Guelph Arts Council (GAC) is pleased to announce the creation of a new award program for Guelph artists, Pay It Forward Arts Fund. The fund totals $5,000 per year for the next four years and will fund one arts-based project every year. This award will help local artists in any discipline to fund art projects that pay it forward and benefit the community. The award could take many forms by using the arts to heal, give a hand-up, help build self-esteem, beautify our environment, or enrich and improve others’ lives.

The award is the gift of artist Barbara Salsberg Mathews and her husband, Bruce Mathews. It is designed to encourage artists to rise to the challenge and pay it forward by using their talents to benefit others and the Guelph community.

Salsberg Mathews says, “Today we’re seeing seeds of hate grow and fester: the antidote to hate is kindness, coupled with action to pay it forward.” Salsberg Mathews has used her own visual art to pay it forward through a variety of fundraising projects over the years, benefitting various organizations, including GAC.

The fund’s logo depicts sugar maples, which are native to the Guelph region. “Maple keys take flight, propagating wherever the wind takes them. Like the maple keys, this fund is a way to grow art throughout the community, and at the same time enrich the lives of those who will encounter these artworks in their day-to-day lives,” Salsberg Mathews says.

Guelph-Wellington area artists are invited to submit proposals for creative projects that focus on improving lives and thereby enriching our community. Artists can learn more about the application requirement and apply for the fund here.

An online Q&A session for potential applicants is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1 at 7:00pm. The Zoom link is posted on the award webpage. The recipient(s) will be selected by an independent awards jury which includes professional artists. The deadline to apply is Monday, June 27, 2022. 

In announcing this new award, GAC’s Acting Executive Director, Preetam Sengupta said: “We are incredibly grateful to Barbara and Bruce for their generosity in creating this award in support of the arts in Guelph. Barbara’s continued commitment and dedication to Guelph Arts Council as a board member and consummate fundraiser is beyond commendable, and we look forward to how her and Bruce’s latest contribution will benefit award recipients and the greater Guelph community.”

Those wishing to help grow the Pay it Forward Arts Fund are encouraged to donate online here

About Guelph Arts Council:

Since 1975, Guelph Arts Council has been dedicated to supporting, stimulating, and promoting arts and culture in Guelph. Guelph Arts Council is funded in part by The Guelph Community Foundation and City of Guelph. We also acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.


For more information, contact:

Preetam Sengupta, Acting Executive Director, Guelph Arts Council,, phone 519-836-3280, Email [email protected]

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