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The Ottawa Art Gallery and The Royal launch a creative collaboration

January 31, 2019

Press Release

OTTAWA – January 31st, 2019 – Creative Space, a studio program for youth and adults carrying experiences of mental illness has been developed as a collaboration between the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. The program offers weekly creative exploration and art making for outpatients from The Royal in various stages of recovery, and has grown to include participants from various neighboring service organizations who value creativity as a tool for wellness and community building. City of Ottawa Councillor Keith Egli visited OAG today to view artworks by Creative Space artists.

‘’Proud of two Ottawa institutions working together to create positive social change and awareness. It is through such innovation and cooperation that we will foster mental health treatment and wellness.‘’

-Keith Egli, Ottawa City Councillor, Knoxdale-Merivale, and Chair of Ottawa Public Health Board

‘’Creative Space is part of a growing trend in the arts and health fields, which recognizes that wellness can be derived through creativity and community.‘’

-Alexandra Badzak, Ottawa Art Gallery, Director and Chief Executive Officer

Piloted as an offsite initiative during the Gallery’s construction phase, the program now runs weekly in the OAG Studio at 10 Daly Avenue. Creative activities are led by the OAG’s Community Access team, and facilitated by Recreational Therapists from The Royal. 

“Looking towards the future, The Royal is focused on delivering mental health care that meets people where they are – that means working alongside partners across our community who interface with our clients in different ways to provide care that is integrated with other meaningful elements of their lives.  Creative Space is a wonderful example of this; it gives clients the opportunity for creative expression and learning while becoming part of a broader community that supports their wellness.”

-Joanne Bezzubetz, President and CEO of The Royal

Creative Space is designed to provide a supportive environment free from labels, in which well-being is fostered through multidisciplinary creative exploration.  The program also aims fight negative social perceptions of mental illness; and promote the power of art as a tool for wellness and community building.

 ‘’I’ve always been comfortable using art and its expression as part of my recovery path. The space, the projects and the people, both the facilitators and peers at OAG have provided a safe non-judgemental space for me to explore wherever I may be emotionally. These drop-in afternoons helped me independently transition in to the rest of the week.‘’

-Creative Space Artist

The ongoing program, officially launched on December 17, 2018 during a vernissage of new works created by participants, receives the generous support of James McCrae and Debbie and David Weinstein.

‘’The integration of two public institutions, combining their respective skillsets, to provide community based mental health care and recovery outlets is totally awesome. Furthermore, OAG’s inclusion of the clients of the Ottawa Mission is testament to the potential of such programs to break barriers and provide truly community driven, integrated and holistic health care offerings.‘’

-James McCrae, Supporter

Creative Space has grown considerably since the launch of its pilot phase in 2016 to a highly attended drop-in. Once a week, from May to December 2018, an average of 20 participants attended the sessions in the OAG Studio, for a total of 440 participants this year, a significantly higher number than 136 participants in 2017.

Dropbox Image Folder: sample artworks

For media enquiries or to book an interview with OAG Director Alexandra Badzak, the coordinator of Creative Space Alexis Boyle or our partner The Royal:

Véronique Couillard
Public and Media Relations Manager
613-233-8699 +244

About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)
OAG is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.


OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE. | Register for Summer Art Camps!