To keep a business running through a pandemic is a challenge. We love supporting women in business and spoke with the co-owner of Uptown Yonge CLAP Studios about how they weathered the storm, inspired the community and what’s on the horizon this fall.

Libby RoachTell us about your space, and how you’ve weathered the COVID closures and lockdowns.

Laura Sheu– CLAP Studio is a fun and safe space for everyone to come create, learn and play (which is what CLAP stands for!). Fostering and promoting creativity, celebrating each little and big artist’s individuality, helping to build confidence while having fun along the way is what we strive to do every day. Any project the little or big artists can dream of (as long as it is safe and respectful), our team will guide them to make their dream projects come to life. 

COVID Closures and Lockdowns have really put our creative problem-solving skills to the test. We started implementing COVID protocols at the studio back in March 2020 before the lockdown, from temperature screening to a rigorous sanitizing schedule, to individual art supply kits for each little artist. 

When we got hit with the lockdown, we quickly pivoted to offering our CLAP Packs. CLAP Packs are craft kits thoughtfully designed by our team of instructors, where the little artists are equipped with pre-measured, pre-cut, and pre-taped elements to create their very own STEAM projects virtually via Zoom. This started off as a way to keep our community engaged, and it quickly blossomed into a global venture as we were shipping craft kits all over the world, from Hong Kong, to Spain, to the US. 

The support from our landlord and the community has really helped to keep the business going. 

LR- How did the mural project come about? Who is the artist attached to bringing it to life?

LS- Believe it or not, it has been a dream of mine since a few years ago when we first opened our doors to do something like this. Amidst the pandemic, one of the best news that I received was the support from Uptown BIA to make this mural a reality. 

This mural is a community collaboration, it is done by the community, for the community. The little artists from the CLAP community each contributed a piece of their artwork to the design. 

Then artists and painters Mark Grimmer and Mackenzie Alexander helped bring the design to life by reproducing the art on these big wooden panels, which are now installed on the side of our building’s wall. 

LR- Were there any special considerations or obstacles in getting the mural up?

Reproducing the little artists’ masterpieces on a bigger scale was no easy feat as some of the little artists who participated are as little as 4 years old! Mark and Mackenzie did such an incredible job when they reproduced the artwork on the large wooden panels, keeping the artwork as close to the originals as possible so you can really see and feel the sentiments behind the designs of the little artists. 

LR- What are the contributions about? Were there any surprises or notable entries?

LS– The theme for this mural is gratitude, which is a great way to inject some positivity after such a challenging year for everyone. Each little artist illustrated what they are grateful for in their designs, from their homes to their family, and so much more! 

It was so exciting receiving all the entries from the little artists as we were still in lockdown when the process started. There were some entries that really took me by surprise such as the abstract piece illustrating gratitude for doctors. 

This little artist was in our weekly toddler program when she was last at the studio almost 2 years ago before the pandemic. When she submitted her abstract design, her parent explained that the message behind the artwork was that she is grateful to be able to be with her loved ones and grateful for all the medical professionals who have been working so hard, my heartstrings were pulled immediately. It is such an impactful piece with a meaningful message behind it. I also cannot believe that she is almost 6 years old now! 
This project is just so special and such a great way for the community to come together and brighten up Yonge Street! It is so incredible what we can achieve when we all come together!

Be sure to swing by CLAP Studios art install and support local budding artists! Get all the details on CLAP and their programming here: https://www.clapstudio.ca/

Update: CLAP Studios has been forced to close after a tenant-landlord dispute. We wish Laura all the best of luck and her landlord the absolute worst.