ArtHeart has nourished the creative spirit of children, youth, adults and seniors in Regent Park since 1991.
Originally called A Home for Creative Opportunity, ArtHeart was founded in 1991 by Seanna Connell and a group of dedicated volunteers, including the homeless, community residents and families from the inner-city community of Regent Park, Toronto, Canada’s oldest and largest Government Housing Project. This group believed that an inner-city arts centre could be an oasis for learning and creativity in an under-resourced and under-serviced neighbourhood.
ArtHeart became incorporated in 2003 as a not-for-profit charitable organization and in 2004, the organization relocated from its original studio, as a project of 40 Oaks into a new space two blocks away. As part of the revitalization of Regent Park, in 2012, ArtHeart was invited to move again, into the wheelchair accessible Daniels Spectrum to become part of a dynamic arts and cultural centre.
In 2018, Artscape funded the “Halo Project” to assess the socio-economic impact that each of the Daniel Spectrum tenants contribute in services to the Regent Park community. We can now say, through rigorous external evaluation by Sphaera Research and Consulting that ArtHeart contributes over $2.3 million annually in value to the community.
The year 2021 marks ArtHeart’s 30th year of providing free visual arts programs in Regent Park! Since its opening, ArtHeart has engaged thousands of children, youth, adults and seniors in community-engaged arts programs, worked with three generations of Regent Park residents, and been an anchor in a changing community.
On March 13th, 2020, ArtHeart temporarily closed its studio in Regent Park due to COVID-19. The dedicated ArtHeart team has worked through the pandemic. We have remained connected online and by telephone with our program participants of all ages, many of whom are vulnerable. We launched a new program: ArtHeart Connects: Art Gets Us Through Covid-19. We started mask-making Mondays with a small group of participants who are seamstresses in the ArtHeart studio. Masks are distributed to our participants. We entered into a community collaboration with Wonder’neath Art Society - a community art studio in Halifax, and launched ArtHeart’s Art Activity Kit Project. Our Youth Employment Program students assemble free art activity kits for ArtHeart participants- seniors, adults, families and Council Fire Native Cultural Centre which are distributed curbside, outside of the ArtHeart studio. In 2020, staff and volunteers gave out over 2,500 Art Activity Kits. ArtHeart continues to innovatively deliver projects and programs within the Government Health and Safety regulations.
It is believed that when the body and soul are treated with kindness, imaginations soar and beautiful art is produced. ArtHeart participants come from many backgrounds and life experiences. All are talented artists who have discovered a safe space at ArtHeart to explore their creativity.
Many forms of visual art are enjoyed at ArtHeart. Watercolour, acrylic, mixed media, screen-printing, collage, photography, fibre and digital arts are explored. Stories are told with paint, paper and canvas. ArtHeart is a unique community sharing the love of art, good food and warm relationships.