How long have you been working with Arts Express?
I have been working for Arts Express since shortly after moving to Toronto in 2003. When I started teaching, the focus was primarily drama. I then pioneered the first visual arts and improv programs before taking on a role as a workshop facilitator in the Literary series and writing, directing and set design for the now Broadway Creations. I’ve been supervising for the last 5 years and enjoy being able to work alongside so many talented artists.
Do you have a favourite story from your time delivering Arts Express programs?
I love witnessing the transformations. I have many classroom stories over the years, but some of my favourite memories involve watching the students discover things about themselves that they didn’t think were possible, and helping them come out of their shells. It is so rewarding to see kids be proud of their accomplishments and be able to express themselves in the arts where they can shine. The literary series on Bullying is also very rewarding because I have been able to connect to so many young people and give them some of the tools they need to allow themselves to feel stronger and proud of who they uniquely are.
How does arts programming contribute to overall well-being?
I am always able to find something to positively reinforce when students try new things in the arts. I think, not just for kids, but for people of all ages, there exists a fear of the arts, and very early on people ‘decide’ that they are not creative. So when people are exposed to arts education where they are given the opportunity to be silly, and to have fun, they can learn and develop their creative talents. Gaining these new experiences allows their creative thinking to flourish and they soon discover they do have an artistic outlet they enjoy whether it’s scrapbooking, cooking, gardening, or putting fun outfits together.
When you’re not working with Arts Express, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not with my Arts Express family I am usually auditioning, recording or teaching my programs at various locations. In the rest of my week you can find me performing improv comedy, working on my own visual arts and writing projects, or designing for various events and shows. Most recently I was the associate set designer for Grease The Musical at Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre and this fall I will be designing the Glow Gardens indoor Christmas market and light show in Barrie.
If you had an additional two hours every day to learn about something new, what would you be interested in learning?
I think we are always learning, but I always find it fascinating and inspiring to hear about other people’s journeys or be exposed to other art forms. Everyone has such a unique life experience that hearing stories often opens creative inspiration and motivation in ourselves. Visiting another artist’s space is like being invited into their imagination, which can often trigger something creative for me. I think we have all had to endure various struggles and challenges in our lives and that is how we best connect and relate to others. It’s just so magical when our stories can be shared through some form of artistic expression.