About copy

Download our 2016 Annual Newsletter here.
Download our brochure here.
For informational on referrals, see our Referral Information section.

To create a culture of healing and transformation through the power of artistic expression.

Who We Are
Creative Works Studio (CWS) is an arts-based occupational therapy and community initiative of the Inner City Health Program of St. Michael’s Hospital and operates in partnership with Good Shepherd Non-Profit Homes Inc. The studio is non-denominational and is led by Isabel Fryszberg, an occupational therapist and practicing artist.

What We Do
We provide a fully-equipped, safe and accepting community–based arts studio for people living with severe and persistent mental illness and/or addictions. All members are encouraged to reach their highest potential through art projects and workshops. As a result, their general life skills and ability to cope in the larger community also improve. The healing process is based on integration of principles of occupational therapy, mental health care, visual arts and vocational counseling. We support our members on their journey to self-expression through art, greater self-esteem, improved confidence and eventually increased participation within the larger community.

The studio is a non-judgmental environment where each person is treated as an artist first, rather than a patient. We offer a variety of art workshops, including painting, pottery, clay sculpture, songwriting, screen printing and digital photography. Art supplies are provided. The studio is open five days a week and members attend sessions on a drop-in basis. 

Community support programs like ours can significantly support a client’s mental health and help to reduce their number of hospital stays. The cost of inpatient care in a mental health facility in Toronto is over $1,000 per person per day; a three-hour session at Creative Works Studio costs $78.

Creative Works Studio is also actively involved in mental health research, education and outreach as a means of disseminating information and reducing the stigma of mental illness. 

Watch Michael Kirby, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, visit the Creative Works Studio here.

Our Impact 
In July 2015, our members participated in a feedback survey that explored how members perceive CWS and its affect on their day-to-day experiences. There was a high response rate with 67% of active members giving their feedback. Of the 31 clients who responded to the survey:

  • 97% felt more hopeful as a result of participating in the CWS program;
  • 97% felt they were able to be “more productive” each week;
  • 90% reported feeling better able to cope with their mental health concerns;
  • 81% reported that their community involvement has improved since engaging in the program.

Our Members

  • Adults (18 years +) who have mental health issues and/or addictions, and related challenges
  • Come from diverse educational and socio-economic backgrounds
  • Do not need to have a background in art
  • Come from mental health agencies across the city

History of CWS
In 1997, the program was pioneered through the leadership of Isabel Fryszberg, occupational therapist and practicing artist. It started on one day per week with the help of an arts volunteer in St. Michael’s Hospital. Through its hallway art shows, the program gained supporters, outgrew its facilities and moved out into the community. Over the next ten years, innovative partnerships with other community groups (Mustard Seed, JVS Toronto) would allow for the program to gradually grow. In 2007, a volunteer group led by Ronnie Kaplansky organized an art auction fundraiser for the studio called Creative Art Gems. Now called Art Gems, the fundraiser has grown immensely and become a major support for our program’s development.

These days, Creative Works Studio runs five days per week out of a studio space in South Riverdale in Toronto. We host 2,500 visits and serve 80 clients per year. Our program has gained the interest of health care providers across the GTA, nationally and internationally. 

We regret that the Creative Works Studio space is currently not accessible – clients must be able to use two flights of stairs to enter the studio space.

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