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This article was published 23/10/2017 (721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A financially troubled after-school art program was getting some love — and, more importantly, some money — Monday after funding delays left it with a massive shortfall, forcing suspensions in its inner-city outreach classes.
Businesses, artists and hundreds of others responded by pitching in to help Broadway’s Art City restore half a dozen free art workshops it put on hold about three weeks ago.
The venerable charity suspended the art programs after $86,000 in funding was delayed this spring.
"The payment has been wrapped up in red tape, and is so late in coming that it’s caused a cash-flow crisis," Art City artistic director Eddie Ayoub told the Free Press on Monday. He declined to identify the funder, to avoid jeopardizing future funding from the same source.
In the Maples, Art City runs an after-school art program at Elwick Village, where a video of the farewell workshop showed a string of disappointed kids running after the van as it pulled away.
"At the last meeting, when the program was suspended," said Art City managing director Josh Ruth, "one of the kids, whose name is Sincere, said, ‘Well, say goodbye to your favourite place on Earth.’"
Founded by internationally renowned artist Wanda Koop, the not-for-profit community art studio, which has kept the same address on Broadway since its inception in 1998, grew in response to needs, with a dozen outreach programs all across the city, like the one in Elwick. With five now suspended, the future for the rest looks bleak.
Hundreds of elementary school kids attend the programs, often run out of local neighbourhood community centres. One of the suspended sites, in Centennial, is run out of the Sister MacNamara School Boys and Girls Club, and was integrated with Newcomer Employment and Education Development Services Inc., a community agency for new immigrants.
While the adults took language classes, their kids attended the art workshops.
Art City first imposed austerity measures, like scaling back its popular Halloween party, before suspending programs in the Maples, the west end, Centennial and Central Park areas of the city.
"These are outreach sites. The kids have very little programming at all, let alone any access to art programming... We get a lot of kids right after school and we serve a meal. That’s a big part of our service in neighbourhoods where food security is not the best," Ruth said.
They aren’t giving up yet.
Art City launched a $50,000 crowdsourcing campaign a week ago, the bare minimum to restore programs and keep them running until the end of the year, and word got around the Broadway neighbourhood.
Then, local businesses caught wind of their troubles.
The neighbourhood barber shop, Hunter & Gunn, is donating tips all this week, and Clementine café is donating a dollar from the sale of every plate of eggs Benedict, its top menu item.
Sherbrook Street’s popular eatery, Tallest Poppy, is planning an afternoon tea, with fancy sandwiches, dainties and possibly a live band in the next week or two, in an effort to raise cash for Art City.
"We appreciate what Art City does with the kids. And these kids are adorable to a fault. Not everybody has seen what this program does first-hand. So we’ll invite people in, charge a cover charge, and have the kids there. Then people will understand what the money is for," Tallest Poppy owner Talia Syrie said.
Local bar and café Good Will Social Club, in the 600 block of Portage, is selling stickers, like the kind charities sell through supermarkets, to raise money a loonie at a time.
"People love our city and they’re certainly responding to this," Good Will’s managing-partner, Tyler Sneesby, said.
"We’ve got dozens of these badges all over the walls right now, and it adds awareness for the cause. People come in and see them, ask about them, and they donate. I know that people are giving way more than $1 or $2 per donation. Some are donating $5 or $20," Sneesby said.
Art City is feeling grateful for the love. It’s raised a little over half of its $50,000 goal by crowdsourcing, and called the community response "overwhelming."
"These are people who don’t have a lot of money, but they’re making donations because they believe in the work Art City does," Ruth said.
Alexandra is a veteran news reporter who has covered stories for the Winnipeg Free Press since 1987. She held the medical beat for nearly 17 years, and today specializes in coverage of Indigenous-related issues. She is among the most versatile journalists on the paper’s staff.