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The Art Studios



A Brief 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. 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.

The hallway to the pottery studio

The hallway to the pottery studio

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. A testament too 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 (originally a bowling alley) where it has grown into a model of psychosocial rehabilitation known throughout Canada. Despite its success the program barely survived 2013 when funding cuts by Vancouver Coastal Health 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). Most of the funding is scheduled to drop away in a few years and the Vancouver Recovery Through Art Society is committed to securing The Art Studios’ future. We are fundraising, networking and building an endowment to carry The Art Studios forward.

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TAS Staff 2013 (l-r) Jenn Smolinski, Sarah Sinanan, Ann Webborn, Monica Budac, Cate Curtis & Rivka Stein


Watch the “The Art Studios Video” by Jay Peachy, 2011


For more information about The Art Studios and its programs, please call 604-871-9788