News Release

Third year of Art Place has strong impact on the community
March 27, 2017

March 31 – April 2 recognises importance of community engaged arts with Symposium and Art Place Showcase, presented by AOE Arts Council

Ottawa (Ontario) – To celebrate the conclusion of its three year pilot project in community engaged arts, AOE Arts Council is hosting a Community Engaged Arts Symposium on March 31 and April 1, and a showcase of the 2016-2017 Art Place projects on April 2, 2017.

Presented by AOE Arts Council, Art Place addresses social issues by placing professional artists and arts groups in community settings to co-create art projects and provide free of charge arts programming. Since last October, clients from seven non-for-profit organisations (Club Casa de los Abuelos, the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre Day Program, the Jasmine Crescent Safety Committee, Somerset West Community Health Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Immigrant Women’s Services and the Centre d’accueil Champlain) have benefited from participating in Art Place.

“This was a precious gift to the organization because working with paper helped seniors to socialize, explore their creativity, uncover hidden talents and abilities as well as to overcome fears of expressing artistically,” says Ana Maria Cruz-Valderrama, executive director of Club Casa de los Abuelos. In addition to socialization, working with paper greatly helped seniors with hand mobility, coordination and fingers dexterity.”

Community Engaged Arts Symposium

Community engaged arts practice is an artistic approach that focuses on social engagement by creating art in a participatory way and generating social impact through the arts. Ottawa is home to several expert practitioners and Art Place is collaborating with Community Arts for Social Engagement at the City of Ottawa to help share their practical knowledge at the symposium on March 31 and April 1.

Art Place artist-in-residence and founder of the applied theatre company Branch Out Theatre, Naomi Tessler first discovered community engaged art through theatre of the oppressed.

“When I was studying I debated between theatre and social work, then I found theatre of the oppressed and other forms, like play back theatre, and I saw there was a marriage between theatre and social work through community engaged arts,” says Naomi Tessler. “I found that theatre could be more than a form of entertainment it could be a means of raising critical questions and exploring new ways to address social issues. Through this work I have found a way to be someone who is of service to the community.”

The two day symposium offers participants hands-on learning experience and tools for creating community engaged arts projects with feature presentations and workshops by Naomi Tessler and Alisdair MacRae. It will also bring together artists and community leaders for two panel discussions about how to apply this practice to their art and the benefits for artists and Ottawa residents.                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Friday, March 31, from 9 am to 5 pm : Gerald Dragon of Sandy Hill CHC, Micheline Shoebridge of MASC and Christine Mockett, textile artist, will discuss the steps towards creating a community engaged projects.

Saturday, April 1, from 9 am to 5 pm:  Kathy Armstrong of Baobab Drum Dance Community, Kelsey Walsh of Dandelion Dance,  Adam Brown, performative and sculptural artist, and Claudia Salguero, an arts-based facilitator, artist and jazz singer, will share the paths they took towards building a career in community engaged arts.

Registration cost is $80 for two days and $50 for one day.
Location: Ottawa City Hall

Art Place Showcase

This year’s Art Place program offered participants from six communities across Ottawa a familiar place where they could express themselves using art and co-create with professional artists. The 2016-2017 projects enabled creative journeys through theatre, dance, music, storytelling and visual art, amplifying voices in various underserved communities touched by the project, to tell their stories and share their unique perspectives.

“I feel sometimes like people don’t listen to our stories. I know I repeat quite a bit, but it’s tough when no one will listen anymore. That someone is willing to listen is priceless. That someone is willing to share with us, and ask us to share in turn, is heartwarming. We know we won’t remember our stories forever. But we still like them. Telling them makes us feel like we’re still a part of, well, of life.” – Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre Seniors Day Program participant.

On April 2, excerpts of performances and results of the residencies will be shared with guests and the public. The program was created by AOE Arts Council through a call to artists and jury selection process.

April 2, 2017, at 3 pm
Location: The Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave.

To date, the program has provided 38 local artists with paid opportunities to engage with Ottawa residents. Participating artists and host sites are:



Participants and Host Community Site


Kathy Armstrong

Working youth (ages 8-12)

Sandy Hill Community Health Centre


Marie Bilodeau

Working with seniors

Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre Seniors Day Program

Visual Art and Storytelling

Brenda Dunn

Working with youth (6-10 years old)
Somerset West Community Health Centre


Sasha Dominique

Working with seniors

Centre d’accueil Champlain

Visual Art

Bozica Radjenovic

Working with seniors
Club Casa de los Abuelos



Naomi Tessler

Working with new Canadians (adult and youth)

Immigrant Women’s Services of Ottawa 

Land Art


Marc Walter

Working with youth and the community
Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre Jasmine Crescent Safety Committee

Project sites: Jasmine Park, Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard

Read more about all the Art Place projects on                                                                                                                                                                                                            

“Artists usually work in loneliness and we don’t have to communicate with the rest of society. My group is a group of women, they have children, and there is a lot I can relate to them. We’re all immigrants who have children, speaking different languages with challenging names. I think we have learned a lot from each other.” – Bozica Radjenovic, Art Place artist-in-residence.

AOE Arts Council sincerely thanks the generous foundations and funders along with the non-profit host sites that made the 2016-2017 program a reality.

About AOE Arts Council

AOE Arts Council believes in the power of the arts to transform lives. Many residents of Ottawa do not have access to a creative outlet. Through community engaged arts projects like Art Place, AOE Arts Council creates opportunities for artists to share their art practice with new audiences in meaningful ways in non-traditional settings. This program encourages the use of different forms of art as a way to express opinions, barriers, conflicts and emotions about a social situation.

The Arts Council is a 30-year-old arts service organization whose mission is to connect, champion and collaborate to bring resources together that build a thriving local arts community in the Ottawa region. 

We offer opportunities for artists and arts organizations to share and promote their work, provide resources and professional development.  We actively work with Ottawa’s arts community to connect with residents, businesses and non-profit partners and advocate the creative, social and economic benefits of the Arts. We represent over 400 artist and arts organization members across the Ottawa region from all art disciplines.


For more information and to arrange interviews with the artists:

Cristiane Doherty
Director of Communications
Tel.: 613.580.2767
Nina Jane Drystek
Program Coordinator
Tel.: 613.580.2767