Founded in 2005 by theatre artists Claire Calnan and Pasha Mckenley, The AMY Project began as a program aimed at providing opportunities for young women from across the GTA to access live theatre and develop their writing and performance skills.
The passion and drive of the first small group of participants fuelled the forward movement of the company. In 2006 AMY launched our first full-scale Theatre Creation and Performance program, with acclaimed theatre director Weyni Mengesha joining Claire as Co-Artistic Director and continuing in that role until 2011. Participants of the Spring 2006 Theatre program were each matched with an individual mentor of their choosing from the local arts community. As a group, the participants built a collective performance piece that was staged that June at Theatre Passe Muraille, marking AMY’s first production.
In 2010 we began a partnership with Canadian Stage, who host the culminating workshop performance of the Spring Theatre Creation Program.
In 2011 we were incorporated as a registered charity with the CRA. Also in 2011, AMY launched our pilot Alumni Program, aimed at further serving the needs of the organization’s growing list of past participants.
In 2012, AMY’s Summer Theatre Performance Intensive began through a partnership with the SummerWorks Performance Festival.
In January 2015, Nikki Shaffeeullah joined AMY as the company’s new Artistic Director, bringing experience in community-engaged theatre, arts equity activism, and community organizing. Under Nikki’s leadership, The AMY Project has expanded our gender-based mandate to welcome non-binary youth, developed new programming that centres LGBTQ2 and BIPOC youth artists, and begun a consulting practice to support other organizations to deepen their capacities in anti-oppression and equity.
In 2017, AMY was honoured to receive the prestigious Arts For Youth award. Presented by the Toronto Arts Foundation, The Arts for Youth Award is a $20,000 prize that celebrates an individual, collective or organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to engaging Toronto’s youth through the arts and artistic creation.
From 2016-2018 AMY undertook a series of organizational development projects, a highlight of which was being a 2017-2018 resident company at Generator, a mentoring, teaching, and innovation incubator for performing arts producers and companies.
In 2018, we began a new relationship with Why Not Theatre, with whom we share office space.
From 2016-2019 The AMY Project expanded our offerings to include several new programs: the Film Program, Performance Creation Program for Trans Women and Trans Femmes (formerly called the Performance Poetry Program), the Write On Residency for emerging playwrights, the Design and Production Mentorship Program, and the AMY Community Program. We have also carried out partnered programs, including MARQUEE (a musical theatre workshop series for LGBTQ2 youth in partnership with Musical Stage Company) and the national JRG Grant for Artists with Disabilities (in partnership with JRG Society for the Arts in 2018).
AMY has developed into one of the most highly respected community arts programs in the Greater Toronto Area. Our programs have broadly influenced the sector, and our practice of working in close partnership with other community and arts organizations and with a range of artists has embedded us deep in the arts ecology of the region.