TORONTO, June 23, 2022 – Elevate, Canada’s non-profit organization at the intersection of technology, arts, and social innovation, is announcing the inaugural cohort of creators selected to join the first-of-its-kind NFT (Non-Fungible Token) Residency Program, presented by TD Bank Group. With a suite of offerings, this program is designed to support underrepresented creators in funding, minting, and showcasing NFT art projects.
The NFT Residency Program will invest in 8 artists through access to mentorship, capital, and community, empowering them to step into the fast-paced NFT space and thrive. Through support of women, Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color, and LGTBQ+ creators, this residency program will spotlight NFTs and the incredible work of these creatives on a global stage.
“With the launch of the NFT Residency program, we’re immersing creators into the world of NFTs, funding their projects, and showcasing their stories. Given the barriers for artists in the mainstream art world, our goal with this residency program is to ensure that creatives from underrepresented communities are not left behind,” says Sen Sachi, VP Innovation at Elevate.
The inaugural cohort brings together a rich tapestry of creators, from multi-dimensional designers and illustrators to photographers and filmmakers. The first cohort features: Zoe Osborne, designer; Gajan Balan, photographer and filmmaker; Jyothee Murali, visual artist and painter; Shan Vincent De Paul, world creator; Lydia Pourmand, motion graphics, 3D design and illustration designer; Will Selviz, multi-dimensional designer and design technologist; Reena Mistry, co-creator of Humble Raja, visual artist and illustrator; and Whitney Horne, Indigenous owner and operator of WOOSHDU HEEN STUDIO in Teslin, Yukon.
The 4-month pilot will run from June to September and conclude with an opportunity for these creators to display their work this fall at Elevate’s physical NFT Art Gallery, presented by Interac, which will feature NFT pieces sourced from Canadian and global artists.
“The NFT space opens up a new, accessible asset class for collectors and, for the first time ever, a viable financial model for artists. It is no accident that this space has the largest concentration of full-time artists in the world,” says Anand Venkateswaran, mentor for the residency program, who is the Co-Founder and CEO of eDAO, a barge for Web2 brands, IP, and fans to launch at scale on Web3.
Barriers to diversity and inclusion continue to plague the traditional art world. Artists from underrepresented communities face barriers to entry as 92% of arts professionals in Canada are Caucasian, less than 4% are Indigenous, and visible minorities represent a little more than 4%, according to a survey by Canadian Art magazine. The numbers aren’t much better across the border, as 85% of artists whose work is housed in 18 major U.S. museums are white and 87% are male, according to a recent survey published in Fast Company. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as NFT art presents an innovative way for underrepresented creators to break into the largely homogenous art world and gain exposure, says Forbes.
“By sponsoring the creation of accessible ecosystem programs that directly support and shine a spotlight on the journeys of underrepresented creators, TD is proud to help drive purpose-driven innovation and inclusion in Canada’s evolving arts and technology landscape. With the launch of Elevate’s NFT Residency Program, artists can gain the resources, relationships, and experience to dive into the digital art world and the opportunities it has to offer,” explains Franklin Garrigues, Vice President of External Ecosystems at TD Bank Group.