A.R.T.'s 150+ Reasons Murals now installed in the TTC Subway Stations!

We are very excited to let you know that the 150+ Reasons Mural project is now installed in 38 TTC subway stations throughout the City of Toronto. 

Attached is a digital version of the map, to guide you through this beautiful underground art gallery which showcases (60) hand painted murals created by youth from across Canada. 

150 reasons mural a.r.t. in action map of murals
mural map of youth artists in toronto 150+ reasons

150+ Reasons Mural Installation Launch Date

We are excited to share the date for the 150+ Reasons Mural project media launch with all of you. If you happen to be in Toronto on May 26, 2017, the media launch will take place at 11:00 am, for approximately 1 hour, at Scarborough Town Centre. The 150+ Reasons Murals will be displayed, some as original artwork and others in digital form at this event. 

The original artwork will be installed throughout the TTC Subway system late June, and will remain on display throughout the summer. Once VibeArts know which subway station will display each of the murals, a map will be created which will be shared with everyone.

If you have an opportunity to visit Toronto anytime during the summer months, please check out this wonderful underground art display and see the two murals A.R.T. In Action was able to help create with youth in Ottawa and in Arviat, Nunavut.

150 reasons a.r.t. in action vibe arts youth artists

Schedule for the drop-in center in Arviat, Nunavut

Wahoo! Our A.R.T.ist, Elizabeth (Ilisapi) Gordon is on route for our second year providing free art workshops to the youth in Arviat, Nunavut! In addition to our free workshops, the youth, in partnership with VIBE Arts for 150 Reasons, will be completing a mural that will be on display in Toronto's transit system for 8 weeks! SO EXCITED!

arviat, nunavut, free art workshops, ottawa, a.r.t. in action ottawa art

Bringing VibeArts' 150+ Reasons to Ability First Ottawa and youth in Arviat

vibearts 150 reasons why we love canada art in action ottawa

In partnership with Vibe Arts in Toronto, we're excited to announce that we're part of a nationwide project that celebrates Canada's 150th Birthday. Titled 150+ Reasons, Vibe Arts has asked us, along with many other organizations across Canada, to facilitate a mural project with our youth participants.

These 4' x 6' chloroplast panels that have been shipped to us, will be personalized with the youth's ideas of why they love Canada and will be on display in Toronto's subway system for eight weeks. We're excited to announce that with the help of our contributors we're able to facilitate this workshop both here in Ottawa, for Ability First Ottawa, and again in Arviat, Nunavut.

The program in Ottawa runs:
Mondays and Thursdays from 1-3pm with the final day being Thursday, March 23, 2017
Located at CollabSpace, 70 Bongard Ave. 
Facilitated by: Mailyne Briggs // Anona Kosmack

Feel free to drop-in or contact us to join the fun! 

Follow us on Instagram (@artinactionott) and Facebook. We'll keep you up to date as it unfolds!

Ability First Ottawa youth on Day 2 of 150+ Reasons Mural Project

Ability First Ottawa youth on Day 2 of 150+ Reasons Mural Project

FUNDRAISER | Launch of Ottawa's first ever colouring book for anyone

a.r.t. in action fundraiser colouring book ottawa

An Ottawa local by the name of Christine Kumchy has passionately dedicated herself to bringing artists and people who love to draw together for the release of the first ever Ottawa Colouring Book for Anyone. This is a community fundraiser in support of art and mental health and she has kindly chosen A.R.T. In Action to be the donors. We couldn't be more thankful!

This colouring book is a great Christmas gift while supporting a worthy cause! Come out and see the art that has been produced and have some fun! Colouring will be available, and a live DJ, Chris International, will be in the house!

You can pre-order the book here:

$10 or $2 for $15! Ottawa's First Ever Colouring Book For Anyone
from 10.00

A 24 page book of images created by local artists in Ottawa and people who like to draw. The proceeds from this colouring book benefitart and mental health and support A.R.T. In Action's free art workshops in Ottawa and Arviat, Nunavut. Images range from quite simple to complex in detail, inviting creativity for anyone.

Add To Cart

Ability First Ottawa X A.R.T. Schedule

We're excited to be offering twelve weeks of art programming to Ability First Ottawa starting October 3. The final day will be an art show showcasing all the work from the participants, with proceeds going to Ability First Ottawa. 

ability first ottawa art workshop
ability first ottawa art schedule
ability first ottawa art schedule
ability first ottawa art schedule
ability first ottawa art schedule


Hamlet of Arviat x A.R.T. In Action | ROUND...2?!

It has been a busy time for us. As you know, we're just a small volunteer-run organization that operates on the hours between full-time work, mom life and running our businesses. It's impressive that in less than a year we have been able to accomplish so much with so little. 

This past summer, we were able to send a volunteer A.R.T. Educator and a core member of our team up to Arviat, Nunavut to facilitate a ten day workshop. The experience provided us with insight into the complexity of the situation for youth living in Arviat. It gave us a broader understanding of what is lacking in terms of resources and programs. Our workshop brought in a younger age group than we were expecting and while we always plan to do multiple art forms, the nature of our work is that we end up going with the flow of the participants. 

That means, if they only want to paint then they can. Sara managed to incorporate paper sculpting, painting on found objects, print-making and for the last half of the program, youth were able to collaborate and paint two murals. We also were able to pay youth for their submissions into the annual A.R.T. Magazine. It's a new project that we've quietly been working on, like we do with many things until they are ready, but feel free to poke around. 

Day 1- "Later on, a few youth entered who appeared to be teen-aged.  They were extremely shy and when I attempted to engage them in a painting lesson, they responded that they preferred to work with the materials informally.  In my experience, community arts projects survive on flexibility and the willingness to allow for spontaneity and change so I’m not one to push.  Especially in these early stages of trying to build trust and relationships with the participants, allowing for choice and the right to pass are essential." - Sara's journal

Sara kept a journal of her time up there. It invoked such a strong emotion in me that immediately I wished I had been there and that we could remain there longer. 

arviat a.r.t in action youth in northern canada need programming

Day 2 - "Today, one of the youth I had encountered yesterday, a 16 year old who is deaf, was distraught by something.  She wanted to participate but told another participant, that she had had a nightmare and was feeling unwell.  She was clearly feeling very upset and I wished I could talk to her, but she was very shy and communication was, naturally, an obstacle.

She left a note in her sketchbook that read, in English, “I wish I had ear that I can hear.”  

It was heartbreaking.

It seemed so intimately personal and yet, I think she left it for us to read.  She wanted to communicate her pain to us in not being able to be included in the conversation.  Not knowing either Inuktitut or ASL was a barrier for us but we were trying our best.  She came for the evening session and the first thing she painted was an entirely black canvas.

Immediately I saw red flags and was very concerned for her, but as the evening progressed, she eventually came around.  She hadn’t been willing to sign the consent form but she enjoyed playing with my Snapchat app and kept taking silly selfies of myself and her with little messages about how she would miss us when we left.

Her sister came later and was very helpful, acting as translator. It was wonderful to see her more in her element and happy."
- Sara's journal

Photography by Sara Bessin

Photography by Sara Bessin

Day 5 - "As we were working, one youth told me about how her uncle committed suicide just last winter, at the age of 18 – he hadn’t yet even completed high school.  I asked her if she knew a lot of people who had suffered the same fate and she raised her eyebrows and nodded. She said it’s a big problem here.  Many people succumb to their feelings of isolation and despair in the hamlets. This desperate situation I often read about became very real." - Sara's journal

Reading through it, it's clear to us that the work we want to do in Arviat is extremely important. We aren't just there to make art and provide programming, we're there to be a positive influence in the lives of the youth, to listen and to show them there are people that care. 

But we can only do that if we're able to continue to go up and be involved. As many experienced educators in this line of work know, when you pop into someone's life and disappear as quickly as you came, you're just proving to them they can't trust anyone. You're reminding them that they can't get close to anyone because that person will just abandon them eventually.

Although our number of participants were lower than anticipated, we were excited that youth came out. We were able to feed them, paint with them and talk with them. We paid out youth for their art work and now two beautiful murals are part of Arviat. 

The truth is that it's never about the numbers for us. When we apply for grants, often they are interested in how many participants were involved. How many came and showed up and this determines if the project is worth funding. We're still small but we're mighty and we understand more than ever that numbers aren't what matter most. If we can touch even one person's life through art, then we are doing our job. Regardless of whether or not we have twenty people show up or two, or if we're government funded or not, we'll still continue A.R.T. In Action because we know we do make a difference. 

There is so much we have learned in Arviat for next time. 

Yes, you heard right - the next time. Because we're going up again.. and again... and again. Last week we had a meeting with the Hamlet of Arviat and we're REALLY EXCITED to announce our permanent, long-term partnership agreement with the Hamlet of Arviat and the Government of Nunavut. And yes we have that in writing, for real though. Currently we are developing a longer program (hopefully a month or more) for next year. Our understanding is that in the winter months, programming is needed more than ever. Our goal for the future, is to be able to train and pay a local arts facilitator to keep our program going for the time periods that we are unable to be there and while we have many, many hours of work ahead, we're inspired more than ever. 

This is us doing mom duty while also receiving news that the Hamlet of Arviat would like to permanently support A.R.T. In Action! 

This is us doing mom duty while also receiving news that the Hamlet of Arviat would like to permanently support A.R.T. In Action! 

To everyone that continues to support us, thank you. Thank you to Sara Bessin for being part of our first satellite program and a very special thank you to Keith and Michelle for making sure that we can continue our relationship with the youth in Arviat. We are so excited to come back!

With Love,
Executive Director

Community Foundation of Ottawa x A.R.T. x Ability First

Photo courtesy of Dream Love Grow.

Photo courtesy of Dream Love Grow.

A few weeks ago we were contacted by the Community Foundation of Ottawa. They wanted to support our program! However, we were not a registered charity. Could we find a charitable organization to partner with? they asked, so we decided to partner with Ability First Ottawa. Ability First Ottawa is a charitable organization that provides support and programming to people living with disabilities in Ottawa. 

The youth at AFO love making art, but there just isn't enough funding or art educators to maintain frequent art programs and while I had volunteered to facilitate a zero waste art workshop with them previously, the truth is that in order to do more of what we want to do, we need to be able to pay our facilitators. Like everyone else, they need money to eat, pay their bills and pay for other expenses, like childcare. Every donation helps us to be able to continue our programming and keep in line with our values of paying our instructors and providing art workshops for free to youth. 

We are happy to say that starting October, with the help of the CFO, we will be hosting our popular twelve week art workshop with Ability First Ottawa on Monday evenings! 

community foundation of ottawa supports artists
Since 1987, the Community Foundation of Ottawa has been enabling generous citizens to enhance the quality of life in their community and to achieve their own charitable objectives through permanent, well-managed endowments.
— http://www.cfo-fco.ca

A huge thank you to the Community Foundation of Ottawa!!!

What we're up to in Arviat, Nunavut and meet our newest art educator Sara Bessin

We had a lot of amazing applications sent in for our volunteer position in Arviat for the next ten days. We were fortunate enough that with the help of the Government of Nunavut, the Hamlet of Arviat and amazing sponsors and donors, that we were able to provide:

  • accommodations including hotel
  • round trip airfare
  • a per diem/honorarium for the volunteer
  • art supplies
  • supplies for the youth to keep at home
  • monetary compensation for 20 youth submissions into our new end of year A.R.T. Book/Magazine (to be announced in full detail soon)

We sincerely thank everyone for helping make this a reality. 

While we're up there, we'll be teaching painting, mixed media, jewelry making, entrepreneurship, print design, creative writing, working on two community murals, one of which is to represent Canada's 150 next year and having an end of program ALL NIGHT paint party. Mind you, the "night" is only from 11PM to 3AM these days. 

As mentioned before 60% of Arviat's population is under 25. There are few resources up and activities for the youth to do. Indigenous suicide is a prevalent issue and the Government of Nunavut is committed to combatting this in Nunavut through programs such as ours. 

Our initial volunteer was a youth aged 25 with experience organizing and facilitating youth workshops, as well as experience running his own small arts company. However, timing didn't work out and no matter, a wonderful woman named Sara will be going up with our president to help bring art to the community.

Let's meet her:

Artist: Sara Bessin 

Artist: Sara Bessin 

SARA BESSIN is a Toronto born multi-disciplinary artist and educator.  Starting as an artist and activist, Sara 's work was chosen for the campaign posters for the Anti-Child Exploitation Campaign in affiliation with ACAT in 2000.  The body of work she created for this project was exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva Switzerland in 2001. Sara then entered the Community Arts Sector, having trained through the Engrenage Noir - Levier community arts training and exchange program.  She holds a diploma in Art Education Specialization from Concordia University, Montreal and has since pursued studies with York University and with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

With funding and support from the Engrenage Noir Levier program, she coordinated and directed the community arts project "Raising Mom" with the Young Parents Program of Head and Hands from 2005 to 2007.  She facilitated the making of a collaborative documentary of the process which was screened at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil in 2009.  The film and project are also featured in the publication "Célébrer la collaboration: Art communautaire et activiste humaniste au Québec et ailleurs”.

Sara has worked in affiliation with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, En Masses Pour Les Masses and the QPAT Teachers Convention. She has been a speaker and presenter at the Kairos Anti-Poverty Forum, LEVIER Community Arts Forum and the Common Wealth Community Arts Conference.

Sara is most interested in collaborative initiatives that affect social change through holistic and transformational educational approaches.

She and her family recently relocated from Montreal to Belleville Ontario,  where she founded and directs the Visual Arts Program at the local chapter of the YMCA and teaches with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

We're happy to have you be a part of the team Sara!

Once again, THANK YOU EVERYONE. We look forward to sharing all of the photos and videos of our time up in Arviat in the next coming weeks. 

With Love, 
Executive Director

Artist: Sara Bessin

Artist: Sara Bessin

Artist: Sara Bessin

Artist: Sara Bessin

VIDEO: Artists come together to raise funds for workshops up North

Over the weekend we were given the greatest pleasure of being the recipients for a fundraiser thrown by a kind, selfless gentleman named Adam Guzman-Poole. Inspired by what we were doing for the youth in Arviat, Nunavut, he took it upon himself (sacrificing sleep and many hours) to pull together talented artists, musicians and volunteers to fundraise $1000 for A.R.T. In Action. Everything took place at a local community house in Sandy Hill called Faith House. Seeing the evening unfold, I truly saw what type of soul Adam is, as the people that filled the space truly reflected the kindness of his heart.

As spoken word poet Khaleefa mentioned:

"When Adam called me and asked me to be a part of a fundraiser, I said yes immediately. I didn't even know what it was for!"

That's Love. 

What an incredible evening full of laughter, music, good food and deep soul. My skin was covered in goose-bumps and my heart felt full being able to see and hear all forms of art shared - all for the sake of wanting to help bring free art to others. Through this soul work that has been my life for years, I truly understand the importance of art. I see that it is not just myself that has used art as a way to heal, to connect to spirit and use it to learn about the world. There are countless numbers of us. This whole space welcomed many who have felt the deep influence of art and many more who simply appreciate it.

We absolutely need art in our lives. And it surrounds us daily, in many forms and often without us realizing. It is up to us to take the time to appreciate it as it comes, in whichever form it takes and as artists it is up to us to decide what we want our message to be. Our intention at A.R.T. In Action is to use art for good, for inspiration, for positivity and for community. And if this is the kind of crowd that surrounds us because of it, we are incredibly thankful. 

As I walked around the house that night, soaking in all of the people of different ages, immersing myself in the good vibes and sharing in the joy as many walked away with great treasures from the raffle, I was struck by the kindness in human nature and I was reminded of why A.R.T. In Action began and why we must continue the work for as long as we can. 

Thank you to all who believe in what we do. We honestly can not do it without your help and your constant inspiration. 

With Love,
Executive Director

Check out a short video recap of the night

Many thank you's must be had

Thank you to the following (apologies because I know I'm missing a few artists and names so PLEASE comment below if you contributed in ANY WAY because we NEED to thank you):

  • Adam Guzman-Poole
  • Penelope Guzman-Poole
  • Arif White Lion Jaina
  • Naomi Athena and Jeremy Sills
  • Khaleefa ApollotheChild Jubber
  • Lucila Al Mar
  • Barclay McMillan
  • Arqsanirq Sevigny
  • Mowafak Nema
  • Grace Wellness
  • DaBaby
  • Gary Bernett
  • Dream Love Grow
  • Faith Community House (and all the members)

Feel inspired? Want to throw a fundraiser of your own? Or just want to get involved? Get in touch with us! 

Name *