The Brain Project: Breaking the Fundraising Mould through Public Art

By 2011 close to 15% of the Canadian population over 65 was afflicted with Alzheimer ’s disease or another age-related dementia, and those numbers are growing. The overwhelming odds are that you or someone you know has been affected by a dementia. It’s devastating to those afflicted with it; it’s a grand scale hardship for our families and friends who live with it; and its prevalence means that the impact on our social and economic system makes it everyone’s concern. It is costing Canadians over $30 billion a year (in direct and indirect costs), and that figure may grow ten-fold by as soon as 2040 if more action isn’t taken to fight it.*

What is being done to further raise awareness and fund the research needed to battle this beast? With the help of Telus, the Baycrest Foundation (@Baycrest) is spearheading the fight through their public art-centred initiative, called simply: The Brain Project. Inspired by the success of NYC’s annual Faberge Egg Hunt (@TheBigEggHuntNY), the campaign was conceived over 18 months ago by Co-Chairs, Erica & Noah Godfrey and Jessica & Ben Mulroney. By the time the campaign reaches fruition this June, 100 uniquely adorned brains will be prominently installed in dozens of high profile areas around Toronto, such as: Nathan Phillips Square, the site of Mayor John Tory’s press conference on the subject on Monday, April 25th; The Distillery District; and Union Station. Each corporate and privately sponsored piece has been exclusively festooned by a commissioned artist. While most are Canadian, some of the artists have brought their talents from the U.S. and overseas. All contributors were hand-picked to participate in the initiative, including Toronto artist, Ekow Nimako (@EkowNimako).

Since the Baycrest Foundation took the reins, the project has proven to be an epic journey for everyone involved, including Toronto design/build specialists Performance Solutions (PS), who were selected to build the brains. Known primarily for our successful work in special effects, set design and construction, movie props, and experiential marketing support, Performance Solution’s knack for embracing and delivering unique ideas, such as this one, made us the logical choice to execute the custom design and painstaking fabrication process, required to complete the project.

What goes into mass-producing a brain that’s big enough to make a bold artistic statement, strong enough to withstand the elements, yet light enough to work with, transport and eventually display? Love. Well… love and ‘Injection-Moulded-Fast-Set-Rapid-Curing-Aromatic-Two-Part-Expanded-Polystyrene-Foam-Spray,’ to be precise, (EP for short). For PS, the process was challenging and labour-intensive, and the timelines were tight, but we came through in the end (as we always do), economically delivering the initial 64 brains. As the project gained momentum, a second set of brains was requested. PS was able to further refine the fabrication process and deliver in an even more efficient timeline. The more we work with this dynamic product, the more we realize the myriad of possibilities that EP offers. Its durability makes it ideal for exterior applications, such as public art installations. Bring us your project and we’ll promise to wrap our brains around it [*groan] and deliver, just like we have for the Baycrest Foundation.

Big thanks to the Baycrest Foundation for choosing to work with us on this amazing project!

For more specifics about the project, including how you might become involved at the individual or corporate level, please visit:

For more insight into age-related dementias, including facts or to make a donation, please visit our friends at Baycrest here:

For more about Toronto artist Ekow Nimako, please check him out here:

*all statistics adapted from


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