This month’s feature donor is SKETCH board member, Maggie Selma! Passionate about fostering opportunities within marginalized communities, Maggie supports SKETCH in building impactful relationships with other Toronto organizations. Read on to learn more about Maggie as she sits in conversation with SKETCH’s Communications Specialist Jonsaba Jabbi, to tell us what she thinks makes SKETCH so special.
Jonsaba Jabbi: How did you hear about SKETCH?
Maggie Selma: Through a program called Board Match. Although I’ve always been quite involved in the community, volunteering my time across various initiatives such as Therapy Dog Handling and volunteering as a Meal Server, I was looking to give back more from a strategic perspective. I found SKETCH on Board Match and began attending various events to learn more about the community and the organization’s mission. I immediately fell in love with the impact SKETCH drives and how genuine the organization is in fulfilling its purpose of empowering youth.
JJ: What was your first impression?
MS: ‘Wow, I feel so warm and welcomed!” Bright smiles seemed to greet me everywhere, from program participants, to staff members. Smiles that still give me a sense of warmth whenever I’m at SKETCH.
JJ: What attracted you most about SKETCH?
MS: I’m attracted by the art, the broad definition of art which I have now come to learn so much more about! I always appreciated art and music, but with SKETCH, I realized that there’s so much more to art than I ever imagined. The definition of art and how SKETCH captures it is so fundamentally present.
JJ: Why did you first give to our organization?
MS: I can see the direct impact. I know that my donations will impact arts programs in the Toronto community.
JJ: Why does this cause matter to you?
MS: Personally, I’m very passionate about people. I have worked really hard in my life, but I can also see that I’m incredibly lucky that my hard work has been recognized and that I’ve been presented with great opportunities. I want to be part of the SKETCH community to drive the luck I have been so fortunate to receive to others. I want to be part of the SKETCH community that creates access to opportunities for others.
JJ: What are you involved in at SKETCH?
MS: I’m involved in Resource Development planning, which means I’m helping to create opportunities for different members of the Toronto community to come together, realize their similarities and drive their impact through donations and sponsorship. An example of this is SKETCHTalks, where we bring various members of the Toronto community to engage in conversation around various topics that span the community and arts. The event is open (and free) to all, and is a great way for members of the Toronto community to engage and really break down systemic barriers that may have otherwise hindered conversations to take place between these groups.
JJ: In your opinion, what is the most important work SKETCH does?
MS: Creating opportunities for the less served. Opportunities that span personal and professional development.
JJ: Tell me about your life and your upbringing?
MS: I am super fortunate to have two parents and an older brother who have always supported me. Regardless of the high hopes and dreams I’ve had, they were (and still are!) always willing to provide guidance (along with some hard reality checks) and direction to help me tackle my aspirations. Because of their support and belief in me, I feel strong and confident in my voice – unfortunately this is a luxury that not many have and I hope with SKETCH we can continue to change this! Through my upbringing I have witnessed my parents work extremely hard, literally building a life from scratch, after our small family of four immigrated to Canada. I think that witnessing their perseverance and their willingness to always help others before themselves is what has truly shaped me into who I am today and who I hope to be in the future.
Likely because of the circumstances of our move to Canada, I was always encouraged to ask questions (often to store clerks) in unfamiliar settings as a child. Looking back, this is a key reason why I have such high self-confidence in reaching out to others. This, coupled with my genuine interest in people has made it easy for me to create lasting connections with others.
JJ: Why do you donate/volunteer?
MS: It’s important to give back. Everyone has a social responsibility to help others and help each other grow, and when we do we are also recipients of other’s help! Everyone should give back in the medium that they can. If you’re worried that you don’t have enough to give, say goodbye to those thoughts! Something is always better than nothing, and we always have something to give! Trust me, people are so grateful for the help they are given, regardless of how big or small YOU may think it is, to the recipient it makes a WORLD of a difference!
JJ: What do you hope SKETCH will achieve in the future?
MS: For me, the ideal would be that SKETCH can exist to empower people. That the notion of needing to exist to serve marginalized young people wouldn’t be necessary, because everyone would have equitable access to opportunity. That the notion of needing to serve the less served communities wouldn’t exist, because there would be no less served communities. I wasn’t lying when I said I have some ridiculous high reaching dreams.
JJ: Why should someone make a donation to SKETCH?
MS: You can directly see the impact that the donation will make in the community.
JJ: What other organizations or causes do you support?
MS: I volunteered with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital as a Catalyst Member, driving awareness of the hospital’s efforts to the public. I also made lunches for the homeless through the Miller Group. Personally, I’m working on a social initiative that aims to expose youth to different areas of opportunity.
JJ: What motivates you to stay involved?
MS: My passion for people and life. I feel a lot and I want to help people in whatever way I can.
JJ: What do you tell others about SKETCH?
MS: SKETCH is a community that welcomes you all. I guess it’s more than a community, it’s truly a welcoming, if you would. This is what I try to tell people about SKETCH, that they are WELCOME! I also encourage others to come and visit SKETCH for themselves, as words really don’t do SKETCH justice when trying to capture the organization’s essence. If you haven’t already, and are interested in feeling this warmth and welcoming for yourself, I invite you too, to visit SKETCH!
JJ: What are you most passionate about?
MS: In addition to being passionate about people and life, I’m also passionate about learning. I’m incredibly curious and love exploring new ideas, thoughts, and concepts!
SKETCH studios at 180 Shaw Street will remain closed to public access until further notice. We are forced in this time of pandemic to rework and consider our sustainability given public health priorities and resources. We will keep you posted on new designs in September.
Connect here for wellness supports.
We've launched our Equity at SKETCH Web page to be in dialogue with you about our Equity goals.
Black activists and communities everywhere are working hard to lead all society to call out and authentically address the violent impacts of White Supremacy in policing, justice, education, health, community and in all systems and infrastructures across Turtle Island (North America). Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in every fabric of our society. This, as well as our violent colonial legacy of Indigenous erasure, constant gender discrimination and violence, and the violence and mistreatment of those in the disability community, are pervasive pressing truths that we need to face and address, daily, to make change in real ways. We need boldness, energy, honesty, deep listening and accountability, to generate sustained action and inversions of power in the immediate, medium and long term.
What can a community-engaged arts organization in Toronto like us do, to take up its role in this critical renaissance of justice? Join us in learning together with us, what this means.
SKETCH is deeply committed to supporting, learning from and amplifying the brave and creative leadership of young Black Artists and Activists. Check out Art in Pandemic and be inspired by the incredible work of young artists creating during this time.
We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.
Follow us at @SKETCHToronto, and reach out if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please support us to be a just, accountable and vibrant arts platform for young people on the margins! We need your help now more than ever!