Crossing Bridges

The Crossing Bridges Philosophy:

Every person should have an opportunity to access art and creatively express themselves, experience a sense of connectedness and a chance to be a contributing member of their community.

What is Crossing Bridges?

Crossing Bridges is an outreach program started by the Kamloops Arts Council in 2013. This interactive multidisciplinary collaboration among the arts community and social service agencies delivers high-quality arts workshops at no cost to children, youth, families and adults in the Kamloops area.

How does it work?

Artists work alongside staff at local social service agencies to deliver visual arts workshops in a variety of mediums – including painting, photo-transfer, drawing, collage, mirror-etching, woodworking, fibre art and even painting of skateboard decks. Workshops may vary widely in topic, dependent on the needs, ages, and situations of participants at each centre.

Crossing Bridges helps participants express realities, fears, hopes and dreams, providing them with the chance to connect with others, build self-esteem and share their voice with the community. Further, the arts workshops keep individuals returning to the agencies that can link them up to help when they need it.

The project culminates in an annual gallery exhibition that strives to unite all members of the community and celebrate health and wellness through art.

To find out how you can get involved, please contact Lorel Sternig, Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected]. Or fill out one of the following forms; Agency Request Form or Artist Interest Survey.

What are the benefits?

Benefits to participants & the community: The arts have been proven to help build life skills, including self-esteem, self-expression, resiliency, improved mental and emotional health, increased connections, literacy, and even a means of income (two participants from the Women’s Shelter have launched businesses to sell their artwork). We have seen first-hand evidence of this in the success of our program.

Benefits to the arts community: Crossing Bridges employs local artists in a meaningful way, allowing them to share their significant skills while inspiring participants.

Stories & Testimonials:

Crossing Bridges recently provided a workshop series ...

Crossing Bridges recently provided a workshop series to the students of Twin Rivers Education Centre and Four Directions Storefront Schools, where the students were led on an exploration of identity through art. The Crossing Bridges instructor first led students on an exploration of themes and motifs that were meaningful to them. The students then made stencils from these images and learned how to airbrush their images onto lazer-cut wooden feathers (to be mounted on the school fence in celebration of each student’s unique identity and contribution). The teacher of Twin Rivers Education Centre noted that the “most exciting part of this project has been the energy in the room when everyone is working away, the airbrush is up and running, and the students are supporting each other with ideas and tricks and tools. [Our Crossing Bridges instructor] circulates the room teasing out incredible things from what seems like the most basic idea, and the kids are proud of what they are creating.”

From the teacher of Twin Rivers Education Centre ...

“Many of our students have faced significant life challenges that have had a detrimental effect on their education. In many cases their families were part of the Residential School system and have experienced trauma resulting in limited exposure to healthy relationships. Poverty, trauma, and substance abuse continue to be barriers to personal well-being, a healthy understanding of self, personal pride and academic success. Art is a powerful outlet for expressing one’s identity and stretching out of comfort zones. For many of our students it is a particular area of strength and personal pride. Exposure to [our Crossing Bridges Instructor] as a professional artist is very exciting! His approachable demeanour and ability to engage with even reluctant or shy students has made a significant impact. Giving them access and instruction to tools that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to work with is empowering and has fostered a leadership role for a number of students who work closely with [our Crossing Bridges instructor]. Overall they have been able to create a final product that they are very happy with.”

From the Crossing Bridges instructor at Osprey Place ...

From the Crossing Bridges instructor at Osprey Place, a centre that provides substance use treatment for young men and women who are involved in the Youth Justice system in BC: “When one youth began the program, his self esteem was very low. He was convinced that he would ruin everything he touched. He was full of self doubt and really didn’t want to participate because he was so afraid of messing up. Well, he has certainly pushed passed that now. He became very excited about glass etching and every time he finishes a piece I see how proud he is. Those negative beliefs don’t seem to come up in our class anymore and he keeps asking to do more projects with enthusiasm. He recently exclaimed ‘I never liked art…until now.’”

From the director of Osprey Place ...

From the director of Osprey Place, a centre that provides substance use treatment for young men and women who are involved in the Youth Justice system in BC: “The [Crossing Bridges] instructor has great empathy for our young women and has shown them much over the past few weeks. She engages them fully into the projects and offers much of herself in respectful and helpful conversation. The young people have appreciated each session and look forward to it. They produce beautiful items and feel proud of what they do. From one of our youth participants in the Osprey Place substance use treatment program: “I love love love our new art program! The creative expertise is so inspiring and helps get our creativity flowing!”

From our Crossing Bridges Participants:


“Art has saved my life. I have been in and out the shelter through my life but something has happened this time to make it different. I believe it is the art. It made me stop and look at things differently. This time I’m going out on my own and finally I’m getting my muchness back. I’m putting all the art up in my new home and I’m going to continue doing art that way I will keep getting stronger.”


Participants at the YWCA Women’s Shelter were led in a project that had them hollow out old books, giving them a secret compartment in which to store things. One of the children worked through huge feelings of moving out of the house and said, “This is like building our new safe place where we can belong, and we can take this to our new home to remind us of being here.”


A client of Phoenix Centre revealed herself to be a former professional artist, stating that the Crossing Bridges workshops had reignited her passion for creating art. “I stopped making art,” she stated. “That’s how I got lost. I have it back now.”

Telus Optik Local

United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo

How is Crossing Bridges funded?

Crossing Bridges began with initial funding from the Province of BC ~ BC Creative Communities. Please see below for information about our past and current supporters.

We are actively seeking donations to continue the project this year. For more information on how you can get involved in the Crossing Bridges Arts Outreach, please contact Tanya Nielsen, Executive Director at 250-372-7323.

Contact Us Today!

Visit Us

7 Seymour Street West (at 1st)
Kamloops, BC V2C 1E4


Tuesday to Saturday,

10am - 12pm & 1 - 4pm

The Kamloops Arts Council office and KAC Main Gallery are located in the city-owned Old Courthouse Cultural Centre at 7 Seymour Street West. We share this wonderful century-old building with the Courthouse Gallery Cooperative and Theatre BC (Mainstage).

Visit us, our gallery and the rest of the amazing arts groups that are housed under one roof!

Please note: Kamloops Arts Council does not handle bookings for rentals of the Old Courthouse.  For information on rentals, please contact City of Kamloops Arts, Facility Booking, at [email protected] or (250) 828-3707.

KAC is situated on the traditional and unceded lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc within the ne Secwepemcúl’ecw

We acknowledge the financial support of our Core Supporters: The City of Kamloops and BC Arts Council