Art for Action:
Community Mural and Youth Mentorship Program

 OUA’s professional artists and facilitators work directly with communities and their supporting organizations. The Art for Action program is designed to mentor and redirect youth at risk in a creative environment, while providing hands on training in a variety of styles and mediums. We encourage youth to define and discuss issues within their community, and make their voice heard through positive forms of artistic expression.

Project Mandate:

              The arts have long been used as a tool for communication and social expression, and it is from this tradition that Ottawa Urban Arts draws their collective vision: that within each individual exists an artist, a satisfied, creative person, waiting to emerge when exposed to the appropriate medium. We believe that engaging in art allows individuals to express creativity and communicate ideas in a manner that overcomes the barrier of language and the prevailing dynamics of power.

              Youth today are aware of issues facing themselves and their communities, and are in a constant search for avenues of expression. Experience has taught us that by equipping youth with the right tools, artistic training and peer mentorship we can foster a positive environment where youth feel comfortable experimenting with the arts and expressing their opinions. This is particularly beneficial to youth who do not typically engage in social settings where athletic skill, material wealth, or social confidence are necessary requirements for participation or success.

              Our community mural mentorship program trains youth in the benefits of artistic expression using five different mediums and encourages youth to use their “artistic voice” to express their opinions about their experiences and surroundings. The atmosphere we create benefits youth artistically and socially as they are encouraged to participate in a judgement-free environment to an audience of adults and peers who are listening and engaged on a level of mutual respect.


Project Objectives:             

              The purpose of the community mural mentorship program is to empower youth to advocate for themselves and their peer group about issues within their communities in a positive, constructive way.

              Art can communicate ideas outside the structures and rules of formal language. This allows those unfamiliar, uncomfortable or uninterested in using formal language to communicate despite the presence of linguistic, socio-economic, and cultural barriers.

The artistic media used in this project are introductory tools, selected to ensure the broadest participation regardless of previous experience or perceived creative ability. Providing individuals with positive avenues of self expression, mentoring youth to refine their artistic skill and providing youth with space where this skill can be legally and positively expressed will help lessen negative, destructive behaviour often prevalent among youth; behaviours that stem from an inability to successfully engage and communicate with one’s peers and community. 

           A portion of the Art for Action program is designed to help redirect at-risk youth who have been in contact with the law for charges of graffiti. They will be encouraged to participate in discussions about the difference between positive and negative street art and their effect on the community, and on how to maximize opportunities to exercise artistic expression in a socially beneficial manner. Lead artists from Ottawa Urban Arts will mentor them on the importance of refining artistic skill through hands on involvement in the priming and painting of the outdoor mural.


Project Goals:

The goals of the Art for Action program are:

·      To train youth to express their opinions and experiences positively and creatively.

·      To equip youth with the tools necessary to express themselves.

·      To build social and artistic confidence in youth.

·      To provide community workers and advocates with a relevant understanding of the experiences of youth.

·      To foster partnerships between Ottawa Urban Arts and other community groups.

·      To create outdoor murals beneficial to the entire community that have been designed collaboratively by youth participants and professional artists from Ottawa Urban Arts.

·      To create indoor murals that fosters the artistic skill of youth participants and reminds the community at large of the voices of youth.

·         To aid in redirecting young people with a history of vandalism through positive forms of artistic expression as an alternative to previously destructive behavior.