History – The Art Studios
The History of The Art Studios
The idea of an art studio dedicated to mental health recovery began with a group of Occupational Therapists and a Recreational Therapist enjoying an evening get-together in 1992. Wine may or may not have been involved. While discussing their working lives, the therapists noted how a great many of their mental health clients were creative, and how an art studio space was needed to facilitate recovery and growth. A program of classes was developed by these creative and committed individuals and supported by the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services.
In a windowless room on Quebec Street in Vancouver, with no kiln and no easels, with donated equipment and a very limited budget, The Art Studios doors opened on a dedicated space in 1994.
In the beginning, most of the instructors were Occupational Therapists or Volunteers. Over time, clients who were ready to take on the challenge were invited to assist, mentor or teach the classes. It is a testament to how effective this program is that now clients fill almost all these positions. Also a testament is that a group of clients (and others) started the Vancouver Recovery Through Art Society in 2012 to give back to the program that helped them so much.
The Art Studios moved in 2002 to its current location on East 44th Avenue at Victoria Drive (originally a bowling alley) where it has grown into a model of psychosocial rehabilitation known throughout Canada and internationally. Despite its success, the program barely survived 2013 when funding cuts almost closed the doors. Fortunately, private donors came forward to keep The Art Studios going and they continue to fund the program now, along with the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, Vancouver Recovery Through Art Society, and Vancouver Coastal Health (which provides the facility) until the Spring of 2021. Lookout Society has jumped in now to make sure The Art Studios continues after current funding runs out. The Recovery Through Art Society is committed to helping The Art Studios’ be a great program. We are fundraising, networking and growing our charity to carry The Art Studios’ quality recovery program forward.