Arts Umbrella Community Art KitsAn initiative created in partnership between Arts Umbrella and Opus Art Supplies

At Arts Umbrella, we believe every child should have access to an arts education. Over the past few months, our methods for delivering that education have been challenged. Without that human to human connection that we rely on to spark imagination, we’ve had to reimagine what it means to inspire creativity.

Like many arts organizations, Arts Umbrella has met the COVID-19 crisis with hope and innovation. We’ve brought classes online and shared prompts for at-home activities, but we also wanted to ensure that young people have access to the supplies they need to be creative – at home.

“Each year more than 7,000 young people access our donor-funded Community Programs at no cost,” says Paul Larocque, President & CEO of Arts Umbrella. “These programs were cancelled from March to June due to the COVID-19 crisis, and we wanted to find a way to provide for this vulnerable community during such a difficult time.”

With generous support from Opus Art Supplies, Arts Umbrella has delivered more than 200 art kits to children and youth at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House in Vancouver and through our Westminster Savings Artful Afternoon program in Surrey.

“Our primary focus is to support through inspiring, educating, and enabling the creative community,” says Tom James, President & CEO at Opus Art Supplies. “We see creativity as a basic need. People have physical, mental, and emotional needs, and we all want meaning and purpose. At Opus, we really feel that it’s foundational for children to be able to express their creativity.”

Natalie Moravek is the Childrens’ Program Coordinator at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, where she oversees all out-of-school learning opportunities for school-aged children in grades K-5. Their immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis was to provide food security to the vulnerable members of their community. Since March they have been delivering weekly food hampers to 150 households.

Arts Umbrella Community Art Kits

“Once we had food delivery in place, we could turn our attention to other things,” says Natalie. “How do we stay engaged at home to lead healthy, balanced lives? People need more than food right now; they still need connection to people, they still need resources for outdoor play and creativity.” During her weekly visits with families, Natalie found that their number one request was for physical supplies to engage their kids in creative activities, supplies they would normally access at school or through Kiwassa’s programs, but don’t have at home.

The Arts Umbrella art kits delivered to Kiwassa have now gone on to children of essential workers at two of their emergency child care sites. They have also gone to at-risk youth through Kiwassa’s street outreach, as well as to students who access the hot lunch program at the local elementary school. Some of the blank sketchpads are being used as journals to promote youth mental health

In Surrey, the art kits have been available for curbside pick-up to families who access our Westminster Savings Artful Afternoons program. Artful Afternoons is a free after-school program that provides at-risk children with a space and high-quality supplies to express themselves.

Arts Umbrella Community Art Kits

Thank you to everyone involved in bringing Arts Umbrella art kits to the families in Metro Vancouver who would most benefit from access to high-quality art supplies. Together, we will continue to inspire creativity… for good.