MONTREAL - When La Ruche d’Art (literally the Art Hive) opened its doors a year and a half ago in a vacant storefront at the northwest corner of St. Henri, it quickly transformed a moribund space into a spot busting out with neighbourhood creativity.

The free community art facility has proven a hit for anybody who wants to create and interact with others in the area.

One participant speaks for many with his glowing description of what the facility offers, not only for allowing the opportunity to meet and collaborate with others, but also for helping advance creativity.

“There’s people on hand teaching how to turn a t-shirt into a rug, or a phone book into a bowl. No matter what your experience in art, there’s always something to learn here,” said participant Stephen Legari.

The facility, launched on a plan dreamed up by Concordia Professor Janis Timm-Bottos, has been constantly abuzz since it flung open its doors, partly because it offers multiple uses for many people, including herself. 

“It’s a place where a lot of parts of myself come together,” said Timm-Bottos. “It’s a professional place where I can meet people, but a place where I can create and be an artist myself.”

The community outreach project promotes social inclusion and aims to engage participants through art, with a special emphasis on reaching out to marginalized individuals.

“Most cultural events happen in middle class neighbourhoods, every neighbourhood should have access to cultural events,” said Timm-Bottos.

“I think it really helps people in the world who really don’t have a place in the world and find a community,” said her daughter Elise Timm-Bottos..

The organizers hope to expand the project elsewhere with help from a $300,000 endowment received from the The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.