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Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Off the Wall offers three types of financial assistance to help deserving students access our programs.


  • The Desmond Heeley Scholarship celebrates the legacy of designer Desmond Heeley by supporting the studies of a creative student with high potential.

  • The Stipend for a Summer Blogger goes to a student who will help enhance Off the Wall’s social media presence through regular posts about their experience during the program.

  • Student Bursaries support the studies of students who would not otherwise be able to afford the program.

Desmond Heeley (Photo by Irene Millar)

Photo by Irene Miller

Who was Desmond Heeley?

One of the greatest set and costume designers of the 20th century, Desmond Heeley (June 1, 1930 – June 10, 2016) is the inspiration behind Off the Wall. He was a teacher, mentor and friend of many of our artist instructors, who share his joy of working in the theatre. A three-time Tony award winner, Desmond worked in England and New York but he considered Stratford his true home. Besides being a brilliant, inventive designer, he had an abiding commitment to share his craft with future generations of artists. At Off the Wall, we are inspired by his generosity towards others and his passion for theatre production arts.

Here’s a table summarizing the three types of financial assistance.

The 2017 application window is now closed.

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Who can apply for financial assistance?

Anyone enrolled in the Theatre Production Arts program can apply for financial assistance. As well, students registered in a one-week summer courses or a fall workshop spanning two weekends can apply for the Desmond Heeley Scholarship. To register in any Off the Wall course or workshop, students must be at least 16 years of age.

Are there any other requirements?

Receiving financial assistance does come with the expectation of supporting the promotion of Off the Wall courses. This could take the form of participating in media interviews, contributing to our social media sites and speaking at our Open House or Annual General Meeting.

Can I apply for more than one type of assistance?

Yes. You can apply for as many of our three types of financial assistance as you are eligible for. Your application will be judged on its own merits in each category, understanding that Off the Wall wants to help as many students as possible to be able to take advantage of our courses.

I want to take Setting the Scene. Can I apply for the Desmond Heeley Scholarship?

Setting the Scene is a highly affordable course thanks to an arts education grant from the Ontario Arts Council. As a result, students in the course are not eligible for other forms of financial assistance.

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Amount of Assistance
Amount of Assistance
How much financial assistance is available?

The scholarship, stipend and bursary can each be up to a maximum of $500 to be applied to the course fee.

If I am successful, do I automatically get the maximum amount?

The size of your award is determined by the selection committee. Several factors enter the decision, such as how much money is available for financial assistance in any given year and the calibre of the applicants. In the case of the Desmond Heeley Scholarship, the amount of the award cannot exceed the course fee for the course you are registered in.

How many awards are there each year?

Off the Wall raises funds each year to make financial assistance available to students. The amount of funding varies from year to year. As a result, the number and dollar value of awards offered in each category, if any, may vary.

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When can I apply?

The application window for financial assistance opens in March. Applications, including all necessary supporting material, must be received by our registrar no later than June 1.

When will I know if I am going to get the assistance?

All applicants, whether successful or not, will be advised of the results by June 15.

How do I apply?

When the application window opens in March, you will be able to download and fill out the application form. You will be asked to email the completed form, along with any attachments to our registrar.

What information do I need to submit?

For any of the three types of assistance, you will need to submit basic contact information (name, address, phone, email) and a brief rationale of why you think you should be the recipient. You will also be asked to have a letter of recommendation submitted directly to our registrar by someone who can support your application. That could be a teacher, employer or volunteer organization you have worked with or someone similar. Please note that we may contact the person who wrote the letter of recommendation to find out more about you or we may ask you to supply an additional name of someone we can contact


For the Desmond Heeley Scholarship, you will also be asked to send us three images of your work (either in theatre arts or a related area like visual arts) as well as a brief explanation of your creative process for each. The explanation can be written or it can be in another form, like a brief video or a slide presentation. Desmond Heeley was an inventive man who frequently used unexpected methods to create amazing results. So please feel free to impress us with your creativity!


For the Stipend for a Summer Blogger, you will be asked to submit two sample postings such as actual blogs, video logs or posts you have done in the past OR examples of the type that you would do.

I’m an artist, not a writer. Do I have to fill in a lot of paperwork?

We do need some basic information about you but beyond that, we encourage you to apply your creativity to tell us why you are a deserving recipient, in a way that employs your artistic ability. After all, we are a bit Off the Wall ourselves!

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How do you decide who will get financial assistance?

A selection committee, composed of Off the Wall Board members and artist instructors, reviews and evaluates the applications to determine the award recipients, using these criteria:

  • For the Desmond Heeley Scholarship, the award is based on potential to become a backstage theatre artist.

  • For the Stipend for a Summer Student Blogger, the award is based on the ability to do regular postings that convey a positive impression of how much fun it is to be an Off the Wall student.

  • For Student Bursaries, the award is based on demonstrated ability and financial need.

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Expectations of Summer Student Blogger
Expectations of Summer Student Blogger
I’m interested in the stipend you offer for blogging about the program. How much work is involved?

We ask that student blogger do two postings each week during the five-week program. These could be a written blog (200 to 500 words — that is between half a page and a page of text) with a few photos or a short video. We would also consider more frequent, shorter postings as well. Please note that postings will be reviewed before they are uploaded to Off the Wall social media sites.

What would you consider a good blog?

We are looking for things that are targeted to potential Off the Wall students, people like you. We want to give them a sense of what it is like to be in an Off the Wall classroom, who you are working with and what you are learning. We would love if you used photos or video to help convey what the experience is like since we all know a picture is worth a thousand words! Overall, we know (and past student evaluations confirm this) that you are going to have a great time at Off the Wall. We want you to tell others!

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Accommodations and Other Expenses
Accommodations and Other Expenses
I am from outside Stratford and will need to find accommodation during the course. Is there financial assistance available to help cover the cost?

Off the Wall does not provide financial assistance for accommodation and other expenses you incur during the course. However, we are aware of lower-cost accommodation options and, on occasion, have even been able to arrange billeting in private homes. Please contact our program advisor, Susan Starkweather, at, for more information.

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