Diane Finlayson creates new learning centre for art and healing

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“It has been a dream of mine to have an inclusive place for people to come and do some artwork, a place where they can experience new things without the pressures of huge commitments or always having to perform and all of those things we live under,” says Diane Finlayson.

She’s been teaching a variety of classes and workshops – including mindfulness meditation for kids, teens and adults, Reiki certification, pen and ink drawing and watercolour painting – at locations around Huntsville. “I was a bit of a nomad, with my car full of stuff with a bag for everything I teach. It was getting tiring to do that but I was willing to continue.” And then, in the same Manominee Street building where she was already renting a small programming space, she saw a large space for rent and immediately saw its potential.

She and her husband Gord began planning how they could turn the gaping space into a welcoming wellness centre. “Wellness not in clinical terms, but a place where people could come and learn tools that would enhance their life and a place where they could be with other like-minded people, where they could practice those new tools and learn how to incorporate and integrate them into their lives,” says Diane.

I know from having taught for many years that the process of doing art is very therapeutic for certain people as is learning to do mindfulness and to meditate and do yoga. You need to find the tool that fits your life. I can offer some of those tools and now with this new centre a variety of tools can be under one roof. Anyone wanting to find some peace or meaning in their life or try to manage the sea of stress we live in all the time, they can come to this place.

Within the centre’s 3400 square foot space, which Diane hopes will become a community hub, are a dedicated art studio and teaching studio, a training studio for practices like mindfulness meditation or yoga, a larger room for conferences or information sessions, a smaller room for smaller gatherings, and dedicated practitioner rooms for counselling, Reiki, massage, or other practitioners, all available for rent on short-term or long-term, full-time or part-time basis. There’s a lounge area for relaxation and a kitchen, too.

It has also been a goal of Diane’s to offer people who are marginalized the opportunity to take advantage of programming they might not think is available to them. “Eventually we hope to be able to offer subsidies for people who can’t afford the luxury of taking a mindfulness course or just relaxing in an art session.”

The new More Than Just Art centre will have a soft launch during March break for Diane’s ArftulKids camp and the Huntsville Art Society’s March break Art Sampler workshops. It’s official launch will come on March 25, when practitioners, teachers, and facilitators are invited to tour the space.

“We want people to know that this is a community gathering place. We want it to have a revolving door.”

Watch for a new website coming soon at www.morethanjustart.ca. In the meantime, you’ll find information at morethanjustart.name.

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7 Comments

  1. Congratulations to the both of you on accomplishing such a wonderful joint sanctuary where people can find their bliss!!
    Wishing you good luck and much satisfaction for a job just beginning but still well done!!
    Lots of love
    Chris Hunkin

  2. Leanne Witt, North Bay on

    This is very exciting. What a wonderful addition combining two creative options within the art community and wellness community. Such a balanced approach to healthy living. We are often in Huntsville on weekends and will look for events or drop-ins to attend. Leanne Witt, North Bay

  3. This is a wonderful and momentous opportunity to share all of that hard-earned wisdom and training garnered over a lifetime. What a tremendous opportunity for the community. Good luck and best wishes Diane and Gord. We’re rooting for you!

  4. Susan Gammage on

    I really miss T-Zone. Is there any chance you could add a whole body vibration machine and infra-red sauna?

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