Youth Art Mentorship Program

Black and white collage of various landmarks from Peterborough, Ontario, over a colourful, black, yellow, magenta, and cyan graffiti background and white dots

Youth Art Mentorship Program

Now in its second year, the Youth Art Mentorship Program (YAM) offers senior high school students the opportunity to work directly with professional mentors in a gallery setting. Successful applicants will develop a new body of work and participate in a paid public art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough along with a group of their peers.

Training in visual arts and creative administration can open doors to a range of professions including careers in animation, industrial design, architecture, and the non-profit sector. This program offers participating youth the chance to develop valuable and transferrable employment skills to better equip them for a career in the arts and other sectors after high school.

To participate in this program, applicants must be:

  • a grade 11 or 12 student enrolled in high school or an alternative education setting
  • between the ages of 16 and 20
  • a resident of the City of Peterborough or Peterborough County with access to transportation to attend in-person programs at the Art Gallery of Peterborough

Please note:

The Art Gallery of Peterborough strives to reflect the whole of our community and encourages applications from all qualified candidates. Submitting an application does not guarantee a place in the program. Previous participants of the program are ineligible to apply.

We are committed to building an inclusive and barrier-free environment for staff, volunteers, artists, visitors, and patrons, and actively work to reflect the diversity of our community. As such, applicants will not be discriminated against for any reason, including but not limited to issues of race, creed, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or class.

Submission Requirements:

Applications must be submitted online through Submittable.
Deadline to apply is January 5, 2023 at 11:59pm. There is no fee to apply.

  1. Portfolio
    • 5-10 images of your artwork.
    • Image list (complete with title, date, medium and dimensions for each work).
  2. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • List of academic and artistic awards/achievements, Education, etc.
  3. Artist Statement and Bio (500 words max)
    • A brief description about yourself and your overall artistic interests and practice.
  4. Letter of Intent (500 words max)
    • A brief written statement explaining your interests, intentions, and personal goals for the program.

Please note: We do not accept emailed or paper submissions. If you are unable to submit your application through the online Submittable platform, please contact the Education Programming Coordinator to make alternate arrangements.


Important Dates:

  • January 5: Deadline for Applications
  • January 6: Jury Deliberation
  • January 10: Results are Announced
  • January 16 – June 2: Youth Art Mentorship Program – A combination of one-on-one and group meetings, as well as open studio sessions (dates TBD)
  • June – October: Youth Art Mentorship Exhibition

Exhibition Opening date to be announced.

About the Artist Mentor:

Caucasian male, bald with glasses, wearing a lime green sweater and arms crossed. He stands in front of a wall with paintings hung in a grid pattern

Spencer J. Harrison in his studio

Spencer J. Harrison (he/him) is an Artist, Activist, and Educator. Spencer has been painting and creating installation-based art for forty years, and his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

As an activist, his focus is on human rights for all who are marginalized, with his greatest focus on youth. For instance, he is the founder of Camp fYrefly, Ontario (a camp for LGBTQ2S&A youth) and has been an Artist-in-Residence with the Toronto District School Board for fifteen years. In this role, Spencer operates an open door, public studio where he has produced many works, including the first painted PhD dissertation in Canada.

Additionally, Spencer has been teaching in the Drawing and Painting department of OCAD University for more than ten years, where he has assessed more than 50,000 portfolios for the admissions to the University.

In conclusion, Spencer believes in the power of art and youth to change the world and is thrilled to be working in this program at the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

About the Other Assessors:

Caucasian female with long brown hair, wearing a black striped shirt and orange sweater, in front of a purple background with yellow, blue, green and orange blobs Fynn Leitch (she/her) has been the Curator at the Art Gallery of Peterborough since 2014. She has an MA in Visual culture and a BAH in Art History from Queen’s University and she is the former Director of Artspace (2011-2014). She has participated extensively in committee work, juries, and conferences regionally and nationally; including, the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO), ARCA National Conference, the Arts Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee for the City of Peterborough and the Electric City Culture Council.



Caucasian female with blonde hair, wearing a black coat and pants, sitting in theatre seating with her feet up.

Kelly Egan (she/her) is an associate professor in Cultural Studies and Media Studies at Trent University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (2001) in Mass Communication from Carleton University, Master of Fine Arts (2006) in Film/Video from Bard College (2006), a Certificate in Film Preservation from the Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman Museum (2012), and a MA (2003) and PhD (2013) in Communication and Culture from the York/Ryerson Joint Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture.

Her award-winning experimental films have exhibited extensively nationally and internationally at festivals/venues including the Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Images Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Cinematheque Quebecois, Pacific Cinematheque, TIFF Lightbox, Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, George Eastman Museum, Anthology, Belvedere 21, Smart Museum of Art, Block Museum of Art, Northwest Film Centre, Antimatter Film Festival, PleasureDome, IMA Institut für Medienarchäologie, Foreman Art Gallery, Struts Gallery Espace Virtuel Factory Media Centre Evans Contemporary, amongst others. She has lived and worked in Peterborough since 2014.

Highlights from the 2022 Youth Art Mentorship Program


Being in the World, works from the Youth Art Mentorship Program exhibition

Peterborough Examiner – “New works by young Peterborough artists on exhibit“

Peterborough Examiner – “Art Gallery of Peterborough launches youth mentorship program”

Portfolio Review Sessions

We are offering free Portfolio Review Sessions to local students. These sessions offer youth the opportunity to present their portfolios to working arts professionals. Portfolio reviews are  a great way to build confidence and encourage youth by gathering a range of opinions and advice through critical feedback, which can help strengthen their work and prepare for applications and entrance interviews to post-secondary studio programs for University and College.

For more information about the program, or to inquire about how you can support youth artists, please contact:

Andrew Ihamaki
Education Programming Coordinator

705-743-9173 ext. 2025

The gallery is OPEN Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am - 5 pm. Admission is always FREE!

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