A non-profit that provides free drop-in art programming to Winnipeg adults has moved to a new, more accessible space.

A non-profit that provides free drop-in art programming to Winnipeg adults has moved to a new, more accessible space.

Artbeat Studio has re-opened its Studio Central Urban Arts Centre at a bright, inviting workshop on the second floor of Portage Place. The original space, located in an apartment at 444 Kennedy St., didn’t lend itself to spontaneous visits — you would have to know it’s there to go.

The hope is that more artists will come by this new central location due to its proximity to elevators, skywalks, and ample bus routes.

In addition to more foot traffic, the open concept design takes the pressure off of stopping by. The big mall-facing windows give folks the chance to see who’s there and what activities people are working on before they decide to join in.

"Being in this new space — a very public space — it is very exciting for us," said Marissa Hoff, Artbeat’s art program director.

"It’s really important for our adult population to do something leisurely. We really believe in the power art and community building have on someone’s mental wellness."

The organization was founded in 2005 by Nigel Bart. When diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 19, Bart — who’s a longtime facilitator — dove into different art mediums to manage his mental health and has helped others do the same.

Artbeat is a community-based, self-directed, peer-supported group that promotes artistic expression and community building for individuals living with mental health challenges. Artbeat supplies all materials, from paints and canvases to yarn and full-sized wooden looms.

Artbeat has a second location in Portage Place called Upbeat Artworks — a gallery space featuring the works of past participants.

"Our partnership with Portage Place has always been great," said Uyen Pham, Artbeat Studio’s executive director. "We thought it was just a natural fit for us to be here."

Artbeat also hosts up to eight artists over a six-month period who may not otherwise be able to secure their own workspace due to issues related to mental illness, social barriers or lack of funds.

"All of our alumni are great instructors (and) great facilitators," Pham said.  

She added that drop-in workshops have been instrumental in helping participants continue their mental health journeys. Artbeat has volunteer opportunities for those interested in helping out — from tidying to reception.

"It just adds routine to folks’ lives," Hoff said.

Artbeat welcomes drop-ins Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Unit 251A, Portage Place. The walk-up program is geared to adults, but people under 18 can participate if accompanied by a caregiver.  

Writers’ Circle takes place on Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. This group is closed to the public, but participants can sign up in advance by emailing studiocentral@artbeatstudio.ca

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at katlyn.streilen@canstarnews.com