After a year on the road, Oshawa’s mobile LivingRoom Community Art Studio is gearing up for a busy summer.
“We see this summer as a bit of adventure where we’ll be building relationships with people and communities that we’ve either fallen out of touch with or not had the opportunity to work with due to the pandemic. We’ll be learning about them, what and how they create, and how we can use the mobile art studio and our virtual art hive programming to support their creative-humaning endeavors,” Studio founder Mary Krohnert said via email.
The LivingRoom Community Art Studio gives people opportunities to make and share art for free. It was founded in 2013 and the original Oshawa drop-in store front studio space opened in 2015. Anyone could walk in and use the materials and tools to make whatever they wanted to create.
In the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Krohnert made the decision to close the storefront space and go mobile.
A 2009 Chevy Short bus was purchased with Ontario Trillium Foundation funding. It was creatively converted with help from PK Welding and Quality Collision East. Dani Crosby designed the art decals and Get Wrapped was applied. It was insured by WB White.
The Mobile Art Hive hit the streets in June 2021. After a year on the road, we asked Krohnert to reflect on how far the Mobile Art Hive has come and where it’s going next. Here’s what she shared:
1. The mobile art studio has been very popular with the public and there are a number of summer events planned. New campaigns and projects will be launched soon.
2. They offer pay-what-you-can-afford, fee-for-service visits and programming for community groups. organizations, schools and agencies — but a community doesn’t need to have funding to get programming. The paid-for services help provide opportunities for those that can’t pay, and helps maintain the mobile art hive and support the work of the artists.
“If you have a place for us to park the bus, and set up tables around it so that we can work with the community we want to hear from you,” said Krohnert.
3. Virtual programming remains an important part of the program. It provides connection and support to community members who are unable to travel to events, or who prefer to create from the comfort of their own homes.
4. Fundraising was difficult over the pandemic, when in-person events were often not possible. The organization will be selling fun merchandise designed by local artists. Art-lovers can also support the program on Canada Helps, through Facebook’s PayPal Giving Fund and the new page on Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/livingroomcommunityartstudio.
5. Someday, they might again have a drop-in space with a reimagined and redeveloped Arts Resource Centre. In the meantime, Krohnert wants to have the mobile art studio working in communities for longer periods of time rather than popping up for one-off events and then leaving.
“We want to activate spaces and places that perhaps are underutilized or underserved. We see the mobile art studio engaging with people in parks, at libraries and in and for communities that don’t have easy access to arts programming,” said Krohnert.
Visit www.livingroomcommunityartstudio.org, catch livestreams at The LivingRoom Community Art Studio Facebook page or email [email protected] for more information.