November 2021, Simcoe – Art with Heart Studio is the recipient of a $44,000 Community Building Fund grant. The funding is part of the Government of Ontario’s $105 million program to support community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation organizations, that are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is managed by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


Art with Heart Studio is using this funding to cover operating costs – including staff salaries, cleaning supplies and equipment, rent, and utilities – for six months while it rebuilds its youth theatre, visual arts, and music programming.

Art with Heart Studio’s Artistic Director and founder Nikki Campbell is grateful for the support.

“The last 19 months have been challenging,” Campbell said. “There were a few times that we weren’t sure how we’d be able to keep the operating, but we had great support from the community and were able to make adjustments. Starting to get back to normal is a relief.”

Campbell, along with Executive Director Leanne Zyba, worked straight through the pandemic without pay in order to keep the organization afloat. Art with Heart Studio was able to sustain itself by adapting programming online, offering new retail options, and through sponsorship contributions.

AWH closed entirely from March 13-July 13, 2020; Dec 26th 2020-February 15, 2021; and April 3rd, 2021-July 5th, 2021. All 2020 and 2021 in-person performances and fundraisers were cancelled. When open, occupancy restrictions limit enrolment to 30% potential capacity. The limited revenue the duo was able to generate went to paying part-time instructors, rent, and utilities.

“Leanne and I were basically working as volunteers. It was difficult and scary at times, but we looked at it as an investment in ourselves, and our dream of what Art with Heart could be. We knew that if we made it out of the pandemic, we’d come back stronger than ever. This grant is going to help us move towards that goal much sooner.”

“It is fantastic news that local organizations are receiving a hand up,” Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett said. “The past 19 months have been, and in many cases continue to be, extremely difficult for not-for-profits to engage in any activity that sustains their programs and causes. I truly hope this funding will help get the ball rolling so we can realize what it feels like to come together as a community once again.”

Art with Heart’s mission is to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space that enriches and empowers the community through engagement in the arts, and to encourage all people’s artistic journeys, allowing them the freedom to imagine and sparking in them the inspiration to create. For more information about Art with Heart Studio – including its new slate of theatre, visual arts and music programs – visit or the organization’s Facebook page @artwithheartstudio