Current Courses

Willow Arts is thrilled to launch a new season of artistic programs and opportunities. We look forward to welcoming back our current membership, and opening the doors to new members. Here is a quick overview of what we are offering this season:

  • 50.5 hours of Open Studio (new this season – a separate Musician & Performer Open Studio, plus day and evening options)
  • Skill Share – a paid opportunity for Willow Members to share their expertise with their peers at the Open Studio
  • 3 multi-week arts training courses in songwriting, improv, and collage, a movement workshop, plus submissions will open for our next zine “Your Personal Protest” with a workshop from the editor
  • “Welcome In”, a large outdoor community mural at Silver Spire
  • Showcase opportunities at Mahtay Café and more to be announced in the coming weeks.

This season we are proud to work with PenFinancial Credit Union as our arts training sponsor this season. With their financial support and commitment to truly local impact, together we are able to provide weekly access to arts training courses led by local artists. Our members will gain skills, create new work, build relationships, and have the opportunity to showcase their talents to an audience. Contributions like this allow us to reduce barriers and provide exceptional artistic opportunities to artists and creatives with lived experience of mental illness/substance use in Niagara.

With love and gratitude,
Shauna MacLeod
Director of Willow Arts Community

Spring 2022 Open Studio

April 19 – June 29

Visual Arts Open Studios
Tuesdays 6 – 7:30 PM
Wednesdays 2 – 4 PM
(Skipping June 14)
Willow Arts Creative Studio at Silver Spire

Musician & Performer Open Studio
Mondays 6 – 7:30 PM
(Skipping May 23)
Silver Spire Sanctuary

Shared space is available to all Willow Members. The Open Studio is a great place for self-directed learning, collaboration, and resource sharing. Bring a creative project to work on, or come to gain inspiration and discuss possibilities with your peers. Some basic supplies will be on hand.

Songs from the Willow – Songwriting

with Joe Lapinski he/him

Dates: April  18 – May 31 (7 Tuesdays)
Time: 1 – 3 PM
Location: Silver Spire Sanctuary
20 member capacity

We’ve all got a song inside of us that needs to be revealed. We’ll look at a wide variety of techniques that will help in the process of songwriting: listening to music together, writing exercises, meditation, discussion, collaboration, and more! We will also spend time during classes looking at a specific genre or style of music and examining what makes it “tick”. We’ll use this as inspiration for our own writing. Our discoveries may lead to complete songs, or simply the seeds to songs that we pursue outside of class. Rehearsals and show date TBA.

Your Personal Protest – Zine Workshop

with Kerry Duncan they/them

Date: Thursday, April 21
Time: 6 – 8 PM
Location: On Zoom
Open to all members

To help launch our 2022 zine topic “Your Personal Protest”, Kerry Duncan from OPIRG Brock will lead a two hour workshop to introduce the theme and illustrate the various histories and ways to make a zine. “Your Personal Protest” gives space for members to share what they care about in the world. Participants will be encouraged to showcase what issues, experiences and calls for action enrage us, encourage us, disappoint us, and motivate us to take action and resist. Resistance takes many forms, and “Your Personal Protest” is a place to come together in a space of co-rage, expression, and solidarity.

A check in is scheduled for Thursday June 16, 6 – 7 PM on Zoom. Submissions deadline is June 24.

Collage Techniques

with Jenn Judson she/her

Dates: May 6 – June 10 (6 Fridays)
Time: 3:30 – 5 PM
Location: Willow Arts Creative Studio at Silver Spire
15 member capacity

This course explores the dynamic medium of collage as a calming way to stay connected and creative in these challenging times. Participants will learn the fundamentals of composition, layering, abstraction and self reflection using various collage techniques and experimentation. Throughout the six weeks, we will cover the entire process of conceptualizing, assembling, and finishing. Techniques such as photo transfers and texture building will be covered as building blocks to the creation of amazing collages. By the end of the course, students will give a second life to their found materials and be able to recognize a deep beauty in the simple scraps we often ignore in our day to day life. Step-by-step lessons will help participants to grow their skills, confidence and unique, creative style! Participants of this course will be invited to showcase their work at a 5 x 2 event at Mahtay Cafe June 14.

Abstract Movement

With Tonia M’igyver she/her

Date: Saturday, May 14
Time: 2 – 3:30 PM
Location: Silver Spire Gymnasium
20 member capacity

Celebrate the expression of joy through movement, rhythm, and playful exploration. Learn how to stretch and move in unconventional ways in a safe environment. No previous experience necessary. This course can be adapted to all bodies and abilities. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring a reusable water bottle.

Intro to Improv

with Simon Calaycay he/him

Dates: May 17 – June 21 (6 Tuesdays)
Time: 1 – 3 PM
Location: Silver Spire Auditorium
15 member capacity

Improv is a naturally social artform, and this course is designed to bring people together. Each week, we will work on a different performance game and learn specific skills and the fundamentals of improv so the players can have the most fun during their scene. We will lean into spontaneity, suspend judgment, and find comfort and joy in two to three minute scenes. No experience necessary. Come prepared to laugh! Participants of this course will be invited to showcase their skill in an Improv Niagara show at Mahtay Cafe on June 22.


This season, we are celebrating the diversity and expertise that make up the Willow Arts Community membership. Willow Members are encouraged to apply for a paid opportunity to share a skill, provide a demonstration, workshop a new song, or talk about any aspect of your arts practice to your peers.  Members are offered a $50 honorarium, which can be paid via gift card or cheque.

This opportunity is made possible thanks to a City of St. Catharines Arts Development Fund.

Welcome In Community Mural

With Jana Bergsma she/they

Dates: May 29 – June 11
Time: various times available
Location: Silver Spire Open to all Willow Members, and the vibrant community at Silver Spire.

Silver Spire has partnered with Willow Arts Community to create a mural we are calling Welcome In. The mural will be a large patchwork quilt wrapping around the south entrances of the building. Each patch will be painted by a member of the diverse Silver Spire community. Quilts symbolize resourcefulness, heritage and warmth. Many various pieces of fabric can be stitched together to create a beautiful and functional whole. It is a great way to showcase our skills and build relationships with others who share the space. All Willow Members are encouraged to sign up for a time spot. Practice templates will be available at the visual arts open studio.

Click here to learn more about this project: Please email Jana for additional info and to register for a time. This project is generously funded by the City of St. Catharines Cultural Investment Program.

How to participate this season:

Willow Members, please email Shauna at and let them know if you’d like to register for an arts training course (songwriting, improv, collage, and/or abstract movement). Spots are limited and attendance is taken. All Willow Members will be emailed the zoom link for the zines workshop. Information and submission details will be circulated via email after the workshop.

Willow Members are welcome to drop by any and all scheduled Open Studios during the season. Let Shauna know if you are interested in receiving the application to apply for the new Skill Share opportunity. (It’s very simple!)

Please email Jana Bergsma directly ( to sign up for a paint time for the mural project.

NEW MEMBERS: Folks must first register as a Willow Member before attending programming. The online application and a review of our Code of Conduct can be completed via email or by phone. Email or call 905-328-9277 to join. Spots are limited. Visit our website to learn more.

Memberships are free and available to adult (18+) artists and creatives with lived or living experience of mental illness/substance use in Niagara. No formal referral required.

Covid-19 Updates:

  • We kindly as you to not visit if you are feeling unwell
  • We will maintain social distance, attendance records, and sanitize shared objects and surfaces
  • We will circulate the air with open windows and with the use of fans (when possible)
  • Mask are not mandatory, but recommended

Proof of vaccination is no longer required.

Location and Accessibility:

Willow Arts is centrally located downtown St. Catharines within Silver Spire United Church at 366 St. Paul St. There is a ramp to enter the building and a lift to access all floors. There is one accessible washroom, plus a couple genderless washrooms throughout the building. There is a small parking lot at the corner of Bond and Head St, with entrances off of St. Paul St and Bond St.

Willow members are asked to arrive on time or 10 minutes early to help staff move people throughout the large building. The church doors are typically locked. Text 905-328-9277 if you need assistance getting into the building.

Silver Spire is also home to Carousel Players (theatre organization for youth) as well as various recovery programs in the evenings. The church hosts a shower program for homeless people, and from time to time the church serves as a drop in shelter for folks living close to the street. It is a dynamic and busy building where the arts and social justice meet.

Willow Arts Mission:

Willow Arts Community is an arts + peer support organization dedicated to reducing barriers and providing opportunities for adult artists and creatives living with mental illness/substance use disorder in Niagara.

We use the arts as an agent of social change by connecting and engaging the public through exhibitions, publications, and performances to lessen the effects of stigma and social isolation.


An inclusive community where all levels of artistic expression is celebrated.

Willow Arts is a registered charity.
To donate please visit:

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