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Provincial cut leaves Saskatoon art skills program without funding

A program that uses art to provide opportunities for marginalized people in Saskatoon is in trouble after the provincial government cut its funding.

Participants of SCYAP's Urban Canvas Project have completed 12 public murals in Saskatoon

A group of participants from the SCYAP Urban Canvas Project, which uses art as a jumping-off point to teach marginalized people life and employment skills. (Submitted by SCYAP)

A program that uses art to provide opportunities for marginalized people in Saskatoon needs help after the provincial government cut its funding.

SCYAP's Urban Canvas Project is a full-time, 39-week program that uses art as a jumping-off point to provide at-risk or marginalized people aged 16 to 30 with training in life and employment skills.

"We provide an environment through the arts that's comfortable, safe, where they feel they can open up and break down some of those barriers," said Clay Shaw, an operations manager with SCYAP.

Murals like this one are the final project for students in the SCYAP Urban Canvas Project in Saskatoon. (Submitted by SCYAP)

Students receive the equivalent of an introductory university arts program alongside personal development such as communication and resumé building. 

"The goal, by the time they end the program, is to get these individuals who come to us, that are not employed and not in school, back to an employment or school opportunity," Shaw said.

One of the murals painted in Saskatoon by participants in the SCYAP Urban Canvas Project. (Submitted by SCYAP)

Each 39-week cycle culminates in a mural project. So far 12 of these murals have been painted throughout Saskatoon at places like St. Paul's Hospital, the Calder Centre and White Buffalo Youth Lodge.

The project was funded by the provincial Ministry of the Economy. Shaw said SCYAP was informed at the end of the program's last cycle that funding had been cut. SCYAP's core provincial funding, which Shaw said "helps pay for our rent," is still in place. 

One of the participants in the SCYAP Urban Canvas Project paints a mural in Saskatoon. (Submitted by SCYAP)

SCYAP is now looking for another funding source for the Urban Canvas Project. 

"We're going to re-apply through [the provincial government] and other places, because we feel serving these at-risk youth or marginalized people before they get to a place where they're in trouble in their lives, we feel it's very necessary," Shaw said.

SCYAP is looking for a new funding source for its Urban Canvas Project. (Submitted by SCYAP)

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning