Art program finding success in helping homeless flip crafts for cash
Homeless artists are able to find patrons for their work through a volunteer-run program at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen.
CALGARY -- The impact of shutdowns and restrictions due to COVID-19 is being felt by everyone, including the homeless population.
A volunteer at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen has been able to inspire some of its client’s creative side.
“I saw this huge need in this population for leisure and meaningful activity because I feel like we’re fulfilling these basic needs of food, water and shelter,” Resilient Art YQL founder Tannis Chartier said. “But we weren’t getting higher up on the chain to provide activity and meaning to their lives which is such a catalyst for a bigger change.”
The artists who participate create pieces once a week which are then sold on the program’s Facebook page.
Resilient Art YQL has seen over 25 people participate in their art program.
“We’ve sold pieces for up to $100. We just started making a colouring book with two of my artists, Richard and Louie, and we sold 120 of them,” said Chartier. “We’re obviously going to work with them in the best way to support them in that sense. Whether that be getting them a place to stay with that money or whatever, we’re dreaming big.”
For artists, it’s humbling.
“We pick up things that we need. Extra clothing or extra boots,” said Resilient Art YQL client Richard Woslyng. “I have always drawn something. I don’t consider myself an artist.”
For the program that began simply as a way to provide recreational activity, it is certainly exceeding its own expectations, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“It’s a really good idea to keep people's minds on something else,” said Woslyng.
Chartier is well aware that not everyone will be flocking to her Facebook page to buy her clients’ art, but she does hope people can appreciate what Resilient ART YQL is trying to do.
“We can complain about the homelessness problem in Lethbridge, we can complain about the different things that are happening or we can try to make a change and bring meaning and purpose to people, and I would just encourage people to do just that.”