MASC Organizational HistoryJennifer and Jan

Jennifer Cayley and Jan Andrews founded MASC in 1989, based on a culturally diverse performance series at the National Library of Canada called The Chance to Give/ Une chance à donner. The series creators, created MASC to bring their passion for diversity in the arts to local schools.  MASC’s work in schools has continued to grow, expanding into community settings and arts festivals. MASC currently has a roster of 55 diverse artists and artist groups (which represents 138 individual artists) across all disciplines.

A number of arts festivals and initiatives have been added to the calendar over the years:

1991 to present:   The annual three-day MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival comes on board. Over 500 budding young writers and artists gather each year to work with established Canadian Children’s authors and illustrators.

1997 to 2014:   Symposium, an annual French-language program, brings over 100 students from Quebec and Ontario together to work with professional artists to create art installations, take part in workshops, and launch an exhibition of art installations in a professional Gallery. 

1999 to present:    MASC Arts Awards is established to honour students who are passionate about the arts, with the goal of offering artistic training and arts mentorship opportunities to youth in financially disadvantaged communities.  

2003 to 2013:   MASC becomes the regional representative for the national ArtsSmarts program, bringing artist residencies and community arts initiatives into schools and local neighbourhoods.   

2005 to 2017:   ARTcy events (professional development opportunities for teachers) are created in partnership with the two local English School Boards.

2008 to present:   A Seniors Program initiative is launched bringing workshops, performances and residencies into a wide variety of seniors’ venues with the support of subsidies. 

2009 to 2013:    A partnership is forged with Youth Services Bureau offering rich artistic mentorship programs to youth at risk.  

2013 to present:   Awesome Arts/Festival Arts en folie comes under the MASC banner. The program explores local issues through the arts with residents of all ages in underserved neighbourhoods culminating in a Festival. Professional artists collaborate with participants to create new work in all artistic disciplines.

2015 to present:   MASC launches Your Story, an annual literary festival for over 100 teens.

2015 to present:   MASC launches Festival de danse en milieu scolaire for over 100 franco-Ontarian youth from across Ontario.

2015 to 2019:   MASC launches Art au Travail, bringing artistic residencies into Outaouais businesses. 

2016:  MASC celebrates its 25th anniversary

2017 to present:  In 2017, MASC was awarded with the International Spotlight award by the United States' National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards for MASC's community engaged arts program Awesome Arts.  MASC partners with Cultural Pluralism for the Arts Movement Ontario and Arts Network Ottawa (formerly AOE) to provide networking and capacity-building programs for new immigrant and refugee artists.

In 2005, after 16 years of operation, the founding Executive Director Jennifer Cayley retired.  Audrey Churgin was hired and managed the organization until her retirement in 2019.  At this time, Micheline Shoebridge and Wendy Hartley assumed the roles of Co-Executive Directors, bringing their considerable wealth of experience to launch MASC into its 30th year.