For informational on referrals, see our Referral Information section.
Our mission is to provide a safe and welcoming community-arts based studio for people living with mental illness and/or addictions. The healing process is based on the integration of the principles of visual arts and supportive counselling. Our members are supported on their self-guided journey to expression through art, greater self-esteem, and improved confidence, which leads to increased participation within the larger community.
Who We Are
Creative Works Studio (CWS) is a community arts-based program, operated by Good Shepherd Non-Profit Homes Inc. in partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital.
What We Do
At CWS, each member is treated as an artist first and foremost. Members are encouraged to reach their greatest potential and skill level through purposeful and inspiring creative art initiatives.
As a result of participating in the studio, members gain confidence and increase their sense of well-being while at the same time creating community within and outside of the studio. Returning to a meaningful and active life is the goal for everyone who participates in the program.
CWS is actively involved in education, mental health research and community outreach as a means of disseminating information and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction.
The Studio is open 5 days a week and accepts referrals from mental health agencies within the City of Toronto.
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.
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.
- 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, Good Shepherd Non-Profit Homes Inc. operates Creative Works Studio 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.