Memberships grant access to artistic programs and creative opportunities and are free for artists and creatives (18+) with lived or living experience of mental illness/substance use in Niagara.  Membership is suitable for individuals who are motivated to explore their creatives identities, artists that already have a dedicated arts practice, and creatives looking to connect and learn alongside peers.

Willow Members join with various goals in mind. These can include: coming to a weekly drop-in Open Studio to meet peers and explore making art, attending multi-week courses and showcasing work in group presentations, performances, or publications, or becoming a peer facilitator and leading workshops. There are programs and opportunities for all levels of experience. You do not have to be a “good artist” to join. Many members join to meet like minded individuals and to explore the arts and learn new skills in a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment.

Willow Arts provides programming and opportunities during our seasons Fall (September – Early December), Winter (January. – March), and Spring (April – June). Past season programs have supported visual arts (painting, drawing, sculptures, photography), performing arts (songwriting and performance, improv, readers’ theatre, spoken word), literary arts (short story and poetry, zines) and fibre arts (upcycled fashion, batik). Members respond each season to participate.

Willow Members have indicated these benefits of joining:

  • Increased sense of value and belonging to a community
  • Feelings of motivation, creativity, and inspiration
  • Increased social interaction and development of communication skills, accountability, and goal setting
  • Access to arts courses and creative outlets gives members a sense of hope and a sense of purpose
  • Relationships with family and friends have improved as a result of creative activities
  • Increased skills related to art practices and a higher level of output
  • Larger professional and social network
  • Improved employability skills
  • Meaningful activities resulting in fewer negative mental health symptoms

Willow Member Testimonials:

“I have looked my whole life to fit into something. A place where I could express my artistic side and also grow it. This is what Willow has done for me.”

“Helps me make time to focus on art projects, helps with marketing, growth development and training, social aspects and connecting to other artists who are creating and selling work.”

“I find the programs not only therapeutic, but also enabling, educational and challenging. The Willow program is primarily responsible for my pursuit of the arts at a professional level. I look forward to continued growth opportunities through the Willow.”

“It’s a non-judgmental space to learn and create.”

“I enjoy the community. Trusting and setting healthy boundaries in a safe environment. Playing with like- minded artists and learning from each other. And knowing that the instructors have been down similar paths gives me hope.”

“It helps me to have opportunities to express myself creatively and develop my artistic skills. I have made valuable connections and friendships there.”

Here is the process to join:

1. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions and check out our website and social media to make sure we are a good fit for you!

2. Send an email to thewillowcommunity@gmail.com or call 905-328-9277 to express interest in joining.

3. Staff will ask basic questions to ensure suitability (are you 18+, do you have lived or living experience of mental illness/substance use, do you live in Niagara, have you read our Frequently Asked Questions and checked out our website and social media to see if we are a good fit). We will never ask you to disclose personal details about your mental health.

4. An online application and our Code of Conduct will be emailed. Additional support can be provided on the phone. The application asks about your previous and current artistic and creative experiences, asks you to consider your goals and identity as an artist or creative individual, and inquires about any accessibility and safety needs to ensure we can support your participation.

5. Staff will indicate if there is a waiting list. You will be notified if/when your application has been approved.

6. Members will have the opportunity to update their memberships each year as goals may change.