Arts Blog - #BreakTheBarriersInitiative

Imagine having art classes being offered in your local downtown.

Then you find out they are being facilitated by professional working artists that are getting paid nationally recommended instructor rates for artists. Now you find out that the pricing is flexible and you can literally ‘Pay What You Can’.
This was a pretty nice daydream that took place at the SSAC office about a year ago when then executive director, Len MacLeod, and I were thinking big one day about how the arts could support a healthier and more engaged community. Out of that came what is now a reality; the SSAC’s Arts4All #BreakTheBarriersInitiative. This Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed grant funded program is allowing us to do just that and we were over the moon finding ourselves off and running! In October 2018 the SSAC office officially jumped into the creation of a program with some pretty spectacular mandates:

  • Seek out and actively reduce the barriers that keep our community from participating in and experiencing the arts (such as cost, travel, location, etc.)

  • Hire professional working artists in all areas of the arts. Pay them CAR/FAC rates.

  • Reach out and find the areas of our population that are most in need to access to the arts.

  • Provide access to nutritious foods to further enhance the possible benefits to a participant’s well being.

  • Provide a total of 70 low cost/no-cost/pay what you can workshops to take place throughout the South Simcoe area for all ages and abilities.

  • Partner with local service groups and provide opportunity for their clients in need to access our Arts4All workshops at no cost.
  • Workshops began rolling out in the new year. Registrations for our very first ‘pay what you can’ opportunity were coming in fast and at first we found people were excited but very confused. What was this “pay what you can?” “How much do we owe you?” We couldn’t possibly be offering such affordable workshops; but we were. Parents are sharing how thrilled they
    are to be able to access affordable arts classes and participants are expressing joy over the fun and uplifting experiences that are being provided. At a recent painting party one participant said, “I feel like I’ve been on vacation”.
    Where does it go from here? Workshops are being added to our calendar regularly and there has been a surge of talented professional artists contacting us with the desire to teach under this grant that will run through fall 2019.

    [Published in ArtsTalk April 2019]