Benjamin Howard, 9, created “The Monster Project” in support of the Angel Foundation for learning. He has been drawing monsters since the age of 7. Photo courtesy of Stephen Howard

Art show raises money to help students-in-need through Angel Foundation

  • January 31, 2019

At one Toronto Catholic school, situated in an affluent part of the downtown core, about 13 per cent of its students go to sleep each night surrounded by others struggling to get by in a wealthy city that can often forget its downtrodden.

The students are recently arrived refugees who have been forced into Toronto’s shelter system by circumstances well beyond their control. 

It is these students, and thousands more like them, who benefit from the Curiosities Art Show presented by the Angel Foundation for Learning at the Art Square Gallery Feb. 9 and 10. It’s an annual fundraiser, now in its second year, to raise funds for the foundation that helps Toronto Catholic District School Board students overcome challenges affecting their ability to achieve their best.

“It’s sad in many ways, but it’s why we work harder to get different events going so that we can make some extra money for the foundation,” said Stephan Howard, manager of partnerships, fundraising and special events for the Angel Foundation

Howard said the Curiosities Art Show spreads awareness about the foundation that empowers students to focus on their education. While its two main events — an annual gala dinner and a golf tournament — attract a lot of board staff and parent council people, an art show exposes the foundation to a wider audience. While government grants cover most of the nutrition program costs, the foundation still needs to raise up to $275,000 to fund its other programs.

“This kind of event can (attract) everybody,” from families to students, artists and people with an interest in art, he said.

 Last year’s event was an encouraging start, and raised almost $10,000 despite being held over a weekend when the city experienced some nasty winter weather. 

This year’s event has expanded and will include art work from two professional artists, Liam Murphy and Orshy Mulqueen. Each will donate 50 per cent of proceeds from sales at the show to the foundation. It will also feature a curated collection from emerging student artists of the board, as well as vintage illustrations from renowned Canadian artists, all for sale to the public.

The money raised will go to the foundation’s “Four Wings of Support:” the nutrition program, Guardian Angel Funds, bursaries and awards, and for school allocations to cover costs so students can participate in class trips. The nutrition program ensures almost 60,000 students each day receive a healthy morning meal, while the Guardian Angel Funds provide clothing, glasses and other necessities to students in need. Other funds go to emergency situations, like families of students who live in the St. Jamestown apartment complex that last year was hit by a major fire and recently had flooding issues and a power outage during a severe cold spell.

Howard is pleased the show also gives a lift to aspiring student artists. Likewise, the students are thrilled to take part. 

Janine Lee, 18, is in Grade 12 at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts and will show her acrylic painting A Whimsical Winter Landscape, which portrays the positive side of winter and fits with the theme of much of her work showcasing the “beauty and power of nature as an appreciation for God’s creation,” she said.

“I am excited to be able to use my artwork to support a great cause like the Angel Foundation for Learning because over my high school years I have seen the power of art to create a difference in the world or make an impact in people’s lives,” said Lee. Supporting the Angel Foundation “adds to my belief in the impact that art can have on the world, and it makes me appreciate that I can use my talents for something greater.”

Kelvin Luke is a former TCDSB student now studying at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont. His photography will be part of the show and he’s excited by the opportunity.

“I never take photographs expecting anyone but myself to see and enjoy my work,” said Luke. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” and pleased his work may benefit others.

Howard said the needs of the foundation continue to grow in a city that is increasingly more expensive.

“Our needs are greater and greater because 40 per cent of our students are living below the poverty line,” he said.

It’s a number that continues to grow. Howard said one school has seen a recent influx of nearly 200 Nigerian refugees, on top of students already in need.

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