MASC Organizational HistoryJennifer and Jan

MASC began in 1987 by co-Founders Jan Andrews and Jennifer Cayley, as The Chance to Give/ Une chance à donner, as a one-time, month-long series of workshops and performances for students from the National Capital region schools, to complement an exhibition at the National Library of Canada, under the sponsorship of Secretary of State. The program was repeated in 1988 as a joint venture of local school boards out of a conviction that it had an important contribution to make. Response to this series indicated that a registered non-profit organization should be created to function on a year-round basis. A Board of directors was established and the coordinators who had been with the organization in a job sharing capacity since its inception were officially hired.  Full-scale operation began with the opening of the 1989/90 academic year. A roster of six local artists was available on a continuing basis and tours of five out-of-town artists arranged. Funding to provide administrative stability and assistance with programming was received from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, the Ontario Arts Council and Secretary of State.
MASC’s work in schools has continued to grow, and while the focus has always been on schools, work has also been found for artists in other community settings. 1990/91 brought further outreach into those areas along with a major initiative, funded by Secretary of State, into educational systems in outlying areas of Eastern Ontario.
After two successful years, the name of the organization was changed to: Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities: MASC.  A number of important events were added to the calendar.  1991 marked the first highly successful Young Authors and Illustrators Conference (now Festival), which bring keen young authors and illustrators together with well established Canadian Children’s writers for hands-on writing workshops. The first Visual Arts Symposium for Francophone students took place in 1997, and the MASC Arts Awards were launched in 1999.  In 2003 MASC became the region’s ArtsSmarts partner joining a national arts integration initiative until it ended in 2013.
Student contacts have gone from 14,000 in the first year, to over 122,000 in 2016-2017.  The number of artists on the roster has increased from 11 to 63, currently. Both government and private sector support have been critical to the organization’s success, with public support growing dramatically over the last five years.
After 18 years of operation, the founding Executive/Artistic Director retired, and a new Executive/Artistic Director was installed in 2005. During 2008, MASC expanded again, successfully launching a new Seniors Program.  In 2009, a partnership was created with the Youth Services Bureau serving street-involved youth, and new events, such as LiterARTcy were created. 
During 2013, Awesome Arts moved under the MASC banner.  The Awesome Arts Program and Festival is a community-specific, multifaceted, long-term neighbourhood program that explores local issues through the arts.  Since 2015, MASC has also launched ‘Your Story’, a teen version of the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference (now Festival), a weekend-long Festival de danse en milieu scolaire for franco-Ontarian youth, and Art au Travail, bringing artistic residencies into Outaouais businesses.  In 2017, MASC was awarded an International Spotlight Award from the United States for its Awesome Arts Programming, bringing this important work to attention broadly across the region.