Enterprising Women Making Art

Click here for our Monthly Workshop Calendar

EWMA was launched in 2003 as a development initiative of Atira Women's Resource Society. It has focused on supporting women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to work together to develop an alternative form of business or employment that is grounded in their needs and realities.

The program is a self employment initiative for women impacted by violence who face significant barriers to traditional employment and who seek safe, income-generating opportunities free from exploitation, abuse or other vulnerabilities.

Blending art, community and social entrepreneurship, EWMA works with emerging women artists and artisans in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to participate in a democratic and equitable social enterprise that coordinates the pooling of resources to produce and market women's visual art and handmade products, as well as focuses on building women’s capacities and knowledge, and increasing their access to lucrative markets and sales.

This project will strengthen and foster women’s full and equal participation in the community and economy. EWMA is a community-based initiative that works with and celebrates the talents of its participants, contributes to their community, and supports their personal and economic empowerment.


Who will benefit from EWMA Program?

The program is inclusive of all women in Vancouver's downtown eastside who have been affected by violence (including aboriginal, immigrant, visible minorities, senior women and women with physical or mental disabilities) and operates from a harm reduction, low threshold, and anti-oppressive framework with the goal to offer immediate income-generating alternatives.


Our current group: EWMA Enterprising Women Making Art

EWMA participants are active in the design, planning, marketing and production of their products. The handmade products are: Semi Precious Jewelry; Hand Knit Garments; Cards/ Paper Arts; Ceramics; Fine Arts Photography; Textiles.

Our goals are:

  • Empower the artisans, their local production and help to create a fair connection between producer and consumer.
  • Improve socio-economic conditions;
  • Promote recognition of the strengths and capacities of the DTES low income community;
  • Promote community cohesion by creating opportunities for diverse groups to work together;
  • Increase individual self-sufficiency.


2012 EWMA Mosiac Project: Telling Herstories of Food in the DTES Workshop

More than 26 women participant in different stages of the mosaic project, Telling Herstories of Food in the DTES Workshop was hosted at the Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA) studio and was open to women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the community at large as part of the 2012 Heart of the City Festival and continued until early 2013. Other workshops were hosted for residents at Imouto Housing for Young Women and Sorella Housing for Women. These series of workshops resulted in the design, including wording on the mosaic, and the completion of two, 3ft x 3ft mosaic panels. The youngest project participant was 12 years old bringing together a diversity of women to celebrate and explore herstories and perspectives on food!

Special thanks to the lead artist, Ann Thorsteinsson, who translated all the workshop ideas into a cohesive design that honored everyone’s contributions, and to the funders, The City of Vancouver, Vancity Savings Credit Union, and the Vancouver Moving Theatre. Special thanks too to EWMA program coordinator Jessica Numminen for pulling it all together.


For more information on the EWMA program, please contact:

Program Coordinator
800 E Hastings
Vancouver, V6A 1R6

Tel: 604 685 8043
Email: EWMA [at] atira.bc.ca

EWMA Studio Opening Hours - Monday-Sunday, 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM

EWMA Store Opening Hours - Monday- Sunday, 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM