507 and Centretown United team up on art studio project

February 16, 2011

Within the community of men and women who frequent drop-ins and live in rooming houses, shelters or on the street, there are some you may have met in galleries or museums if life had happened more gently. They are artists. They are artists often without paper or canvas, paint or pencil, camera or carving tools.

A source of dignity and meaning in life
To be an artist is not merely to have an interest or even a talent. It is an integral and defining aspect of who one is. The lack of an outlet for artistic expression can be painful, especially for those already shunted to the outer edges of society. It can rob the person of dignity and a sense of meaning in life.

Equipped studio space
A joint effort of Centretown United Church and Centre 507, the Artistic Expressions project aims to provide an equipped studio space to artists in our community who are living with serious challenges.

This project will offer our participants the dignity of being recognised as artists, a safe and friendly place to practice their art, and contact with local artists as colleagues and mentors.

How it will work
Participating men and women will be given a membership entitling them to free access to the studio space and supplies during fixed hours of operation. Coffee and snacks will create a friendly atmosphere and encourage interaction. To be housed in the former chapel of Centretown United Church, the studio will initially be open twice a month for three to four hours, starting in March 2011.

Established artists to help out
Plans include inviting established artists to the studio to serve as a bridge between our members and the larger artistic community. The guest artists will encourage and mentor participants both informally and through regularly scheduled workshops.

Project status
As of early February, about $5,000 had been raised for the project: a $2,500 Seeds of Hope grant from the United Church, $500.contributions from Centretown United’s Mission and Outreach Committee and the United Church Women’s Group, and about $2,000 from the sale of pews from the chapel. Thanks to these contributions, the Artistic Expressions Working Group is now developing a plan to start transforming the space. Lisa Thomas, who is in charge of the Arts Program at Glebe St. James, has already sketched some working drawings for us to begin reconfiguring the chapel space. Another grant application to the United Church of Canada is being prepared.

How you can help
This ambitious project has the potential to change lives. But it will depend on a team of volunteers and an ongoing supply of art materials. We will need people to help in the studio and behind the scenes as we contact local artists, search out art supplies and get the word out on the streets.

If this project speaks to you, and you feel you would like to contribute to it in some way, please contact Centretown United’s Minister, the Rev. David Illman-White, at 613-232-9854 or Contact the Minister. Or, you can contact the Manager of Centre 507, Caroline Ann Giekes, at 613-233-5626 or Contact the manager

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