The Dundas Valley School of Art is founded in 1964 by two visionary women, Marion Farnan and Emily Dutton, who recognize the need for professional-level art instruction in the region. The school grows rapidly, and in 1967 DVSA incorporates as a non-profit organization.
By 1970, the school has outgrown its small, rented premises on Melville Street and the board purchases the present building on Ogilvie Street. Built in 1836, the DVSA building has been the former home of a Wesleyan Ladies’ College, Canada Screw Works (later to become Stelco), an aircraft engine plant, and a munitions factory during World War II.
Trevor Hodgson becomes the School’s Director, following on the heels of John Martin who was tragically killed in a car crash in 1965, and Mario Polidori who ran the School from 1971-77. Trevor opens up the Loft as a teaching space, increases the number of classes on offer, brings in international artists for workshops and masterclasses, and significantly grows the School’s Annual Art Auction. The School adds a full-time program and an alumni association.
Arthur Greenblatt joins the School as Executive Director, arriving from the Alberta College of Art and Design. The facility receives a number of needed repairs and improvements. With Arthur comes an additional expansion of the registered programs, as well as the much beloved Estate Sale, appraisal days, and birthday parties.
Working in partnership with the Carnegie Gallery and Dundas Museum & Archives, DVSA secures Infrastructure Stimulus Funding to significantly upgrade the School facility. Arthur leads the efforts to find multiple sites from which the School can continue operating during the construction closure.
With renovations complete, DVSA reopens to significant acclaim, now offering approximately 27,000 square feet of studio space, an extensive library, community art gallery, technology lab, refurbished entry, and a large loft space with beamed ceiling suitable for large events and performances. The School is now fully accessible with an elevator to all floors.
DVSA celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a series of special events, including a Chicken Dinner (with a Side Order of Art), an Open House held to commemorate the School’s first art class, and a number of “Pop-Up” events featuring artists in the community. At the age of 103, Marion Farnan delights all by attending both the dinner and the Open House featuring 5 generations of the Farnan Family. Arthur Greenblatt retires as Executive Director. Claire Loughheed, previously an instructor at the School, returns to become the new Executive Director.
Over the decades, DVSA has never wavered from its mission to provide high quality, accessible and affordable visual arts education that encourages excellence and personal fulfillment for children, adults and those pursuing a career in the visual arts.