Oct 10, 2012

Arts program for street-involved youth will develop leadership and change lives, thanks to $199,000 OTF grant

Thanks to a $199,000 grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to the arts organization MASC, artistic programs will be more accessible to street-involved and homeless youth in Ottawa for the next 3 years.

Leadership through the Arts is a new project led by MASC in partnership with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (YSB) and the Toronto-based arts group SKETCH, which creates art-making opportunities for young people who live street-involved and homeless. Yasir Naqvi, Ottawa-Centre MPP, joined OTF representative Frank Dyson in congratulating the three agencies for their innovative partnership and this important opportunity for young people in need.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to broaden and deepen our partnership with the YSB, and develop new arts practices for our work with at-risk youth,” said Audrey Churgin, Executive Director of MASC.

“This program engages youth who have many risk factors and offers much needed support,” said Joanne Lowe, Executive Director of the Youth Services Bureau. “The arts allow young people to express their stories, build on their strengths and develop self-esteem.”


“The Leadership through the Arts program will be of enormous benefit to youth-at-risk in our community,” said Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa Centre. “They will be able to develop the creative skills and qualities that artistic training provides, while also being afforded the opportunity to gain leadership skills by training their peers.”


Leadership through the Arts will offer workshops for YSB clients in art forms like slam poetry, drumming, improvisation and visual arts. Under the new grant, the program will go a step further by training youth leaders to organize and promote arts activities to their peers.


Since 2009, MASC has offered arts workshops at YSB’s Downtown Drop-in on Besserer Street, a hub of services for homeless youth. The young people who come there–almost 900 a year—turn to YSB for hot lunches, emergency shelter, housing referrals, crisis support, health care and other basic needs.

SKETCH will conduct research in collaboration with YSB and MASC to assess the needs of Ottawa youth and the potential for the creation of a sustainable arts program for youth at risk.

MASC has over 20 years of experience bringing professional artists to schools and community settings in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Its roster of 65 artists includes Nicole Belanger, Fana Soro and break-dancer Yvon Soglo.

YSB is one of the largest and most comprehensive non-profit agencies serving youth in Ottawa. It offers over 30 programs and serves 3,000 youth and families

every month in the areas of youth engagement, housing and homelessness, mental health, youth justice and employment.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario. For over 25 years, the Foundation has supported the growth and vitality of communities across the province. It continues to strengthen the capacity of the volunteer sector through investments in community-based initiatives. For more information, please visit www.trilliumfoundation.org.



For more information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Director of Communications, YSB

Lina Harper
Communications Officer, YSB