Awards, In The News

Toronto’s Lola Rasminsky of Arts for Children and Youth wins National “Local Hero” Award

Media Release – Canadian Urban Institute 
For Immediate Release: May 21, 2009

Toronto, Ontario – Lola Rasminsky’s uncomfortable feeling that only children with the financial resources to afford art classes led her to create free instruction in the arts for 40,000 children in Toronto’s under-served neighbourhoods,. Her efforts have earned her national recognition and the Canadian Urban Institute’s 2009 Local Hero Award to be presented June 5 in Toronto at the Urban Leadership Awards.

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In The News

How art school can mold and shape your child (Excerpt)

One Picasso, Two Picasso, Three Picasso, Four
How art school can mold and shape your child (Excerpt)

By Jane Bedard

Working on a creation from start to finish also fosters self-confidence, believes Liana Del Mastro Vicente, Director of the Avenue Road Art School, also in Toronto. “Making choices encourages self-esteem,” explains Del Mastro Vicente. “As children’s choices are incorporated into the project, they feel a sense of validation…and by adding their own uniqueness, they are discovering that they are unique.”

Avenue Road Art School offers an integrated approach to the arts, incorporating visual arts, drama, and music. Using themes such as ancient civilizations, children study Egypt, for example, by creating a sarcophagus with a mummy inside, using clay and recycled materials. Then they use theme-appropriate instruments to dance and move, freezing when the music stops, to create a statue of a pharoh, mummy, cat, or pyramid with their bodies. This incorporates the ideas of self and spacial awareness. Themes run between one to four classes, each lasting two and a half hours. The more involved the theme, the greater the sense of accomplishment.

In The News

Innovative arts teacher among six female entrepreneurs of the year

Town Crier Online 
January 8, 2007

By Neil Becker

Forest Hill educator Lola Rasminsky was one of six honoured with 2006 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year awards in a Nov. 21 ceremony at the Metro Convention Centre.

Rasminsky received the Bell Trailblazer Award in recognition of more than 25 years of teaching arts to children and adults.

Winners were selected from 150 semifinalists and more than 800 nominees across Canada.

Rasminsky, a former Associated Hebrew School music teacher, began teaching fine arts to six neighborhood kindergarten-age kids in her basement in 1979. Today she teaches music, drama and visual arts through three venues —Avenue Road Arts SchoolArts For Children and Beyond The Box.

“It’s very important to teach topics such as dinosaurs, friendships and outer space, which interest kids,” she said in sharing some of her teaching methods that made it a success among both kids and parents. “The kids get so energized using their imagination, and it’s fun to see their development.”

The road wasn’t all paved with gold for Rasminsky who because of increased enrollment moved from her basement to the Avenue Rd. location in 1993.

“First year the school got broken into twice. There were only about 200 students and we needed 900 to break even.”

But, she says, she “never once thought about throwing in the towel.”

In the Avenue Rd. location, enrolment grew to 1,200 children. Encouraged, she decided to take another step and in 1995 opened Arts for Children of Toronto, bringing the world of arts to some 8,000 inner city kids.

“We reach about 45 inner city schools and it’s a way for them to unleash their artistic potential,” Rasminsky said.

Beyond the Box is a program that teaches business people to think creatively in their day-to-day lives.

Looking back on that special night, Rasminsky, who doesn’t think of herself as an entrepreneur, praised her staff, which is comprised of 20 full time and 20 part time members.

“The staff does a great job in awakening the talent in the school and this award is also for them,” she said. “I was thrilled by all the nominations that I received from across the country.”

Looking toward the future, Rasminsky is just hoping for more space as enrolment once again continues to be in high demand.

In The News, The Globe and Mail

The Queen of Arts

The Globe & Mail 
November 25, 2006

The Queen of Arts
With a successful arts school, a citywide non-profit program and training for execs, Lola Rasminsky inspires kids – and adults – to channel their creativity, VAL ROSS writes

You used to see a lot of Lola Rasminsky in the front hall of the Avenue Road Arts School, chatting in her soft voice with intimidatingly stylish parents as they waited for their little ones to troop out bearing masks and cardboard architectural models. Some parents were friends; some knew her from taking the school’s adult classes; in their professional lives, some attended her corporate workshops.

These days, Ms. Rasminsky spends far more time in places like Portage Trail Middle School, near Jane Street and Weston Road. On a Wednesday morning, Ms. Rasminsky stands in the school’s entryway admiring a mural in progress, as kids, some on scaffolding, daub images on the theme of “peace.” One 12-year-old stops his work to tell her that he loves to draw and wants to design robots. This may be off the topic of peace, but it’s very much in the spirit of Ms. Rasminsky’s philosophy: “I have three endeavours with one message,” she says. “People need to recognize that they’re talented.”

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Avenue Road Arts School, In The News

Familiar ‘toon faces Murals for Sick Kids patients

The Toronto Star 
November 25, 2006

Familiar ‘toon faces
Murals for Sick Kids patients
By Brett Clarkson

Thomas the Tank Engine and his trusty friends will be a welcome, comforting sight to the young patients on the seventh floor of the Hospital for Sick Children, thanks to a dozen art students.

The group of students from the Avenue Road Arts School were busy yesterday painting Thomas, Percy, James, and other characters from the long-running children’s series on the windows in one of the hospital’s 20 playrooms.

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