International Artist Day was launched in 2004 as a way of celebrating all forms of art and creative expression. It can be hard to make the time for the arts, especially during the pandemic, but having a creative outlet can benefit both your physical and mental health. From dance, to painting, to music, art can lead to positive changes and build lasting connections. This International Artist Day, learn about the work these inspirational charities are doing and the lives they are helping to change as the pandemic stretches on.
Generous Support Helps Lewin Follow his Passion
Leslie has always known what music meant to her eight-year-old son, Lewin. When they decided to move permanently to Canada in 2019, she began looking for opportunities for her son to continue to follow his passion. When she found out about Creative Kids, she was glad such a program existed.
She says playing the piano helps Lewin express himself, build his self-esteem, and practice self-discipline. Despite in-person gathering restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewin is able to take piano lessons via Zoom with the Studio of Sarah Clark Gregory. Last Christmas, he played his favourite Christmas songs, recorded them, and sent them to his teacher for their online recital. He also shared the recorded video with his family members in the Philippines. “It was a wonderful experience for him as we got to upload it on YouTube for his dad and grandparents to watch,” she says.
Leslie is grateful for the support of Creative Kids. “It is really a big help for me, especially during this pandemic,” she says. “Your kindness and support brought joy to my child.”
Learn more and make a donation in support of Creative Kids today.
National accessArts Centre
Connecting Artists from a Distance
Isolation is a norm for many of our artists, even on the best of days, but during these difficult times, mental health and social isolation can be detrimental to us all. Many of our artists turn to the arts to explore their creativity, connect with peers and feel proud of their artistic contributions, but we know – and learned even more so through this pandemic – that the arts have the power to change lives. That’s why our team at the National accessArts Centre knew that we had to find a way to keep our artists connected to the arts even during a pandemic.
One mother shared a story about how accessing online art classes helped her son during the lockdowns. She writes, “Riley takes a long time to warm up to people and I am not always clear how much he feels part of any group. When you contacted us about Zoom calls, Riley lit up. Every week he is so happy to see familiar faces, connect with his friends and the staff he adores. After each call, he talks endlessly about… the art they created together. He is pushing himself to try new mediums and is proud of each piece he makes.”
At the National accessArts Centre, we might not be able to physically gather together but by making room for creativity, our community remains connected.
Learn more and make a donation in support of the National accessArts Centre today.
UrbanArts Dance Improves Lives of Participants During Lockdown & Beyond!
UrbanArts dance program harnesses the unifying force of dance and movement to change the lives of youth through healthy lifestyle practices and physical activity in seven of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs). While the pandemic has made offering physical programs a challenge, a digital version of the 1, 2 Step: Healthy Living Through Hip Hop Dance program was run throughout the lockdowns and beyond.
One participant of the program learned to embrace dance and movement, even while being confined at home. For them, dance was a safe way of expressing themselves when times were challenging. “UrbanArts dance program encouraged me to dance,” the participant said. “They provided a safe, non-judgmental, free open space for me to learn and work on my dance skills.”
As more Canadians are living a sedentary lifestyle due to the pandemic, making time for dance can have a very real impact on improving health and helping people lead happier lives.
Learn more and make a donation in support of UrbanArts Toronto today.
Helping Victims of Violence Through Movement
Since 2010, Montréal Danse has been combining art and social action with the program Danse contre la violence (Dance Against Violence). By offering movement workshops to female victims of violence and their children, Danse contre la violence helps them reclaim their bodies and regain their self-esteem, thus contributing to their recovery. With the pandemic, these moments of well-being have become very important for the participants as a way to battle anxiety and to provide a positive opportunity to rediscover themselves.
This was the case for one participant who had been forbidden to dance her whole life and who, like a cry from the heart, exclaimed in the middle of a workshop: “I’ve never moved like this, I love it!”
There is also the story of a woman suffering from mental illness who, stunned, stopped her movement, declaring that she could feel her body (which had never happened to her) and that it felt good!
Since its foundation in 2010, 530 workshops have been offered in collaboration with our partners, helping thousands of women and children.
Learn more and make a donation in support of Montreal Danse today.
Reigniting a Love for Performance
Photo by Dahlia Katz
The shutting down of performance venues and studios due to COVID- 19 restrictions put many dancers in a tough place. Dance artists had to go from creating and performing in spaces that accommodate the creative process, to having to either create in unconventional spaces or not create at all. Many also lost performance bookings and jobs. This has impacted dancers’ mental health and overall livelihood. Despite our world’s standstill, the community was able to produce new opportunities for creative expression and connections.
The world premiere of Mukuthô this past August can truly attest to this. This work, which was co-presented by dance Immersion and Canadian Stage, brought together creatives Casimiro Nhussi and Pulga Muchochoma, two dancers of Mozambican heritage. Mukuthô focused on the importance of connecting with our ancestors, a message that was well needed and received by the community during this time. This work was also one of the first live performances that many people had attended since lockdown; providing the audience with a much-needed sense of joy, relief, and socialization.
Audience members clapped, chanted, and danced along with the performers, expressing their delight at reconnecting with others.
Learn more and make a donation in support of Dance Immersion today.
The relationship between art and well-being is nothing new. As we all continue to live through the pandemic, making time to allow your creative side to show can help bolster your mental health, decrease stress and anxiety, and increase wellness. Whether you want to pick up a paintbrush or support those who do, making room for the arts can have a lasting impact.