When I was just a teeny tiny little person, my grandmother put a paintbrush in my hand and told me that whatever I did with it would be beautiful. I believed in myself, because someone believed in me.
When I was in grade 8, I was surprised at my grade eight graduation with an arts scholarship. Imagine a quirky, awkward and overly self conscious 12 year old version of Art with Heart Studio Founder/CEO Nikki Campbell making her way across the stage in a poofy dress, utterly astounded and taken aback. I didn’t know my music teacher had nominated me for the scholarship months prior to graduation, and that out of the many nominees I had been selected to receive the award. All I knew was in that moment, I felt incredibly honoured and more motivated than ever to pursue my musical goals now that finances were no longer a barrier. Professional singing lessons? Recording a demo? Enrolling in a dance class to up my triple threat game? The world was suddenly my oyster, because someone believed in me.
Then in high school, I auditioned for a role in my high school’s musical. I had auditioned earlier in my high school career and did not get in, so I was very nervous, but hopeful. This time, I searched for my name in the chorus but did not find it. I scanned the document all the way up to the top, heart beating loudly in my ears, and found my name printed neatly at the top of the page. The lead role. Someone I respected believed in me so of course I had to believe in myself.
Who would I be today, had I not been empowered in my artistic abilities from a very young age? Had those innate abilities not been encouraged and nurtured throughout my childhood? Had I not been given the tools I needed to practise, to hone my skills? Not had access to quality arts education and exploration, enrolled in vocal and music classes, auditioned for community theatre? Had I not accepted that music scholarship in grade eight. Where would I be today without those opportunities? Without the confidence in those abilities that came from those opportunities?
Where would I be today if those people had not believed in me? If, in turn, I had not believed in myself?
And the answer is, I truly do not know who I would be today, where I would have ended up, what I would be doing now.
But I do know this.
Art with Heart Studio would very likely not exist.
I wouldn’t have had the vision, or the confidence to bring that vision into reality.
It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? After operating for over 7 years now, Art with Heart Studio has become a much loved piece of fabric woven into the colourfully quilted landscape that is Norfolk – ESPECIALLY for youth! It isn’t often that I run into a young person who hasn’t attended an Art with Heart birthday party, or summer camp, class, field trip, show or had us visit their school. But even more than being recognizable, it’s the CONNECTIONS they have made here. Art they have created. Friendships they have made. People they have inspired and who have inspired them.
Art with Heart Studio is a place to BELIEVE in the power of who you are, and create art (and confidence and magic!) with that belief.
THIS is why I am so deeply passionate about what we do here at Art with Heart Studio. Because I know what a profound impact we can make in the lives of young people. I know how deeply important we are to the community we serve. And this is why I am overcome with joy when I think of our newest sponsorship/scholarship program that we recently developed. Because this program is the key to our sustainability. It’ll ensure that Art with Heart Studio endures long after Leanne and I are gone and no longer working tirelessly to ensure its survival.
At Art with Heart Studio, it is our firm belief that everyone deserves barrier free access to arts programming. In our current pandemic world, barriers have become the new normal because they help us stay safe. The plexiglass barriers for cashiers, or face masks for instance. They are necessary. However, the long list of necessary barriers have also created new and unique barriers specifically when it comes to access to arts programming. School classrooms are taught by one homeroom teacher, so their students’ access to arts education is dependent on their teacher’s comfort and ability in teaching the subject, as well as any financial restrictions they may have with regards to supplies.
People often ask why we turned a successful business into a nonprofit organization over a year ago – THIS is why; To be able to provide inclusive, barrier-free access to arts programming for ALL Norfolk County youth.
This dream of a scholarship program has been years in the making and is finally made reality with help from our incredible corporate sponsors. We are so proud to be able to align ourselves with like-minded business leaders who share our core values and are making a real impact in our community. We are even more ecstatic to be able to extend fantastic benefits of giving through our Corporate Sponsorship program, which works in tandem with our Get Cre8ive Scholarships program; Give. Receive. Repeat!
You see, we believe that together we are stronger. Only with the help of our corporate sponsors like Nova Mutual and Norfolk Dental Hygiene (and hopefully MORE in the coming weeks!), are we able to provide FREE arts programming scholarships to local youth who need them most. And what does that do for the community?
Empowered youth can move mountains, and empowered youth artists? They have the vision to paint a whole new view. The gift of creativity is a gift that keeps on giving.
Which takes us to the “Receiving” end; The Get Cre8ive Scholarship Program!
Families with financial need or other barriers can now apply for our Get Cre8ive Scholarships online (to visit our application, please click here!), and if selected, will grant their young artist(s) into their choice of our many visual, musical and dramatic arts programs. In a chaotic time where seemingly everything has barriers, by engaging and empowering youth creatively, we are giving them the gift of adaptability in a world that is constantly changing. They are gaining confidence in their unique vision and decision making with every brushstroke. We want to make sure that every single child has access to that paintbrush, and all the many beautiful possibilities that come with it.
And personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next for us all.
When we look back years from now and wonder “how did Art with Heart Studio make it through the pandemic?” we will know without a shadow of a doubt; It was all because this community, in return, believed in US. And that is the most beautiful example of Give, Receive, Repeat! that I could ever even hope for.
With love, determination, hope for the future, and everlasting belief,