Artshine, a mobile art class concept, is on the move.
The organization founded by Paul Field in 2015 and initially established in Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo, has really taken off and now is expanding into several regions.
Artshine, along with sister non-profit Arts4All, forms a mobile art social enterprise. Instructors, who are artists themselves, travel to students with supplies in order to make art accessible and affordable with a variety of different supplies such as scratch paper, sandpaper, watercolours, acrylic paint, pencil crayons, metallic markers, and 3D clay projects.
Over the years they have expanded to Niagara, Barrie, Kapuskasing, Ottawa, Orillia, the GTA.
This past year, the company expanded its reach outside of Ontario with the introduction of their first Montreal program. Their latest expansion efforts include Brantford and Hamilton.
Guelph Artshine general manager Elana Chand said the name of the nonprofit Arts4all is what the mission statement is for the whole company.
With a primary focus on delivering its services in schools, Artshine runs during lunchtime or after school so it can function as an extracurricular activity where parents don’t have to place their kids in off-site classes.
With 20 diverse curriculums in English and French that run eight weeks each, the organization also offers its art services in organizations for people living with disabilities, senior centres, prisons and at-risk youth shelters. The organization also offers subsidized pricing to organizations that cannot afford to pay the full price.
Two children from a class of 20 are offered a full sponsorship with Arshine that goes towards free classes.
Field created this program because he was frustrated with cuts to funding when he worked as a social worker. He put his experience of youth engagement, social work and art education towards building a self-sufficient business model to educate and make a difference in the community.
“Artshine and Arts4all together are devoted to creating a community where participation in the arts is available to people of all levels of income ability and life circumstances,” said Chand.
By being a social enterprise, any profit collected from Artshine proceeds directly to Arts4all.
“That's how we give back to the community,” said Chand.
By expanding its organization into new cities, the company hopes to enhance the quality of life of at-risk and underprivileged individuals by building up their confidence and teaching them to express themselves through the medium of art.
Chand said staff notice the enriching experiences of Artshine when they hear stories from childrens’ parents that have seen improvements in their child’s confidence, skills, and ability to express themselves.
“We receive a lot of feedback from school principals saying that our programming allows students to express their creativity in a setting that offers a balance of both inquiry learning and guided instruction,” said Chand.
“But the most rewarding feedback we receive is from students who express their own gratitude in having arts made accessible to them and hearing their pride when they’ve completed a project that is better than what they thought they could make.”