On Monday, February 3rd 2020, I visited the Seniors/ Intergenerational Yellow Door Art Hive at the Galeries du Parc shopping mall, in partnership wih Association Récréative Milton-Parc. This Art Hive, located in the southwest corner of the Plateau Mont-Royal Borough, also known as the McGill Ghetto, is open on Mondays from 2 to 6 pm, at 3590 Jeanne-Mance street. During my visit, I chatted with Rocio, Mariam, Linda and Amritha.
What motivated you to start this art hive?
This group was started about seven years ago as an art class for seniors. The Galeries du Parc location was picked because our main space at the Yellow Door is not accessible and it was important for us to outreach to our senior community members in an accessible space. After discovering the Art Hives model through students volunteering at the Yellow Door, we decided to turn our seniors group at GDP into an art hive last year, to encourage autonomy and free expression amongst our participants, and make it a more intergenerational space.
What is one thing that is working really well in your art hive?
The sense of camaraderie and community between the participants. Participants have a strong sense of belonging, many come every week and are very happy to see each other again. The exchanges are lively and vibrant.
What is one thing that is challenging?
Transitioning from a class format to an art hive: some participants still expect it to be a service model, to be taught art skill. It's a process to foster participants' autonomy in the space, and to feel comfortable as facilitators not having prepared something to teach.
What are some of your hopes for the near future?
We want the space to be more intergenerational and connected to the neighbourhood. We want the art hive to be more permanent in the space (it's a shared space), such as having the art supplies out so that they are more visible and accessible. We have started taking roots already by putting our artwork on the wall. We will continue this by adding more work stations, shelves for supplies, and additional work stations. We also hope to become better equipped with resources to deal with diffcult situations in the space, such as mental health emergencies.
What is the effect that you see you art hive having on the lives of participants and facilitators?
It is really good for our mental health! It's a space to relax, lower stress and anxiety, put our worries aside. Research says that making art is good for mental health, and we see that happen here. It's also a space where we can have a lot of pleasure through making, sharing, talking and laughing with each other.
What makes your Art Hive unique?
I think our Art Hive is unique because of our volunteers and the intergenerational approach, which creates a lovely learning and sharing environment.
What does being a part of the Art Hives Network means to you?
Being part of the network means building a larger community, creates a sense of belonging. This means not being alone in our goals, sharing experiences, being in a permanent learning process, multiplying the resources and the intentions; and extending our physical and creative limits.
Note about our Art Hive:
Our Art Hive is part of Milton-Parc Wellness Group. Our program aims to promote wellbeing, physical activity, break isolation and prevent depression. We work in the area of Milton-Parc, which is characterized by the convergence of young students from all places and the elderly. Our groups are intended to create spaces where these 2 groups can connect by having common interests despite the age difference. In this way, we build a bridge between generations and create a supportive and closer community. We form and empower volunteers as an essential part of the process. Our senior members get to know them and continue attending because of the connections they create.