The National Gallery of Canada has cancelled several art education programs aimed at children, teenagers and seniors in an effort to save money.

The Ottawa-based gallery will no longer operate summer and March break camps for students or offer special tours for seniors. Family Fundays, which offer hands-on workshops, performances, and creative projects for parents and children, have also been shelved.

Marc Mayer, director and CEO of the gallery, told CBC News Monday the programs were being axed to help fund the development of a more comprehensive website and to make improvements within the gallery, such as offering better information next to artwork.

"We can't be all things to all people," he said, "so we've got to make some sacrifices to our local audience in order to serve our national audience — and that really is our mandate."

The program cuts come after the gallery announced in March it was eliminating 27 job positions as part of a major restructuring.

The gallery's revenues took a hit last year when fewer tourists visited, and Mayer said he didn't expect the numbers to bounce back this year.

"That's really where our problems lie," he said in March. "It's the economy."

The gallery said it will keep its popular Artissimo program, which encourages young children ages three and older to create works of art and then display them in a special exhibit.

Tamara Doleman, a visual arts teacher in Ottawa, said she understands the gallery is going through tough financial times but believes that cutting programs for the local community won't help.

"Ultimately the support [for the gallery] comes from the community which lives here, and if we want to build a community of students that know how to look at art and understand culture, we need to make sure that we're addressing the people that live in the neighbourhoods," she said.