Vitek Wincza, Artistic Director of the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, recognized through his own experience that arts programs can motivate and inspire learning. His passion to remove barriers for full access to the arts ignited this dream. From this dream, he designed arts programs that would be inclusive regardless of talent, financial status or heritage.
Founded in 1999, in partnership with HCA, CKA has become recognized for its innovative arts programming for children and youth, as well as training and resources for practicing and emerging artists in our community. Beginning as a project-based organization for many years, CKA is now fully operational, dedicating itself year-round to providing arts education everyday, everywhere, and for everyone.
Initial support from Canadian Heritage, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Hamilton Community Foundation funded CKA’s Mentorship Program from 1999 – 2004, which reached 40,000 children with student-led arts demonstrations.
From 2004 – 2007, our CONNECT Project boasted an 85% attendance rate with youth-at-risk engaging in learning through an arts school-to-work program.
To expand the reach of our programs and diversify our audiences CKA maintains ongoing partnerships with child-oriented service organizations, including the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Wesley Urban Ministries, Today’s Family and Mohawk’s City School at the Eva Rothwell Resource Centre. Partnerships with these organizations have brought our programs to Ohsweken on the Six Nations Reserve, and provided access to newcomers, visible minorities and children facing financial barriers. Partnerships with Resight Inclusive Arts and the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre bring innovative arts programming to children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities. Community Partnerships are at the core of CKA’s programs and represent an essential component to the growth and sustainability of our organization.
Two of CKA’s core programs, Artasia and the After School Arts Program are offered in over 15 neighbourhood hubs throughout the Greater Hamilton Area, and provide arts education activities led by practicing artists and arts educators to over 1,000 young people annually.
To expand our reach and encourage a deeper appreciation of the arts in our community, CKA has developed and implemented new modes of arts engagement, training, and delivery that encourage apprenticeship and mentorship learning.
Culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development in Hamilton and our well-balanced approach enhances employment opportunities for those aiming to work in the cultural sector. A multi-year funding grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation supported ArtWorks in 2012, a training program that enhanced career development opportunities for emerging artists. Arts for All, our successive Trillium project, creates professional development support and resources for artist and cross-sector professionals. Our goal is to address gaps in arts education, outreach, and engagement, and strengthen support for arts activities in our community.