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Uptown Art provides children a stress-free environment to create – Williams Lake Tribune



The Uptown Art Program celebrated another successful year of helping children create art at the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre.

Pottery creations including masks, bowls and cups were all on display alongside classic paintings, drawings and pour art medallions. Around a dozen or so people were in attendance at the show Tuesday, Dec. 17, enjoying some pizza and conversation as they took in the gentle ambiance.

Shelley Neufeld, the child youth care and family support worker at the CCCDC, said they’ve been running this program for about the last four years. Each year they apply for funding from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society that provides them with funds courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake.

Neufeld said the grant is greatly appreciated as it pays for facilitators from the Cariboo Potters Guild and other artists and art groups in town to come in and teach the children various crafts and disciplines.

“It’s a very comfortable program for the children because they don’t feel pressured (to do things a certain way) we’re just kind of there to support them with whatever their project is going be,” Neufeld said.

Most of the children and teens that attend the art program typically don’t have access to other art programs and need a little bit of extra support, she said. For those with anxiety, Neufeld said most find they’re able to attend this program, and those that still needed support had their parents there to help them before eventually attending on their own.

The program begins in June and runs weekly until the end of December, usually on a Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each year they try to add and incorporate new forms of art the children can experiment with as they did with fibre arts this year. Often times they’ll base their plans around what those in the program say they’re interested in, meaning they’d be open to doing performing arts like drama should interest be shown in it.

“I think (what I enjoy) the most is just seeing the kids be able to show their creativity no matter how it comes out. They get comfortable socially with each other so you start seeing them supporting one another, especially the older with younger ones who, if they see them struggling, they’ll actually get up to go and help them,” Neufeld said.

Read More: Uptown Art encourages creativity and expression

Next year they hope to do more work with the Williams Lake Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild and get some of the older teenagers working on looms.

Doing something with dance is something Neufeld wanted to do this year but was unable to arrange so she hopes to implement it next year.

On and off this year, Neufeld said, they had around 13 children and teens take part in the program throughout the year.

She feels this program is a great way to foster and inspire an interest in the arts for young children and introduce them to organizations they might join themselves in the future.

Helping them find out who they are artistically in a safe environment is also another reason Neufeld feels the program should continue to receive support.

One of the young artists that took part in the program was Sydney Hamm who was in attendance with her siblings and parents at the art show. She said she and the other children made “all kinds of stuff really” including masks, ornaments, plates, paintings and other assorted items.

Hamm said she wanted to take part in the program because it sounded cool and because she enjoys drawing, which she thinks of as a natural talent. Her favourite project they did was clay mask making, which became personal for her when she chose to make a mask of her dog Bogey, a nine-year-old German Shepherd her family had to put down this year.

“It felt pretty good (to make the mask) because I know I’d be able to see him more than just in pictures, I’d be able to see him a little more often,” Hamm said.

Given the chance, Hamm said she would definitely attend the Uptown Art Program again next year because of how fun it was and how little pressure was a part of the whole process. She’d invited any lakecity child interested in taking part to come by the CCCDC next year and check it out.

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Cape Breton woman's COVID-19 inspired public art show features face masks and personal sentiments –




Bailee Higgins hopes her public art project will help promote an important public health measure while connecting people in the community.

I Wear A Mask For Sydney Mines is a series of digital portraits of people who live or work in Sydney Mines wearing masks, which are designed to reflect their personalities. Included with each portrait is a comment from the subject about why they wear a face mask or a little about their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a project that’s meant to bring people together since we can’t get physically together,” said Higgins, who is in the art education program at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.

“And it’s a project that can encourage people to wear a face mask as a way to help protect everyone during the pandemic, which I think is an important message.”

“Mama says our masks make us superheroes.” #iwearamaskforsydneymines, digital portrait by Bailee Higgins. CONTRIBUTED


Created for a public art class Higgins is taking at NSCAD University, the Sydney Mines native received a Rising Youth grant so she could continue the project until March 1.

During the last week of February, she is planning a virtual livestreaming show of all the portraits she’s completed to this point. But the artist, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., plans to continue doing portraits until the end of the pandemic.

“I want to get as many people as possible involved so we can get as many people’s experiences included,” she said.


One participant who is a COVID-19 survivor living off-island wrote a statement that Higgins calls “powerful.”

In it, the woman said her health will never be the same again and that she wants to live in a world where people care about protecting people around them.

“Our cases have been pretty low here. So hearing from someone who has had it and is still suffering from the lasting effects is really powerful,” Higgins said.

“I am from Sydney Mines and am home all the time to see my family. We will retire and come home. I work in health care. I am a COVID survivor ..." #iwearamaskforsydneymines series by artist Bailee Higgins. CONTRIBUTED
“I am from Sydney Mines and am home all the time to see my family. We will retire and come home. I work in health care. I am a COVID survivor …” #iwearamaskforsydneymines series by artist Bailee Higgins. CONTRIBUTED


Alex Cormier saw Higgins’s Facebook post looking for subjects for the I Wear A Mask series and the mother of two said she wanted to participate in the project because protecting others is a message that hits close to home.

“It’s affected our family directly, the COVID pandemic. My mother had COVID and now she suffers long-term effects from COVID. Her lungs are permanently damaged,” Cormier said about her decision to be a model in the series.

“If by helping promote the message that face masks work, if we can protect anyone else’s mother or grandmother or father or someone else in the community by wearing masks, then we should do what we can to get that message across.”

“... As a community pharmacist, I have been involved in front line primary care, doing our best as a team to keep our staff and patients safe.” #iwearamaskforsydneymines digital portrait series by artist Bailee Higgins. CONTRIBUTED
“… As a community pharmacist, I have been involved in front line primary care, doing our best as a team to keep our staff and patients safe.” #iwearamaskforsydneymines digital portrait series by artist Bailee Higgins. CONTRIBUTED


Each digital portrait takes about an hour and a half to complete and is done on an iPad with a special pen which allows the artist to draw right on the screen.

To date, Higgins has completed 40 portraits and hopes to finish at least 100 by the time the pandemic is over.

Anyone interested in being a model in the I Wear A Mask For Sydney Mines series can contact Higgins by email at [email protected], through Facebook messenger on the project page or by phone at 902-578-9444.

Nicole Sullivan is an education, enterprise and diversity reporter for the Cape Breton Post. 


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ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre to re-open February 2 – Alberni Valley News





The Rollin Art Centre is currently closed, but will re-open Feb. 2 with an exhibit featuring some pieces from its permanent collection.

In 1995, Robert Aller donated many works of art—including four of his own paintings—to the Community Arts Council. This collection began while he was enrolled at the Vancouver School of Art in 1946. Beginning Feb. 2, part of his collection will be on display for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss this opportunity to view the work of some of the most brilliant artists in Canadian history.


For $20 you will receive 10 books in one bag, all in the same genre!

By purchasing a bag of books, you will also be helping Rollin Art Centre during this difficult time. Choose from mysteries, fiction, fantasy, romance, cooking, home improvements, travel, cooking, pre-teen chapter books (e.g. Nancy Drew), children’s books and even puzzles ($2 each). Your support for Rollin Art Centre is greatly needed and much appreciated.


The Community Arts Council is designing a new Alberni Valley artist and studio guide. If you are interested in being included in this brochure/guide, please call the Rollin Art Centre at 250-724-3412 for more information.

The guide will include local artists, and a map. Five thousand guides will be printed and distributed to the tourist information centre and local hot spots.

The extended deadline is Feb. 27, 2021.


This year’s community painting days at the Glenwood Center have been cancelled. Instead, there will be “Paint a Banner at Home” program. Please email the club at to express interest.

Melissa Martin is the Arts Administrator for the Community Arts Council, at the Rollin Art Centre and writes for the Alberni Valley News. Call 250-724-3412. Email:

Artart exhibit

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Help with Art Grant aAplications! – northeastNOW



Main Line: 306-752-2587
Toll Free: 1-800-668-2587
Newsroom: 306-752-6397
Toll Free: 1-800-480-6397

We strive to achieve the highest ethical standards in all that we do. Our newsroom abides by the RTNDA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and follows the Canadian Press Stylebook.


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