Linda McMaster is the executive director at Artbarn School located at 250 Eglinton Ave W. She started the organization in 2005 as a not-for-profit and has overseen the school’s growth since. She recently sat down with Sheliza Esmail from The Eglinton Way to talk about the school and its journey.
It’s a wet and snowy morning when Linda and I meet at Phipps Café. I get there first and choose a table, it’s early and we’re the first ones in that morning. Linda arrives a moment later and greets me with her ever-friendly smile. We spend a few minutes catching up before the interview.
The Eglinton Way: Linda, can you tell me about the classes at Artbarn School?
Linda: Artbarn offers a wide variety of classes for kids and adults. We accommodate children as young as one year old, and have session’s specific to toddlers, pre-school, and after school. A full range of classes is also available for adults. Our artistic themes are just as broad ranging. The courses taught include oil painting, water colours, pottery, and more. We offer speciality classes focused on creative styles from different cultures. Of course, all the classes are tailored to the appropriate age group.
The Eglinton Way: There’s definitely something for everyone in that broad selection. Many children and adults spend so much time in front of a screen these days, the programs at Artbarn really contrast that.
Linda: Everything we do is hands-on and the environment at the school is very social. Students connect to their peers and instructors in meaningful ways and experience genuine interaction.
The Eglinton Way: That sounds refreshing. What are the upcoming projects at Artbarn School?
Linda: Our camp programs are very busy. The March break day camps are already open for registration and we are working with the North Toronto Soccer Club again this summer to collaborate with their day camps. We do weekly sessions with the soccer school where children spend their morning on the field and their afternoon in art classes with a different theme each week. Parents can sign their children up for full or half days and different weeks depending on their schedules.
The Eglinton Way: What other partners in the community have you been working with?
Linda: Last year we received a grant from StreetART Toronto for the mural painting project at the Eglinton Park Field House. We also received the Ontario Trillium grant to install an accessible washroom facility, and a summer student job grant to support Artbarn School’s camp programming. Since September 2016, the Royal Conservatory School has been offering classes at Artbarn as well.
The Eglinton Way: Music is art too. It’s great to hear that you’ve been working with other creative schools in the city. Have you been with the organization all along?
Linda: Yes, after forming Artbarn School in 2005 we worked to become a registered charity. Now we run a scholarship program through the school for children who cannot afford the programs, as well as running an annual fundraiser. Our annual fundraiser, Raising Artists 2017, is in February. We have some excellent art donations that will be displayed at the school as part of a silent auction.
The Eglinton Way: I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes!