An Inspiring A.R.T. Program Update

The A.R.T (Art/Relationships/Therapy) Program is a creative collaboration between CNC (Nechako) Counselling Program and the Health Arts Research Centre. Since its inception in April of 2019, the program has facilitated more than 270 individual art encounters through weekly group workshops, reaching a diverse group of participants between the ages of 11 and 77 years of age. Both Fort St. James and Vanderhoof are continuing to build a community of artists becoming more comfortable with using art for self-expression, stress relief and an opportunity for trying new things.

CNC staff leading the A.R.T Program have been working with both Pope Mountain Arts and Nechako Valley Community Arts Council, and these have been new and exciting relationships for all involved. As a result of these relationships, 14 additional artists from the A.R.T. Program participated in the “Anonymous Art Show” put on by the Nechako Valley Community Arts Council.

Additionally, members of Pope Mountain Arts remarked that the council has historically had difficulty drawing Indigenous artists to attend their programs and events. The “Poems, Stories and Songs” event co-hosted by the A.R.T. Program drew 10 participants, 8 of whom were Indigenous, to Pope Mountain Arts. The A.R.T. Program may be drawing together Fort St. James’ Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.

When artist Carla Joseph came to share her talents with participants, 19 people gathered in Fort St. James and 12 in Vanderhoof. One example of seeing art in action occurred during one of these workshops, where one of the participants began the workshop appearing pale and anxious. However, they were later observed appearing to be relaxing into the event, smiling, laughing and speaking with other participants throughout the art activity.

Another example of an inspiring change through art expression surrounds a participant that experiences anxiety and depression. Since attending A.R.T. Program workshops, they have returned to creating art daily and state that their outlook has improved significantly. This was also validated by others’ observations.

It’s not just the leaders observing changes in participants. During a group conversation in Vanderhoof one session, participants identified art as a significant factor for their mental clarity, relaxed mood and healthier lifestyle.

This December, to account for COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the A.R.T Program prepared over 100 kits for Art-to-Go Holiday Edition Projects. The Art-to-Go kits included a variety of paints, two canvases, a cup, stir sticks, q-tips, elastic bands, a plastic plate (palette), and paint brushes. Applicants were also given instructions and a video tutorial to guide their painting projects of Hydrangeas and the Northern Lights.

Weekly ART Classes:

In January there were 18 students distributed through four classes. In February 22 students were distributed in three classes. In March, there were 61 participants over nine classes. A core group of 8-10 regular attendees has formed in Vanderhoof. Fort St. James has three who regularly attend with a few who attend occasionally.

Art Project Sample Photos:

Weekly workshops and special events continue into 2021. Continue to look for event updates related to the A.R.T Program on our website and social media pages! Future plans include resuming “Poems, Stories and Songs.” Running “Beauty and the Bush” seasonally. Hosting the “Stuart-Nechako Annual Writers’ Festival and publishing an anthology of local beginning authors. Maintaining current programs.