Three Recipients Named for the 2014 Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award

By: Sally Wismer

Guelph Arts Council is pleased to announce that the 2014 Youth Opportunities Award will be shared among three of this year’s applicants who will offer three quite diverse opportunities for children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County to become in engaged in the arts. The recipients are 21-year-old aspiring artist Nathan Gatten in partnership with established portrait painter Meredith Blackmore, both Fergus residents; the Children’s Art Factory led by Guelph installation artist Melissa Mazar; and Guelph Film Festival.

Nathan and Meredith have requested support for a series of free “Try-It” workshops targeted to youth aged 14 to 24 years. These workshops will offer introductory sessions in different media, followed by two sessions with a teacher/mentor. Nathan, whose formal learning has been limited by autism and mitochondrial disease, wants to offer others of his age group the opportunity to experience free arts-based learning and the chance to work with a mentor. Having himself discovered and become engaged in art through the mentorship provided by Meredith, he will now be working with her in the planning and preparation of the workshops as well as assisting with the delivery as he is able. He will introduce sessions and talk about his experience with mentorship. The workshops will take place at Meredith’s recently-established STUDIOHERE in Fergus.

The Children’s Art Factory has requested support for a collaborative between Melissa Mazar and Guelph youth that will see children engaged in the creation of a piece of “meaningful public art” to be permanently displayed on the side of the building where the Children’s Art Factory is located. The art piece will be a moving sculpture of wooden gears and cogs that can be controlled by handles strategically placed close to the ground. The cogs and gears will be available to be painted during the Children’s Art Festival at Art on the Street in July 2015. In keeping with Melissa’s artistic practice at the Children’s Art Factory, there will be no instruction at this event, allowing children to be partners in the art process, to express their own voices, and to “discover the magic and fun of painting.”

Guelph Film Festival has requested support for “iCan Make Films,” a workshop for teens aged 14 to 18, with a focus on using accessible smart phone and tablet technology to “create innovative, ‘guerilla-style’ documentary films.” The intent is to engage youth to use everyday technology (that they already carry in their pockets) and encourage them to tell stories from their own unique perspective. In the process, the hope is that youth will “find themselves empowered and working without limitation.” The workshop will be offered as part of the 2015 Guelph Film Festival and will build on a very successful youth workshop offered during the 2013 festival.

Both Guelph Arts Council and the 2014 jury panel were extremely pleased with the innovative ideas from and the diversity represented by all of this year’s applicants for the 2014 Youth Opportunities Award. Included were both young artists and local arts organizations across a wide spectrum of different disciplines, with offerings for several different youth age groups.

Established in 2009 to take the place of a previous youth awards program dating back to 1982, the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award is intended to encourage programs that will initiate, enhance or expand opportunities for children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County to experience or become in engaged in the arts. Funds for the award come from the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Fund managed by the Guelph Community Foundation.

For more information about the award program, contact Guelph Arts Council at (519) 836-3280 or [email protected].

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