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A Brief History of The Art Studios


The Fiddle Faddle Arts Center (now The Art Studios) began in 1992 with the idea that people have many creative talents that survive and grow despite the devastating effects of mental illness. It became clear from feedback from other mental health teams, including The Kettle Friendship Society and West Coast Mental Health Network, that the need for a studio space for clients from all groups was needed.

"The Art Studios" by Bill Pope, "back when it was located at Quebec & 3rd Ave."

“The Art Studios” by Bill Pope, “back when it was located at Quebec & 3rd Ave.”

The dream of a dedicated art space for began to take shape. Led by Juanita Spurrell and Regina Casey, Mental Health Occupational Therapists, Psych Nurses and Rehabilitation Assistants a proposal was submitted to the Executive Director of Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services. He agreed that there was a need and provided a space. In September 1994 the now named Art Studios opened its doors on Quebec St. in Vancouver.

20140710_162112In a windowless room with no kiln and no easels The Fiddle Faddle Arts Center invited clients from mental health teams across Greater Vancouver to attend classes. Members were encouraged to be active in the development of the program from the beginning.

With donated equipment and a very limited budget, the program was coordinated by the passionate team of Occupational Therapists from up to five different mental health teams.

Regina Casey & Sarah Sinanan 2013

Regina Casey & Sarah Sinanan 2013

Regina Casey, Juanita Spurrell, Bonnie Phillips, Ann Webborn, Shirley Kolb, Bonnie Norquay, Jennifer Babcock, and more are credited with getting this program started. There have been many who have supported us over the years including many staff and Occupational Therapist students from UBC.

In the beginning most of the instructors were Occupational Therapists or Volunteers. Over time skilled clients with a background in art were invited to assist, mentor or teach the classes. Initially offering only Pottery, over time Knitting, Sewing, Creative Writing, Watercolour Painting, Chinese Painting, Mixed Media, Sculpture, Acrylic Painting, Handicrafts and Guitar Lessons were just some of the classes added to the program.  Now Classes also include Printmaking, Art & Creativity, Youth, Older Adult, various Workshops and Open Studio time.

Firefox_Screenshot_2016-03-09T23-54-46.394ZBy October 1995 The Art Studios became a partnership between three funded agencies: Arbutus Vocational Services, Coast Foundation Society and Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services Society. As the program grew Program Managers were hired which included Regina Casey, followed by Sarah Sinanan, Mariella Bozzer and the current part-time Manager, Stephany Berinstein.

Some Instructors have since gone on to hone their skills by taking classes at Emily Carr and other Art Institutes. And some members became Peer Support Workers and returned to assist other clients taking classes at The Art Studios.

Winter Sale (105)The Art Studios has been a successful, client-centered leisure program. It is one of the programs where clients and professionals work together in partnership in all aspects of The Art Studios. The Planning Committee has become a cohesive group dealing with issues as they come up.

The strength and effectiveness of the committee lies with the members. The majority in the committee are consumer members. All of the people involved are committed to a vision which started with the idea that creative art should be available to all who are affected by mental illness.


Staff 2013 (l-r) Jenn Smolinski, Sarah Sinanan, Ann Webborn, Monica Budac, Cate Curtis & Rivka Stein