Young at Art: Opportunities for Ottawa’s Artists of Tomorrow


Every day young artists practice their passion for the arts in their school classrooms, private studios, or even at home in their basements. For the past 10 years, the City of Ottawa has been providing artists between the ages of 12 to 19 with opportunities to showcase their creations through a program called Young at Art. This year, City staff members have taken the program to a new level, one they hope will help these burgeoning artists to get a small glimpse of what it is like to be a true professional.

“We are extremely excited about everything the program has to offer this year. When conducting surveys last year we really got a sense that the artists needed something more, so this year they will be exhibiting their work in three galleries across Ottawa,” says Tina Spencer, Young at Art Project Coordinator. “Their work will then be celebrated by a vernissage at each gallery, and to wrap things up, we will be hosting an awards ceremony at Ottawa City Hall.”

Artists are encouraged to submit one piece of artwork within seven categories. Works vary from paintings to pottery to mixed media to creations using nails, strings and pop cans. More than 300 local Ottawa students spend hours toiling and creating unique and original works of art in a variety of mediums to be evaluated by a professional jury. The result is an exceptional collection of original and inspiring artwork created by some of Ottawa’s most talented youth.

“Young at Art has provided me with an amazing opportunity to showcase my artwork, says Haley Sweet, a 17-year-old from Earl of March Secondary School. The experience so far has been a great one.”

The works of art will be displayed beginning April 24, 2015 with a vernissage at Kanata Civic Art Gallery, John Mlacak Centre on April 24 at 7 p.m.; Trinity Art Gallery, Shenkman Arts Centre on April 27 at 7 p.m.; and Atrium and NFAL Galleries, Ben Franklin Place on April 28 at 7 p.m. The awards and recognition ceremony honouring outstanding work in various categories will be presented at the City-wide awards night on May 13.

The idea for this type of program was brought forth by local artist and avid arts volunteer David Goold in 1996. A group of artists with the Kanata Civic Art Gallery quickly embraced it and grew Young at Art into a successful west-end event. Everyone could see the merit in recognizing achievements by young visual artists and the City of Ottawa Cultural Services Department picked up the torch soon after and turned it into the citywide event that it is today. David Goold couldn’t be more pleased. 

“I wanted to create an opportunity for young artists to display their amazing work and allow the community to enjoy it as well.  There was no program like this available to youth,” says Goold. “Art needs to be prospered and encouraged and our youth is where we need to start.”

For exhibiting artists, Young at Art is only the beginning of their artistic journey. Winners are rewarded with prizes that will help them grow further as artists. One award in particular, presented by the Nepean Creative Arts Centre, allows two artists to use studios rent-free for the summer months to work on their artwork and hone their craft. See  for details. 

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