The Arts Access Fund is a registered charitable organization established in 2008 in order to open important doors to children and youth who have the interest, but not the means, to develop their artistic talent. Scholarships are offered in visual art, drama, music, dance and film making.

The young people supported by this fund are not only developing their natural creative abilities, they are also learning the life skills associated with seriously pursuing one of the arts. They are learning about passion, commitment, persistence, listening well and most of all – being accountable. There are so many positive outcomes of being well trained in an art form.  Students gain the ability to take initiative. They learn to recognize their own unique gifts. And they come to make a habit of striving for excellence.

A large proportion of our scholarship students are from families who immigrated to Canada within the last few years. Most scholarship students are referred by social service organizations and by inner city schools who know of students who would not be in a position to take advantage of arts training because of limited financial resources.  For some of these students, finding kindred spirits in an art class, and being encouraged by a caring teacher, has been hugely helpful in their integration into a new and foreign culture.

Whether or not they pursue art as a vocation, the experience of art-making under the guidance of inspiring teachers, gives these young people many valuable resources with which to move forward in their lives.



The Arts Access Fund is a charitable organization dedicated to providing high quality arts experiences to young people, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue artistic excellence under the guidance of professional artists.




Lola Rasminsky founded the Avenue Road Arts School in 1993 and in 1995 established Arts for Children and Youth as a charitable organization, committed to unleashing the creative potential of children and youth each year in Toronto’s underserved communities, In 1998 she founded Beyond the Box™, a corporate training program promoting imaginative thinking in the world of work.

In 2006, Lola received the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Bell Trailblazer category. In 2007 she was awarded the Order of Canada for her pioneering work in the field of Arts Education. In 2008, Arts for Children and Youth became the first recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award in the Arts for Youth category, and in 2010 she was recognized as a Local Hero by the Canadian Urban Institute.

Lola currently sits on the Board of the Toronto Community Foundation.


Executive Director

Ritu Bhardwaj is an engaged Torontonian who loves living in the Beach. Earlier in her career she was the founder of a design and manufacturing company, taking concepts from creation, to development overseas and then importing to the Canadian retail market. Prior to joining The Arts Access Fund, Ritu worked with a Toronto design collective specializing in experiential marketing. Ritu is also currently the Publisher of Yonge Street, a weekly online magazine focusing on innovation, growth and investment in Toronto. Ritu is an active community volunteer who also enjoys sharing her passion for sailing, nordic skiing and traveling – with her family.



Nancy McCain. Following the completion of her MA in Arts Administration at New York University, Nancy McCain worked at Sotheby’s in Toronto, London and New York, and then at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is currently a member of the Board of Governors at Acadia University and a director of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, where she is past President. She is also a director of The Sick Kids Hospital Foundation and Soulpepper Theatre. Her previous roles include Chair at Canadian Art Foundation, and a member of the board of Arts for Children of Toronto and AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation).


Board of Directors

(in alphabetical order)
Eleanor Boynton
Steven Campbell
Donna Chateau, Treasurer
David Delaney
Liana Del Mastro Vicente, Secretary
Dr. Mary Elliott
Tamara Karney
Nancy McCain, Chair
Michina Pope
Fatih Stanley
Mary Dawn Thomson


Board of Advisors

(in alphabetical order)
David Cronenberg, CM
Peter Herrndorf, OC
Paul Hoffert, CM
Richard Lewis
Popsy Johnstone
Deborah Lundmark
David Mirvish, CM
Charles Pachter, OC
Lola Rasminsky, CM (Founder)
Albert Schultz, CM
Peter Simon
Michael Snow, OC

Back to Top