Inspiring creativity. For good.

At Arts Umbrella we believe that art is for everyone. As a not-for-profit arts education centre, we think access to the highest quality arts education is a basic human right, regardless of your experience, education, socio-economic circumstance or learning needs.

It all started in 1979 with five, young parents whose own artistic backgrounds show how arts shape a life. The first class was 45 eager students, and today, we reach more than 20,000 children and youth every year. We’re especially proud of our free-of-charge outreach programs, which bring the love of the arts to those who may not be able to afford it. Because art belongs to everyone.

But free-of-charge doesn’t happen entirely freely. Or at least as much as we’d like. We rely on inspiring community support to continue to create programs that inspire children. Today tuition covers 44% of our operating budget. The remaining 56% comes from different levels of funding, including individual donations. The arts give so much back. Is it time to consider what you could give?

Learn more about what guides us ›

Our Vision

A better world where all young lives are inspired to pursue a lifelong journey towards self-expression, compassion, and humanity.

Our Mission

To be Canada’s leader in arts education for young people, that builds community and delivers profound life experiences through our commitment to innovation, excellence, and inclusivity. At the heart of what we do, we inspire people to live creative, authentic, and courageous lives.

High-Quality Programs

Since 1979, we’ve been sharing creativity through our visual arts, music, theatre, dance, and media arts programs. It amounts to 785 classes per year in four locations. And students range from preschoolers to pre-professionals.

We base classes on arts-education principles, hire 122 practicing artists, and use top-quality supplies. These are just a few of the ways we foster a place with no creative limits.

Open to All

We go beyond to reach Metro Vancouver children and communities in need – whether that need is financial, social, or something else entirely. Free Community Programs harness Arts Umbrella magic and expertise to provide free, high-quality arts education to pre-school, elementary, and high-school students.

Helping Vulnerable Children

In the face of other uncertainties, Arts Umbrella classes can be a safe space and stable outlet for vulnerable children. Most of our funding is raised a year in advance, which means published programs are not cancelled due to lack of financial resources.

A Toolbox of Creative Skills

Studies show arts education matters, providing building blocks for life and positively impacting academic test scores. Arts Umbrella encourages students as they develop critical-thinking skills, grow their self-esteem, and hone lasting collaboration tools.

Community Support

Arts Umbrella is a community. Everyone from volunteers and staff to donors and event guests help inspire creativity. Tuition revenues cover 44% of our annual operating budget. The remaining 56% comes from fundraising events, corporate support, government funding, and individual donations. Arts Umbrella connects the voices of many, but all share the same goal: to spark lasting creativity in every child who comes through our doors.

The hope for our world is in these young children who come to us, because they will make the future good and wonderful....That's what it is all about.

—Carol Henriquez, O.C., Co-founder of Arts Umbrella

Our Story

In 1979, United Nations’ International Year of the Child, Arts Umbrella opened its doors to 45 children. It was an endeavour buoyed by the dream of five enthusiastic artists and parents concerned about the lack of arts education available to children. Initially, the founders did everything it took to get their idea off the ground and they served as instructors and as the organization’s first Board of Directors.

The need for children’s arts education in the community was clearly evident, and Arts Umbrella took off instantly. Soon, Arts Umbrella boasted its own building, an increasing group of volunteers and donors, and a prestigious Board of Directors.

From those early days, Arts Umbrella has flourished with a strong vision and an unwavering focus on inspiring kids for life through the arts by providing the highest quality visual and performing arts education to children regardless of their financial circumstances. Demand for Arts Umbrella’s programs continues to increase and as funding permits, programming grows and evolves to meet this need.

At Arts Umbrella, children learn to dance, to paint, to sculpt, to create computer games and cartoons, and to perform. They experience the joy of creation and discover their own creative potential. They learn to appreciate the arts.

Most important, through arts education, children gain self confidence, independent thinking, technical skills, discipline, and even improved academic results and specific career direction. Numerous studies indicate that people who receive arts education early in life reap many tangible, long-term, life-changing benefits and gain skills that can help them well into adulthood.

Arts Umbrella’s strong legacy and culture are the result of the vision and “magic” established by the founders, and upheld through the work of the inspiring instructors and the community that supports the organization. Everyone that has been touched by Arts Umbrella — from students past and present, to parents, staff, instructors, volunteers, donors and the Board of Directors — thrives and is fed by the energy of the thousands of young people who engage in the magic of the Arts Umbrella experience, year after year.

This magic is a key attribute of Arts Umbrella and something the organization continues to take very seriously. By fostering and nurturing the magic, Arts Umbrella has become a truly world-class children’s arts centre serving the community around it, and a model for children’s arts institutions around the world.

It was a dream to instill in all children the love of the arts, inspiring them to become healthy, confident, productive, creative citizens. A dream to build a centre that would awaken the artistic potential of young people in a way that hadn't been done before. It was a dream to make a difference.

—Carol Henriquez, O.C., Co-founder of Arts Umbrella

Support Arts Umbrella

Arts Umbrella donors, volunteers, and sponsors share the same belief: that arts education can transform a child’s life. Whether attending an event, making a monthly gift, or donating time, our supporters are vital to helping us inspire creativity for good through the arts.