The Creative Lab

Sun Park Phoenix

The Creative Lab was a 3-day Arts Enrichment and Personal Development program created and delivered for high school students. Everyone who participated identified as artists in the mediums of poetry, visual art, or dance, and wished to make meaningful contributions within and outside of the program.

The Creative Lab took place at York University, in Toronto, Canada. It intentionally drew students from a range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, to provide them with an opportunity to develop their artistic skills while delving into deep conversations about social justice, and their true purpose through arts-engaged activities.

Within the program, students also had the opportunity to gain mentorship from professional artists and senior-level university students, while exploring ideas around potential career paths in the arts.

We offered three different artistic mediums for the students to select as their primary stream of focus through the duration of their time at The Creative Lab: Spoken Word Poetry, Dance, and Visual Art (print-making). Students were also organized into “pods” during big group activities, where they were able to inter-mix with students from other artistic streams and work more closely with their mentors. 

During these large group sessions, students were engaged in discussions around social issues, and challenged to dig deeper into their sense of purpose to identify what mattered to them most. 

We centered these discussions around the 4 pillars of Purpose Rooted Arts Education: 

  1. Identity & Authenticity
  2. Equity & Inclusion
  3. Healing & Well-Being
  4. Creativity & Technique

Students were so deeply impacted by the program that we decided to continue with reunion gatherings after the program ended, in response to the students’ requests that we create more opportunities for them to gather together again.

The Creative Lab was presented by Voice of Purpose in partnership with York University Community Engagement Centre, North York Arts, and Nia Centre for the Arts, and was funded by the Ontario Arts Council.


[Video credit: Potential Films Inc.]