16 program aims to instill participants with the positive attributes of punctuality, commitment, responsibility, and respect for their peers, their work, and themselves. This intensive program culminates in an end of season live performance at Harbourfront Centre.
Due to the generosity of our sponsors, Suite 16 participants are provided TTC tickets and hot lunches along with the workshops. These additional services remove restraints to personal artistic development
After almost 10 years of success in downtown Toronto, SuiteLife was invited to replicate its multi-disciplinary arts program in Scarborough Village by the United Way of Greater Toronto, in collaboration with TD Bank, Youth Link and Action for Neighbourhood Change, an opportunity SuiteLife enthusiastically accepted. We continue to operate there.
In 2010, SuiteLife began mentoring selected alumni to create StArt Youth Presenting Art (StArt YPA), a youth-led initiative which provides Scarborough’s young emerging artists with accessible art education, opportunities to network with professional artists, collaborate with peers, create new works, and share their viewpoints creatively with the community at large. The StArt Youth Presenting Art Festival is a community building event that provides young people a much needed arts platform. Like SuiteLife, StArt YPA's programs are all free of charge. SuiteLife continues to manage and support StArt YPA while giving it the independence to be run independently by its young volunteers.
SuiteLife is founded on the commitment of the individual from its program participants to its volunteer board. Looking to the future, SuiteLife strives to touch more students, expand programs and bring more accessible arts education to Toronto. We are always looking for community support, in terms of financial donations, and/or through the dedication of volunteers. Please reach out to get involved!