From these humble beginnings, the Stouffville artistic community began to take notice. In 2002, after several enthusiastic meetings, a name, logo and brochure was created and the Annual Whitchurch-Stouffville Studio Tour and Sale was born.
That year, seven potters and nine painters expanded their exhibition in the former municipal office to include the old Town Council chambers. The local business community purchased advertising space to support signage and promotional material and the local press began their unfaltering, and on-going support.
It was during the Studio Tour's third year that it began to live up to its name; a 'true' studio tour format was agreed upon as the artists committed to opening their homes for the weekend event. In 2003 the Latcham Gallery, the local public gallery, was added as a venue, bringing the number of locations to seven. It was this year that the tour cemented the weekend after Thanksgiving as its annual weekend.
With even more artists interested in participating in the Studio Tour, in 2004 an Executive Committee was established to facilitate administration of the tour and liaise with the growing number of artists. A jurying process was also created in order to maintain the established standard of artistic skill for all new members to the Studio Tour. In 2004, it was also agreed that, in order to stay true to the local artist community, expansion of the tour would not go beyond the boundaries of Whitchurch-Stouffville, however resident artists could invite guest artists from further afield.
The sixth annual tour was a pivotal year; as the local news reported, the Studio Tour had "come of age." For the first time a colourful banner was hung across Main Street, Stouffville, adding the Studio Tour presence to the ongoing roster of community events advertised in this way. A free draw for a $200 certificate toward the purchase of art from the Studio Tour was introduced, and a full colour brochure drew more than two hundred people to each of the twenty venues. In the sixth year For the Love of Jo coffee house became a Studio Tour partner, not only displaying the artwork of the Studio Tour members during the month of September as a preview for the tour, but also establishing Studio Tour member solo exhibitions throughout the year. The partnership with For the Love of Jo continues to this day.
Beginning in 2008, the Studio Tour established its online presence. First with a blog and then Twitter, the Studio Tour has added Facebook and Instagram to its online repertoire. The ability to connect with the public throughout the year has proven an invaluable way to maintain the Studio Tour mandate of providing access to the visual arts in an open environment.
The Studio Tour prides itself on bringing together an eclectic group of artists who work in a variety of media and possess many awards and accolades between them. Among the Studio Tour members have been an internationally recognized sculptor, an award-winning nature photographer, a nationally recognized Sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) artist, a Pastel Artists of Canada Master Pastellist, members of the Ontario Society of Artists, trained graphic designers, trained art teachers recognized by the Ontario College of Teachers and graduates of the Ontario College of Art and Design.
Studio Tour artists work in a wide range of media from acrylic, oil, and watercolour paint to metallurgy, fused glass, wood carving, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and pottery. The artists continue to enter and gain acceptance into prestigious art shows and galleries including the Colour and Form Society Annual Juried Show, the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour Annual Open Juried Show, The Latcham Gallery Annual Juried Show, the Varley Gallery, the John B. Aird Gallery, and many more.
The mandate of the tour has always been and remains to provide access to visual art in an open environment, where it is created, in order for the public to get to know the artists working in their community. The artists of the Studio Tour hope to continue their mandate for many years to come.