Institute of Public Art and Sustainability

Tackling issues like equity, inclusivity and ecological resilience in the arts sector.

About the project:

Public art can contribute to thriving public spaces, build community, elevate marginalized perspectives and boost mental health and well-being. It can also surprise and delight. At Evergreen, we define public art as artwork in indoor or outdoor spaces that is free and accessible, tackling pressing environmental, civic, cultural, social, and political issues.


For all its benefits, we know that public art produces vast amounts of material waste, which ends up in landfills. It can also be hard for Indigenous and racialized artists and arts workers to find stable work in the public art sector, making it inequitable and exclusionary. For public art to truly contribute to great public places, we need to address these systemic issues.


This is the motivation behind the Institute for Public Art and Sustainability (IPAS). As an evolution of the Evergreen Public Art Program, IPAS combines research and practice to drive sustainability from both an ecological and arts community lens, with the goal of supporting and sustaining public art for future generations.


Let’s imagine bold new ways for public art to be sustainable for the planet and for the people who make it.


Curatorial Team:

  • Charlene K. Lau: art historian, critic, and Curator of Public Art at Evergreen
  • Alexis Nanibush-Pamajewong: Two-Spirit Anishinaabe interdisciplinary artist, Curatorial Assistant at Evergreen

Community Directors:

  • Ange Loft: Kanien’kehá:ka interdisciplinary performing artist, workshop facilitator, arts-based researcher
  • Jacqueline L. Scott: scholar, writer and activist on race and nature, volunteer land steward and hike leader


  • Artist Material Fund
  • OCAD University’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program
  • Synthetic Collective
  • Centre for Sustainable Curating
  • The Bentway

Public art as a lever for change

Tackling the obstacles in the Canadian arts ecosystem.

Create and produce public art that tells the Indigenous, cultural, ecological, and industrial histories of the Evergreen Brick Works site and surrounding ravine system.

Collaborate with community partners to build a more equitable, sustainable and resilient arts sector.

Engage artists and arts workers from Indigenous and racialized communities, sharing land, space, resources and amenities at Evergreen Brick Works.

Use research on public art and sustainability to inform practice.

Use the power of the arts to create better public spaces for all.

What this looks like

To build capacity, re-Indigenize and promote anti-colonial practices in the arts sector, IPAS is helping artists through mentorship opportunities, access to resources, pathways to employment and partnerships developed through the Institute. Here are the outcomes we’re looking to deliver:

  • Reflect on more stories and histories of Indigenous and racialized people at Evergreen Brick Works.
  • Support more artists and arts workers by offering space and resources at a time when there is an arts space crisis in Toronto.
  • Produce more sustainable artwork and generate less waste.
  • Develop more community-led programming through partners and IPAS Community Directors, while inviting them to hold us accountable.
  • Engage more visitors to Evergreen Brick Works with the Indigenous, cultural, ecological, and industrial histories of the site and surrounding ravine system.
  • Nationally scale our expertise in creating great public spaces through art.

“Contemporary art is struggling for sustainability. There are these challenges of environmental degradation and the difficulty for racialized artists and artworkers to sustain themselves due to systemic barriers. Indigenous and racialized artists are still not appropriately represented on arts governing bodies in Canada.” 

Charlene K. Lau
Curator of Public Art Program, Evergreen

Our stories

Supported by

The Institute for Public Art and Sustainability is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. 

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