Written by GAC Staff

With 2023’s Pay it Forward Arts Fund applications open and ready for fun and exciting ideas, we met last year’s successful applicants and touched base on how the award has impacted their artistic practice and what they were up to since their application was approved.  Alexa and Maeve of Outlet are currently creating a mural that will be in the Wyndham House Youth Hub, and that it is for youth, by youth. They think it is significant and important that the youth accessing the space are also the ones creating the mural because they know what the space needs and what they need to see. This project provides resources and support that lasts beyond the duration of the project  thanks to 2022’s Pay it Forward Arts Fund, created with donations from Barbara Salsberg Mathews and Bruce Mathews .  To learn more about Outlet and the artist behind the collective read our interview with these wonderful artists.  

Photo Courtesy of Maeve Hind and Alexa Collette

Maeve Hind and Alexa Collette co-founded Outlet in the summer of 2020 from a belief that mental well-being can be positively impacted through the arts and community connection. Outlet is dedicated to facilitating spaces for community members to explore the possibilities of art as an outlet. Through mindful art-making with a do-what-you-can mindset, Outlet aims to create accessible offerings including workshops, drop-ins, and projects through community collaborations.

Maeve Hind is a queer interdisciplinary artist who works primarily in painting and performance. Her art practice explores anxieties, emotions, and her urban and natural landscape. With a background in Psychology and Fine Arts, Maeve believes that art making is a powerful tool to deepen understanding and connection to the self and one another. She is passionate about community engaged art.

Alexa Collette (she/her) creates primarily through drawing and painting mediums, with a love for community collaboration. Her practice revolves around the body, emotions and the psychological experience. Working through her experiences, she explores the capacity for creating human connection and empathy within her work. 

Here I (KP) ask Maeve and Alexa (MA) about their year since being awarded the grant:  

KP: What has this grant allowed you to do?

MA: This grant has allowed us to bring a project dream to life. It’s allowed us to engage with a community organization and its community members to create something special for that specific site. We have been able to connect with a group of people in the community and create new space for their voices and stories. From discussing the importance of spaces in the community like Wyndham House, to dreaming up mural ideas together, learning how to use new materials and techniques, we are also passing on skills and tools that can be used once this project is complete. Our hope is that they will be able to continue to explore their own creativity and find ways of coping with their experiences through making and creating. By the end of this project, there will be a completed 7’x15’ mural up in the Wyndham House Youth Hub made by this community, to serve this community.

KP: How has your practice evolved since being successful applicants of this award?

MA: Our practice has evolved in learning to plan and adapt, learning from the people we are working with in the community based on individual needs. We have been finding ways to make projects like this more accessible to people, because we all have our individual experiences and are trying to work together to create something, which might look a bit different for everyone involved. This experience has been full of learning and listening from the community that we are working with, realizing that we don’t always know what’s best for everyone and taking the time to listen.

KP: How has your connection with the community grown through receiving this award?

MA: Our connection with the community has grown in a really meaningful way as we have developed relationships with folks who work at Wyndham House, and with community members at Wyndham House who we may not have otherwise met. We have worked closely with Kristen at Wyndham House who has shared her knowledge of working with this group of community members, finding ways to develop the project to better serve and engage with them. Every week, we are checking in with the participants and sharing skills, while listening to their ideas, hopes and dreams. This project has also allowed us to draw connections with Bruce and Barbara and learn from their expertise and experience which has been very supportive.

KP: What does the availability of grants and awards like this mean to artists?

MA: The availability of these kinds of grants and awards has made us feel seen, because it’s important to have smaller scale projects that still make a meaningful impact within the community. It’s easy to feel like a project has to be really big to make a difference, but we believe that it is the smaller steps and moments that are intentional in creating community connections that ripple outwards, creating a positive impact. If we can do this then the lives of a group of youth within the Wyndham House community are enriched, which then continue to positively impact the people they are connecting with and so on, creating real change. 

KP: Why should other artists consider applying for this fund?

MA: It’s a good project to really learn what it’s like to develop an idea from a dream into action while learning how to create specific projects for specific needs. Artists should consider applying for this fund because it’s a creative way to think about what it means to pay it forward as there are so many directions projects from this fund could go to. Projects that make individuals feel seen and heard are so necessary, especially now. Creativity is a beautiful way to harness it and reconnect with ourselves and each other.

KP: Any tips or suggestions for other artists to consider when applying for and writing these grant applications?

MA: Our biggest tip would be to dream big first, and then scale back as needed to be specific with your intention and to be excited about the possibilities of many community connections. This project is quite open in terms of what you can do, which means that there is a lot of space to make it your own.

 If you are interested in applying you can learn more about the application requirement and apply for the fund here.

Additionally, Pay it Forward Arts Fund is hosted by the Guelph Community Foundation, where the funds are collected and grown in hopes for the project to go beyond the remaining 3 years. If you’d like to donate to the continuation of Pay It Forward Arts Fund please follow the link.

Questions can be submitted by email in advance to [email protected], please title your email “Q&A – PIFAF 2023”.

An online Q&A session for potential applicants is scheduled for Tuesday, May 30 at 5:00pm. To attend follow the zoom link here.

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