Free digital and media arts program for youth ages 11-19

A participant from the Sioux Lookout area came to the program and went on to make an amazing video which was shown in Ottawa as part of a festival

A steady stream of parents and children attended the official launch of the DGTL Digital Creator North program on Saturday.

The project is run by the Near North Mobile Media Lab at the Capitol Center Lower Level for youth ages 11-19.

“Digital Creator is a welcoming place without barriers for young people aged 11 to 19. We focus on media art,” explained Sharon Switzer, program director.

“Kids can come in and learn how to make videos, take photos, do digital art, 3D print. We have a wide range of equipment. Everything is absolutely free to explore and create with while you’re here.”

Including practicing to be a DJ (disc jockey).

“Today we have demonstrations of light art and photography. We have people taking portraits and playing with them in Photoshop to give them their own creative edge. We always have iPads where kids can play,” Switzer added.

“We have been running this program in other cities since 2017 but had to close them for COVID. So it’s currently our only open space, but we have a long history of running these programs,” Switzer said.

“And what we’ve found is that kids gain confidence, they learn to be producers instead of just consumers of media, and they learn skills that allow them to stay in their own town instead of feeling forced to go south to learn and be creative.. So that’s what we’re hoping for and what we’ve seen is actually happening.

Switzer gave as an example the success of a person who did an exceptional job.

“A participant from North Sioux Lookout, we had a program in Sioux Lookout, came to the program during the school year and then made some amazing art videos that were shown in Ottawa at a festival. This person went to college in the arts.

Whenever the program is open, there are two mentors in the space to help. One mentor is proficient in audio and video and the other has digital art skills.

“So digital drawing, painting, graphic design,” Switzer said.

Young people have access to material that they would not have had the opportunity to experience otherwise, which they could perhaps fall back on given the enormous interest that the film industry has in this area.

“The skills we’re introducing them to here will make them absolutely employable. Now we are not a formal education program. Children can come and learn at their own pace, but that’s the first step. And if they’re really excited, they can learn on their own and we can help them learn at any level, but that’s often the first step,” Switzer explained.

“They are excited, they have access to great equipment. They get familiar with the stuff and then they can go on and take it to college.

Given the response, there is a need for a lab like this in northern communities.

“In 2013 we did a review of a cluster of communities, an environmental scan of northern Ontario and there was a huge gap between media arts education for youth and southern Ontario. Ontario,” shared Holly Cunningham of the project she helped launch. .

“So we started developing the program and we didn’t have one in North Bay for the first three years we ran it and now we have it.”

The launch gave everyone the chance to learn and play with the gear, including Araviana Lamothe

“I hope to be able to draw more and create music. I’ve always loved listening to music, so I always wanted to see how I could help produce it. It’s very nice here,” added Lamothe.

Amanda Byers was one of many parents who brought their child to the open house.

“It’s great, my son is able to interact with all the people here who know the industry and the other kids. That’s something I could never provide for him at home,” Byers explained.

Carson Byers Martin was impressed with what he saw and is eager to learn.

“I just want to learn more about videos and photography. It’s cool. I like how you can interact with everyone, if you ask a question most people here will give you the answer. I like it.”

An idea after school, the laboratory space is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday.

The project is funded by both the Canada Council for the Arts through its Digital Strategy Fund and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

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