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Making a Creative Difference in our Community

Supportive Arts Program | OTF Grant Boost

We are so thankful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow Grant that helped 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 allowed 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.  So, for year 1 we decided we needed to shift our thinking to deliver the program despite restrictions – we took the program “on the road” and ran it out of one of our partner’s day-facilities in Guelph.  We loaded up art project materials, art instructors and assistants twice a week to delivery the program at the Live & Learn Guelph location.  The program moved “virtual” for several months but we we so happy to return BACK to in-person workshops and sessions at the Elora Centre for the Arts!

Phase 1 of the program expansion included an ECFTA-lead art project followed by a movement & mindfulness session twice a week.  In the Fall of 2021 we expanded the program to 3 workshops a week, and in the Fall of 2022, the program expanded again to 4 in-person workshops per week!

The Ontario Trillium Foundation investment in this project had a major impact in the way we can support positive change in our community to make it healthier and more vibrant!

Our Outreach Programs – How we serve community!  Watch the video here.

Meet the Artists of Supportive Arts!  Watch the video here.


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.

To view our program review, YEAR TWO – March 2022 please click here.

To view our program evaluation report, YEAR TWO – January 2022 please click here.

To view our program evaluation report, YEAR THREE – June 2023 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 mindfulness or joyous singing.





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 was #therealselfieproject in support of youth mental health and challenged 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 exhibition and larger program was postponed due to Covid-19.


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.  Initially the program was on hold due to Covid-19 however we are back on track to launch our first 6-week session in January 2022.  The program offers arts-based programming in our classroom and gallery (a 6-week program includes 12 sessions).  Through individual and team-based art projects and activities, 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.

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.

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.  Our goal is to source funding so that program can run for an entire school year, ongoing.

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





Students with Mild Intellectual Disabilities: Community Connections Through Art.

This program is designed to help connect students in the M.I.D / Life Skills program in elementary & high school to the important issues in their community.  It utilizes engaging and informative art projects as the conduit for community connections, personal well-being, belonging and mental health support. The program is run by an Arts Instructor from the Elora Centre for the Arts, and all supplies are included.

Our goal is to offer this program for an entire school year – twice a month for elementary students and twice a month for secondary students.

We are thankful for the generous support of the Centre Wellington Community Foundation, Covid-19 Community Response Fund Grant that will partially support this program.