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Making a Creative Difference in our Community

Supportive Arts Program | OTF Grant Boost

We are so thankful to our recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that will help us grow this community program over 3 years!  Our goal with this program is the enrich the lives of our community participants through arts-based learning opportunities and compelling artistic experiences.  The 3-year grant allows the Elora Centre for the Arts the opportunity to build on our proven model of our original program and increase the offered number of classes per week each year.

The expanded program was slated to launch in March of 2020, just before Covid-19 hit.  We rescheduled the launch date and it rolled out the week of September 29th, with a slightly reimagined approach to best suit the needs of our participants.  Various local partner centres who traditionally participate in our program are not running field trips at the moment and are limiting their activities to in-centre day programs only (if anything).  We decided we needed to shift our thinking to deliver the program despite restrictions, so for Phase 1 we are taking the program “on the road” and running it out of one of our partner’s day-facilities in Guelph.  We are loading up art project materials, art instructors and assistants twice a week to delivery the program at the Live & Learn Guelph location.

Phase 1 of the program expansion includes an ECFTA-lead art project followed by a movement & mindfulness session twice a week.  In the Fall of 2021 we are expanding the program to 3 workshops a week, and in the Fall of 2022, it expands to 4 workshop sessions per week.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation investment in this project will support positive change in our community to make it healthier and more vibrant across the next three years.

To view our mid-year evaluation report for this program, please click here.

To view our programming notes and weekly overview for YEAR ONE please click here.

To view our third-party evaluation report for Year 1 of this program, please click here.

Supportive Arts for Adults 18+ with Learning (Dis)Abilities


Previously our participants would gather each week and enjoy a guided morning workshop, specifically designed to support adults of varying abilities. Each Thursday we would embrace diversity through art making, movement and vocal explorations. Every week was as unique as each of our participants!  Workshops were lead by ECFTA Arts Educators and wonderful volunteers from our community, followed by joyous singing in the gallery lead by Chris from the Elora Festival Singers.





Planet Youth in Support of Youth Mental Health


This program includes an elementary school outreach component, where our ECFTA Arts Educators ‘take art on the road’ to school classrooms throughout the community.  For high school students, the ‘call for student artists’ is incorporated into their arts curriculum.  The goal for each year is to create a theme that connects back to mental health and self reflection, utilizing the creative project as the catalyst for sharing and dialogue.  The project partners with YouthTalk (a division of CMHA), UGDSB Support Services, CWDHS staff and others.

In 2019 our theme was “See the Forest Through the Trees:  an exhibition in support of youth mental health” where students learned about the strength and power of trees and how we can learn from their resilience.  Project were submitted and a jury selected over 120 pieces for the exhibition.   Over 600 people visited the exhibition, including the opening reception and several school field trips to the gallery.   A commemorative book was published to capture the exhibition and artist thoughts.

The program was supported by grants from The Ken Danby Legacy Fund at the Guelph Community Foundation, Neighbourwoods and Centre Wellington Community Foundation.


In 2020, the Planet Youth theme is #therealselfieproject in support of youth mental health will challenge students to reflect and consider their best and worst selves, celebrating a time or place when they were at their best or what their “self” looked like when it faced challenges.  The outreach project for 2020 is in process.  The exhibition date has not been set.


Youth Addiction & Recovery:  The Healing Power of Art & Creative Expression

In partnership with Portage Ontario Residential Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Centre for youth, Elora Centre for the Arts (ECFTA) has developed a creative and interactive program for students at Portage.  The program is currently on hold due to Covid-19 and our goal is to begin again as soon as Public Health deems it safe to do so in 2021.  The program offers arts-based programming in our classroom (one session includes 12 sessions).  Through individual and team-based art projects, students will have the opportunity to learn art techniques and practice the creative freedom of making mistakes, problem-solving and sharing using their projects as the catalyst.  The program will culminate in a public mural installation as well as work shown in a youth exhibition, and will include student reflections of their artistic journey.

Youth recovering from addiction have faced so many traumas in their lives, which have been further compounded by the societal stigma that comes when someone is deemed an addict.  The result is a young person left feeling marginalized and isolated from their community.  This project will welcome Portage residents with open arms, allowing them to develop and explore their creativity in a supported environment.  It will also open up the discussion of mental health on a broader community level among exhibition attendees.

The first pilot session of this program has been partially funded by a generous grant from the Centre Wellington Community Foundation and The Guelph Community Foundation.

To find out how you can help support this, and future programs like this please click here.