Nikki Campbell Schram has been passionate about the arts since she was a toddler singing along to Disney songs, a young girl playing with paints at Grandma’s house and a teenager cast as one of the leads in her high school musical.
But in her adult life what she has come to find is that her passion for the arts is only equalled by her love of collaborating with young people. Nikki has been teaching the arts through a variety of disciplines for many years; Girl Guides, the ArtsAround program in Hamilton, Cross Cultural Solutions in Ghana, West Africa and San Carlos, Costa Rica and most recently at Lighthouse Festival Theatre.
“I have had many young people come through my programs and I’ve had the honour of watching them grow in talent and in height!” she says, “but best of all I get the privilege to watch them become more themselves than ever before – to watch them develop an identity, a character. And with that comes this beautiful thing: self confidence and a feeling of self worth. That is what makes this job so important to me.
Nikki Campbell Schram worked at Lighthouse Festival Theatre as their Youth Coordinator for almost four years. She greatly enjoyed the artistic opportunities that the LFT Youth Program demanded; including teaching classes, directing, designing and painting sets, making costumes, and even writing original plays for the young actors. She loved being part of the Young Company program in the summer, where she stage managed Peter Pan, Cinderella, Snow White and most recently The Wizard of Oz. “The talented people I have met and worked with are also in my top favourite-parts-of-my-job list,” she says, “It’s amazing what I have learned from them. Actors, directors, playwrights, teachers. My bosses, my co-workers, my friends, all of these people I have met through Lighthouse Theatre have helped shape me into the person I am today. I can’t thank them enough.”Upon learning that Lighthouse would be taking a different direction with the youth programs and stepping away from winter/fall classes and camps, Nikki was inspired to start something herself in the year of 2014. She was saddened to think that the youth she had been teaching in the Port Dover area would no longer have this resource close to home.
Then, with the encouragement and support from her family, friends and Lighthouse Theatre, Nikki was ready to introduce ‘Art with HEART’. “The dream is to one day be able to offer all types of classes including visual, musical and dramatic arts” she said “they are limiting arts programs in schools, so there needs to be a place where children can grow and thrive in the arts; my goal is to make ‘Art with HEART’ that place one day.” She began with her first and now very popular Drama Kidz program. With this program, Nikki would teach fundamental drama skills such as voice, projection and movement, and also offer opportunities for learning in other areas of theatre such as lighting, sound, costumes, props and set design. For each Drama Kidz program, Nikki would write the show that the company would produce. Her first Drama Kidz show was ‘Back to the Past (2014), then ‘April Fools!’ (2015) and then in 2016, ‘Imagine That!’
Fast forward two years after she began Art with Heart, Nikki is now pleased to be opening Art with Heart Studio on Main Street in Port Dover, which she hopes to be a ‘hub for creativity and artistic learning’ in Norfolk County. Programming has expanded greatly, from just Drama Kidz to Art Club, Paint Parties and Adult Wine and Paint Nights, summer camps and more. The plan for the new studio is even more programming, a gallery to display Nikki’s work, and a local handmade gift shop which will also include art supplies for sale.
The future looks bright for Art with Heart!