Why art?

Art is what makes us human. In our early life, we begin by communicating visually and artistically.

Connection and exploration through art significantly impacts the development of positive social, emotional, and intellectual milestones.

Arts education has been shown to provide multi-faceted benefits:

  • increases empathy and supportive behaviour
  • increases social and civic engagement
  • increases academic performance and interest
  • supports flexibility in problem solving
  • enhances respect and tolerance
  • empowers students with a sense of purpose and ownership

Your support of arts education at Art City Kids creates life-long learners and increases their positive social outcomes.

About art city Kids

Art City is a registered Canadian charity, established by a group of local artists & educators who sought to create more resources for children in St. James Town.

We aim to make arts education accessible to communities made vulnerable by systemic barriers by providing arts programming & day camps completely free of charge to children & youth in St. James Town.

Since 2000, Art City Kids have created many public murals, art exhibitions & creative community projects that reflect the beauty, individuality, diversity & pride in our neighbourhood.


Our Team

Heather Wilson

Executive Director [she/her]

Heather brings a love of art and a passion for community development to her work leading Art City Kids operations and programs. She believes in the power of art to inform creative solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges.

Mekayla Dionne

Program Advisor [she/her]

Mekayla is an abstract painter and installation artist. She is devoted to planning exciting programming for Art City Kids, teaching them to use art as a means of expression and to help build their confidence.

Lisa Oiwa

Volunteer & Program Coordinator [she/her]

Lisa is a visual artist who works in illustration, painting, and sculpture. She is passionate about creating space for artistic expression at Art City Kids and believes art is a tool for deeper connection between people and with oneself.

Board of Directors

Lisa Ditschun

President/Chair [she/her]

Lisa co-creates equitable and transformative solutions towards positive social change. Providing strategic direction for multi-year, high-budget portfolios, she works in the areas of urban social, cultural environmental & economic needs.

Janet Newlands

Director [she/her]

Janet has been actively engaged in the charitable and non-profit sector for over 35 years. Her creative vision combined with a passion and commitment to youth-related initiatives naturally evolved into leadership roles in multiple community organizations.

Devina Lookman

Director [she/her]

Devina is passionate about breaking down barriers for racialized and hyphenated young people to experience art freedom and justice. She is delighted to bring her nonprofit arts management knowledge, perspectives, ideas, connections, and energy to the work of Art City in St. James Town.

Adam Krehm

Director [he/him]

Adam is committed to contributing to community. He is passionate about the role of art in instilling creativity and believes that equipping Art City Kids with creativity and critical thinking skills bestows invaluable life lessons for a successful future.

Alia Toor

Director (previous Chair) [she/her] Currently on leave

Alia is an accomplished educator and researcher with a proven ability to use progressive educational practices. Her multi-media art practice uses language and images to explore the complexities of personal/private space, and the intersections of religion, language, and beauty.

Annika Duveneck

Treasurer [she/her]

Annika loves supporting Art City Kids because of the smiles and positive impact it brings to her local community. She enjoys working with organizations who understand the importance of community and creativity skills in business.

Wing-Yee Fung

Director [she/her]

Wing-Yee is a strong believer that creative problem solving is the key to an equitable future. She believes in the power of food & art as universal connectors and by solutions that intersect multiple areas of need, such as education access and food sovereignty. 

karen Vianna

Director [she/her]

Karen has been working in the graphic design industry for over 20 years and has participated in a youth-focused hip-hop dance troupe. She has a strong belief in the benefits of community arts programs for children and their positive impact on new immigrant communities and families. 

May Ardekani Rouhani

Director [she/her]

May Rouhani has a deep passion for the art world and building community relationships. She is a seasoned fundraiser and passionate about connecting those who care to the causes they care about, and demonstrating the value of their support.

Zia Wang

Director [she/her]

Zia has been working in the Charitable and Social sector for more than 10 years and is deeply committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the community. Zia believes in the power of art in representing thoughts and building a sense of self-worth.