Workman Arts Scaling Project (2015 – 2021)

Most people living with mental health and addiction issues, experience social isolation because they are often unable to participate fully in the community as a result of the difficulties they experience in their everyday functioning and the discrimination they face. Our Art Training program has successfully been implemented in Toronto for over 20 years and is based on the evidence that participation in arts programming leads to, among else, feelings of belonging to a community, improved relationships with family and friends, and expanded social networks. These intermediate outcomes over time lead to enhanced social connectedness and reduced social isolation in individuals with mental illness and addictions.

In early 2015, as part of our first Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant, Workman Arts implemented a two-year project (Phase 1) to consolidate its body of knowledge and develop a scaling framework that will allow the organization to evolve from a practice-based service provider to an evidence-based leader and change agent.

In support of this endeavor, we developed a Theory of Change and an evaluative SROI analysis to capture the total value created by our Arts and Mental Health & Addiction programs. We have long been aware of the need for strong metrics that provide evidence of the benefits of arts and mental health programs. Developing a program evaluation framework as part of the project helped us demonstrate the impact of our programs and services on our members and community.

The initiative established many ambitious goals, including the implementation of Arts and Mental Health programs in three communities in Ontario. To achieve this, Workman Arts set out to identify communities in need of new or additional arts and mental health programs and to work with organizations interested in collaboration. A community assessment survey sent out to organizations across Ontario received feedback from 153 respondents, the majority of which expressed interest in collaborating with Workman Arts to introduce or strengthen arts and mental health programming in their communities. 70% of the 153 survey respondents reported that their communities lacked art programming for socially isolated individuals with mental illness and addictions.

Phase 1 deliverables:
• Create D-Space Open Knowledge Repository – a fully accessible institutional repository of all WA materials: programming materials, surveys, evaluation results, reports, communication materials and templates, articles, research materials
• Social Return on Investment analysis (SROI)
• Research paper – literary review of scaling and replication in social service organizations
• Program Implementation guides (manual, templates, logic models, practice profiles)
• Identify, select and assess readiness to adopt the program of three Ontario pilot sites

Upon successful completion of Phase 1 of the project, in March 2018, Workman Arts was awarded a second grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) for Phase 2 of the project to replicate our art training program in three Ontario communities – Thunder Bay, North Bay and St. Catharines and help reduce isolation in 450 individuals with mental illness and addictions.

On this project we have partnered and signed Cooperation Agreements with several arts organizations and mental health service providers to replicate our art training program, in three Ontario communities. Our joint vision is to reduce social isolation by bringing meaningful opportunities outside of the mainstream mental health system to socially isolated individuals with mental illness and addictions.

Our project partners are:

In each city, partners will work together to promote the program, refer clients, identify professional artists as instructors and support the implementation and sustainability of the program.

As part of the program, participants will be engaged in group art training courses over a period of three years because participation in art programs leads to reduced isolation, feelings of belonging to a community, improved relationships and expanded social network. A “drop-in” studio will also be available for creating art and peer support. We will organize three presentations (showcases) each year for the program participants to meet others in the community and promote their art to the public.

Workman Arts will support the local partner organizations, three local program coordinators and local artists as they implement the program.

For more information about the project please contact:

Nena Pendevska, Scaling Project Manager

Tel: 416 583 4339 ext 8