Creative Growth- Looking Back at the SAAAC Creative Initiative
In April 2015, visual artist and social entrepreneur Amir Akbari approached SAAAC to develop an inclusive painting program. He believed everyone had the capacity to create art, and wanted to showcase the artistic merit of individuals with autism. The process to creating a structured arts based program at SAAAC began with generous donations from three incredible groups: Erickumar Emmanuel of Mortgage Alliance R & R Mortgage, TET, and University of Ottawa Tamil Students’ Union. In late May 2015, SAAAC Creative was born and we hosted a launch party to introduce the initiative to the community:
Artistic Minds Painting Program
Our first achievement was creating a weekly painting program offered to 10-15 newcomer youths. Artists in the program learned basic principles such as colour mixing, brush techniques, blending and shading. Adapted lessons and techniques allowed our artists to develop and reinforce fundamental painting practices in a creative and fun atmosphere.
Unseen Dreams Art Exhibition
The program soon began developing talented artists and producing unique, original art work. To showcase our program and artists, SAAAC held its inaugural art exhibition entitled “Unseen Dreams”. Showcasing local practising artists alongside SAAAC student artists, the goal of the show was to provide our students with the opportunity to be recognized as creative equals and ultimately to enhance their sense of social integration. Fifty percent of art sale proceeds went towards enhancing SAAAC arts programming and the other 50% went to our artists. For many of them, it was the first time they had ever been compensated for work they had done.
Greeting Card Initiative
To continue to showcase the talent of our student artists and provide employment opportunities through the arts, SAAAC began our greeting card line- a collection of greeting cards that could be used for any occasion, featuring original artwork by SAAAC artists. The greeting card collection was a visual representation of the great creativity that is possible when individuals with autism are appropriately engaged and supported artistically. One third of all proceeds from the sale of greeting cards went to employing young adults who assemble the greeting card collection and prepared them for distribution. The remaining 2/3 of proceeds was invested back into the arts program to help even more students develop skills through the arts.
As we close the book on a year of SAAAC Creative programming and initiatives, we are incredibly proud of the great artists and art produced by the program. SAAAC Creative is the product of talented instructors, passionate volunteers, and generous community partners. We continue to develop this program heading into 2017 and we look forward to working with our community to offer SAAAC students a platform to show their creative skills.
This program would not be possible without three major partners:
Erickumar Emmanuel of Mortgage Alliance R & R Mortgages is our lead program sponsor for SAAAC Creative. Mr. Emmanuel has a decade of experience as a mortgage agent and has a long history of giving back to the community. His year long commitment to developing SAAAC creative is truly inspiring and we thank him for his generosity.
Our program also received an incredible boost from our second program sponsor,University of Ottawa Tamil Students’ Union. This great student group was able to raise $1,000 for SAAAC creative. We thank them for their incredible effort and for helping our arts program become a reality. Due to their efforts, SAAAC will have a structured and quality arts program year round.
Tamil Entertainment Television joined as the third sponsor for SAAAC Creative becoming the Platinum Sponsor for Radiant Night Gala 2016. They specifically wanted to help grow the arts program as they knew the value of the arts for the development of a more vibrant community. We thank TET for not only raising awareness about our arts programming, but autism in general.