Current Courses

For the first time since March 2020, we will be regathering as a community at our new location, in the heart of Downtown St. Catharines at Silver Spire.

The pandemic has shown many what we already know to be true: mental health is vital, social connection is vital, and access to the arts is vital. Belonging to cultural spaces and engaging in the arts has the power to deeply transform our understanding in our own value and abilities. We have managed to keep people connected to each other and arts programming during the pandemic, and we look forward to regathering in person again to create our own culture of acceptance, artistic and creative identity, and healing.

Here is a quick overview of what we are offering and working on this season.

To our current membership:

  • 105 hours of Open Studio
  • Launching a Welcome In Outdoor Community Mural project
  • 5 multi-week courses in literary, visual, and performing arts
  • Launching our Member Advisory Committee

  To the public:

  • Dropping an album of original music from Songs from the Willow and hosting an Open House for our new Willow Arts Creative Studios as part of Culture Days October 24 (more details to follow!)

What we are working on as an organization:

  • Updating our Membership Application process and revisiting our Code of Conduct, Room Agreement, and Conflict Resolution policies.
  • Begin developing a Member Manual and Instructor Manual
  • Continue to build our relationships with community partners and with Silver Spire
  • Improving communications and growing capacity for volunteers
  • Identifying new sponsors and donors to continue to support artists and creatives with lived experience of mental illness/substance use disorder in Niagara.

I continue to appreciate your ongoing patience, good humour, and understanding as we navigate the new season in our new location together. I sincerely look forward to sharing space and making art with this incredible community again.

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

Open Studio

Oct 4 – Dec 16
Your choice of: Mondays, Tuesdays OR Thursdays for 12 Weeks (excl. Thanksgiving Monday)
12 – 3 PM
20 member capacity in person

When expressing interest, please indicate which day of the week works best for you. Members can drop by between 12 – 3 PM.

Shared studio space is available to all Willow Members. The Open Studio is a great place for self-directed learning, collaboration, and resource sharing. Formal and informal mentoring occur with peers, instructors, and staff.  This season we invite you to bring a creative project to work on, or come to gain inspiration or troubleshoot and discuss possibilities with fellow Willow members. Some basic supplies will be on hand.

Projects not supported in our Open Studio include: oil paint, spray paint, encaustic, any items involving extreme heat, flame, caustic chemicals, or smells. As this is a shared space, all projects should produce minimal mess and must be removed from the tables and easels at the end of each session.

Readers’ Theatre

With: John Sweeney

Oct 7, 21, Nov 4, 18, Dec 2 16
Every other Thursday for 6 Weeks
3 – 4:30 pm
6 member capacity
ZOOM Learning

Open to all registered members

Come and share in live group readings from a variety of one act plays, short stories, and poems. Meeting every other week, we will add our individual and collective voices to “the words on the page” and bring them to life for each other. No text preparation, movement, previous training, or memory work required. Each class will feature different selection(s). The Readers’ Theatre course will include members of Willow Arts Community and the Silver Spire congregation.

Peer Editing

With: Allison Carroll

Oct 8 – Nov 5
Every Friday for 5 Weeks
2 – 4 pm
15 member capacity
In person learning

Throughout this 5-week course, Willow Members will learn to harness the power of constructive feedback to produce your best written work. Each week will include a lesson and corresponding examples and exercises, followed by a peer feedback workshop. Members will be encouraged to bring either new written work or works in progress to class so your peers will have the opportunity to provide constructive criticism. Feedback will be given based on the skills introduced and learned each week, including: editing for content and characterization, editing for grammar and punctuation, structural editing, mechanical editing, and editing for effective promotional copy.

Welcome In Community Mural

With: Jana Bergsma & Shauna MacLeod

Saturday October 16
Every Friday for 6 Weeks
11am – 1pm or 2 – 4pm
20 member capacity
In person

When expressing interest, please indicate which time works best for you.

Willow Arts Community staff and Jana Bergsma (lead artist) have designed and are co-facilitating a two-part workshop intensive for its members and the Silver Spire community. The goal is to educate, facilitate visioning and idea sharing, and lead with ideas and examples of themed outdoor murals. The theme and content of the mural will be determined by Willow Members and the Silver Spire community. A YouTube video will be circulated before the visioning session. The second workshop series will launch during the Winter 2022 season, and the outdoor mural will be painted and unveiled during the Spring 2022 season.

Songs from the Willow – Songwriting

With: Joe Lapinski & Shauna MacLeod
He/Him & She/They

Oct 27 – Dec 15
Every Wednesday for 7 Weeks
1 – 3 pm
20 member capacity
In person learning

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.

Intro to Improv

with Simon Calaycay from Improv Niagara

Oct 26 – Nov 30
Every Tuesday for 6 Weeks
1 – 3 pm
15 member capacity
In person learning

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!


With: Andrea Eby

Nov 12 – Dec 17
Every Friday for 6 Weeks
2:-30 – 4:30 pm
15 member capacity
In person learning

Come and learn the basics behind cartooning, how to do it and how it is utilized in different professional fields in this 6-week course. Each week will begin with a warm up (large scribbling, blind contour, and memory drawing) followed by a lesson on various aspects including designing your own character and how to incorporate words. Members will be invited to showcase their best piece at Silver Spire.

How to express interest:

Willow Members, please email Shauna at and let them know your first and/or second choice of classes (the Open Studio is available to all members). If you are interested in attending the Open Studio, please email and let them know the date you prefer attending (Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday). All members are welcome to express interest, even if you haven’t participated in the previous season. Shauna will confirm enrollment via email.

We are not taking new members at this time, but spaces may open up during this season. Please email Shauna at if you are interested in joining, and we will add you to the list. Thank you for your patience as we work toward keeping Willow Arts safe and funded 🙂

Willow Arts in the time of Covid-19:

Beginning Wednesday, September 22, and in conjunction with Provincial guidelines, all Willow members, volunteers, staff, instructors, and guests joining us in our spaces and anywhere inside Silver Spire will need to provide proof of full vaccination status or a medical exemption note from a doctor. We will take note the first time you visit the space, and keep record of your vaccination status for future visits.

Steps we are talking to keep our community safe:

  • All attendees will wear masks, face shields, or face coverings
  • We kindly as you to not visit if you are feeling unwell
  • Attendance will continue to be kept to assist with contact tracing
  • We will maintain social distance, and sanitize shared objects and surfaces
  • We will circulate the air with open windows and with the use of fans (when possible)

You can download a copy of your proof of vaccination status here:

Willow Arts at Silver Spire:

We are excited to welcome the members of Willow Arts Community to our new program space downtown St. Catharines within Silver Spire United Church.  This budding partnership has a foundation built on a commitment to the arts and various social justice efforts. Here are some considerations for first time visitors:

  • Silver Spire is located at 366 St. Paul Street; however, there is no entry from St. Paul Street for Willow programs.
  • Our entrance can be found if you walk toward the building down Head Street (off of Bond Street).
  • There is a parking lot on the corner of Head Street and Bond Street that sometimes has parking available; otherwise, metered parking is available on the street. We are located very close to the St. Catharines Bus Terminal.
  • This is a dynamic facility where many different activities happen throughout the day. For example, Silver Spire provides services to folks living close to the street, various recovery programs meet here, Carousel Player’s offices, rehearsal space, and youth theatre programming live here, and of course church and various church programs.
  • Our main program space is located on the second floor, next to non-accessible washrooms. There are accessible parking spots, a ramp outside the building, and a lift in the building, but no accessible washrooms close by to our program space. We are working with colleagues and Silver Spire to address this.
  • Silver Spire’s doors are locked at noon each day. We are seeking volunteers to assist us at the doors and will be looking for sustainable solutions going forward. Members, please do your best to arrive on time and on the day of your program(s). Please text 905-328-9277 if you need help gaining access to the building.
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