Our mission is to provide a fully-equipped, safe and accepting community–based arts studio for people living with severe and persistent mental illness and/or addictions. The healing process is based on the integration of the principles of occupational therapy, mental health, primary care, visual arts and vocational counseling. We support our members on their self-guided journey to self-expression through art, greater self-esteem, improved confidence and eventually increased participation within the larger community.
Founded in 1998, the Studio 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 offers healing and recovery through the arts for those living with severe and persistent mental health challenges. The Studio is non-denominational, was pioneered, and is led by Isabel Fryszberg, an occupational therapist and practicing artist.
Open throughout the week, the Studio receives clients from mental health agencies across the city and helps them make a comfortable return to an active and meaningful life in the larger community. The Studio provides a non-judgmental environment where each person is treated as an artist first, rather than a patient, and is encouraged to reach their highest skill level and potential through purposeful and inspiring creative art initiatives. As a result, their general life skills and ability to cope in the larger community also improve.
The Studio is actively involved in mental health research and in community and educational outreach as a means of disseminating information and reducing the stigma of mental illness. We welcome your interest and involvement in our organization as a participant, supporter or volunteer!
For Contact information and Referral Forms please visit our Contact page
- Men and women between the ages of 18 – 80, who come from diverse educational and socio-economic backgrounds.
- Members make almost 2,500 client visits a year.
- 25% of the members who joined the Studio in 2009 have since returned to full or part-time work, returned to school, or have decreased their hospital time.
- 95% of the Studio members have improved their life skills and sense of well-being, through increased productivity, participation, and socialization, while sharing in the studio environment.
- Many members have entered art shows and have sold their work.
Watch Michael Kirby visit the Creative Works Studio here
In 1997, the program was pioneered through the leadership of Isabel Fryszberg, Occupational Therapist and practicing artist as a 1 afternoon a week program with one arts volunteer in St. Michael’s Hospital, supplementing mental health programs that had sustained serious funding cuts. Through hallway art shows, the program gained supporters, outgrew its facilities and moved out into the community. Demand for the program led to both an increase in the number of sessions and innovative partnerships with community based groups, Sisters of St. Joseph the Mustard Seed, JVS Toronto, and most recently a significant and important collaboration with Good Shepherd Homes. In 2007 another important partnership developed through a volunteer based group that works year round towards our annual fundraising event called the Art Gems. The Art Gems was founded by Ronnie Kaplansky and is now directed by Ginny Leuty. Our unique hybrid program that bridges mental health, art community and culture has gained the interest of health care providers across the GTA, nationally and internationally.