who we are


Art Not Shame (ANS) is a Guelph-based, not-for-profit, community-engaged arts organization. We believe in co-creative art-making as a pathway to meaningful conversations about mental health. 

Founded in 2017, we generate opportunities for community connection through facilitated experiences of creative process. With a focus on speaking back to systemic forces that perpetuate cycles of shame and the undermining of self-worth, we seek to shape culture by intentionally building supportive, inclusive, and transformative social spaces. 

Using a variety of visual, literacy and performing arts mediums, including improvised movement, photography, textiles, spoken word and creative writing, ANS’ team of professional artist-facilitators skillfully guide participants through both improvisational and technical approaches to art-making, ultimately stepping away and holding space to support participants to express their own vision and voice. 

To date, we’ve reached over 1800 people in Ontario through workshops and events, engaged nine community partners, and employed seven unique professional artists. We have just begun…


our roots



To Art Not Shame, Michelle Peek brings her 17 years of advocacy work for mental health from the James Peek Memorial Golf Classic in York Region, a golf tournament run by the Peek family and dear friends, and held in memory of her brother James who took his life in November of 1999.

Observing the need for creative and equity-minded approaches to mental-health programming, the James Peek Memorial Golf Classic came to an end, and Art Not Shame was born. To this day, many of our donors and community partners have been with us since that first memorial golf tournament in 2000.

To learn more about our origins, watch this short video by Co-Founder and Executive Director Michelle Peek:

To learn more about the James Peek Memorial Golf Classic, check out the TSN produced documentary "Talk To Me: The Story of James Patrick Peek:"

... art-based community making [is] a form of democratic interaction that enacts the just social relations that social movements often only envision.
— George Lipsitz