Our Story



Founding Director, Lola Rasminsky offers art classes to preschool children in the basement of her Forest Hill home.

Enrollment commenced with 6 students and grew to 100 within a few years


The Avenue Road Arts School is born and opens its doors in the Victorian home, situated on Avenue Road (its current location). The location is synonymous with the arts as it was an offshoot location for the Royal Conservatory of Music.

200 students, primarily children, walk through the doors that year.


Adult programs in both the performing and visual arts are well established and kids and adults all create harmoniously under one roof. The first of many large-scale exhibits celebrating the art of children, entitled Journey to Paradise, is mounted at the School.


The charitable arm of the School is established as Arts for Children. The charity serves more than 7,000 children a year, who would otherwise not have access to high-quality arts programs because of financial restraints. Children benefit through scholarship and outreach programs.


The School begins to mount major exhibitions of children’s work in public venues such as Harbourfront, the CBC building, the Bata Shoe Museum and BCE Place. A massive multi-media art exhibit is installed on all four floors of the school building. A Journey Through Time, curated by Liana Del Mastro Vicente, Director of the Arts School, later is installed in the Metro Hall rotunda.


Lola Rasminsky launches Beyond the Box TM, a program which introduces corporate groups to artists’ strategies for creative thinking and problem solving.


The Arts School establishes a popular summer camp in the Muskokas and launches www.avenueroadartsschool.com. The website attracts students from Greece, Turkey, Japan, the UK and the US.


Walking in the Shoes of the Masters, an art exhibit curated by Faculty member Julie Frost is installed at BCE Place in Toronto.


The Ontario College of Teachers makes the Arts School an official provider of Professional Learning Programs, allowing teachers to get credit for certain courses taken at the School. The Arts School hosts professional development workshops for teachers in integrating the arts into elementary school curricula.


The 10th anniversary celebration is held at The Academy of Spherical Arts with renowned artists and celebrities attending including Andy Barrie, Susan Coyne, David Cronenberg, Sorel Etrog, Erica Ehm, Sharon Hampson, Charles Pachter, Bob Rae, Michael Snow and Margaret Wente.

Kids Can Press commissions the Arts School to create The Jumbo Book of Art, sold in bookstores across North America. This book garners several awards, including the Best Hands-on Book 2003 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) for Children’s Resources, the Gold Award Winner 2003 Best Bets, Ontario Library Association and the Disney Adventures Book Award (2004).


The Arts School joins forces with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to offer arts programming during the intermission of family oriented performances, a tradition that continues to this day.


Theatre company programs, in both drama and musical theatre, are established by Liana Del Mastro Vicente, Director of the School. Children and teens perform original and established plays and musicals in professional theatre venues such as Al Green Theatre and the George Ignatieff Theatre.


The Arts School is a recognized leader in Arts Education and Lola receives the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Bell Trailblazer Category.

Kids Can Press commissions the Arts School to create a second book, The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art, also sold in bookstores across North America  


Recognized for all her contributions to Arts Education in Canada, Founding Director, Lola Rasminsky is awarded the Order of Canada.

The Arts Access Fund (formerly The Arts Scholarship Fund) is established to offer scholarships to children who could not attend the Arts School’s high quality programs due to financial constraints.


Now an important staple in the Toronto arts community, Arts School Founding Director is honoured with the Canadian Urban Institute, as a Local Hero.

Recognized as an arts school for both beginners and advanced students, the Avenue Road Arts School installs its first adult student art show, curated by Kristina D’Angelo, at The Women’s Art Association in the Annex.


The Arts School establishes a working relationship with Spazio dell’Arte Gallery and, curated by Kristina D’Angelo, advanced students exhibit and sell their work alongside the work of ARAS faculty members every spring.


The Arts School holds its 20th anniversary celebration on February 23rd, 2014 at The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library.


This year, we are celebrating 25 years of excellence in arts education! To commemorate this milestone, we interviewed 25 of our former and current students, and heard about the ways in which our School impacted their lives and creative journeys.