Marie Moliner is a lawyer, potter, daughter of immigrant parents, and the former Regional Director General for Canadian Heritage. She discovered SKETCH 17 years ago when she walked into our old homey space on King St. West and was mesmerized by the work and creativity. Recently she raised $7000 for SKETCH at her retirement party. Here, Marie explains how she’d like to spend the next season of her life advocating for the arts, and how pottery saved her mental health.
A public-policy purpose for the arts was my real agenda when I took the role of Regional Director General for Canadian Heritage seventeen years ago.
I had come from the social-justice sector and was trying to bridge that social-justice community-building capacity work with the arts sector–it was difficult back then to find anyone who even understood what that meant. Then I met Phyllis at a conference when we had the multiculturalism program running. Phyllis spoke about SKETCH, and it was there that I knew, “this is what I want to fund!”
At Heritage we tried to partner with SKETCH, but we could never seem to get it to fit. This is what led me to host a fundraiser for SKETCH at my retirement party. It was my way of re-imaging the conversation I’d been having for years at Heritage.
SKETCH Executive Director Rudy Ruttimann with Marie Moliner at her retirement party.
I believe artists make shit happen and I’m all about making shit happen! I think that we undervalue the role that artists play; everyone has a creative core, but it tends to be branded with the arts when it should be seen as all pervasive. Creativity is the first lens we should look through when problem solving.
My medium for creative expression is clay. I’ve been working with sculpture since I was seventeen. The whole process of pounding and shaping clay is hugely therapeutic and what I realize now, forty odd years later, has saved my mental health. I mean, anyone who has an artistic practice knows what happens to them when they don’t use it.
SKETCH Artistic Director Phyllis Novak on stage at Marie’s event.
I struggle to find words for how art has impacted my life because I’ve been a walking, talking ambassador for the arts, so the transformation has really been the gift that the arts have given me to keep growing personally.
I grew up in a family that valued the arts. My parents were immigrants, my mother met Picasso, my father was jealous… There was a continuous conversation at the dinner table–they loved music, they loved ideas, they respected the arts. So I came in knowing that the arts are important.
Marie drops by to chat at SKETCH
SKETCH is the perfect example of providing inclusive arts programming to youth who are on that continuum of complex issues like poverty, homelessness, and inequality. You take the root causes that lead to oppression and then develop the needed programs, which lead to confidence, self-esteem, and skills. SKETCH for me is an answer to one of this generation’s most complex urban issues: supporting under-housed and un-housed youth, living on the margins. SKETCH is a place that helps young people re-find their way in the world. The arts is what I’m passionate about and I believe it has the power to save lives.