JSANO's aim is to promote the arts in Northern Ontario through the provision of arts education programs. Although programs are offered for students of all ages, our priority and emphasis remain on the provision of programs for young students. It is our intention, whenever possible, to expose the students to talented artists outside the region whose influence they would not normally experience.
JSANO is a fully independent non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. Although some courses are offered on a year-round basis, the focus of our activities has always been the summer arts school.
The school was initially organized as the Junior School of the Arts of Northern Ontario. The movement was to organize the school was initiated through the vision of Mrs. Helen Gibbon, of Englehart, who wanted to provide opportunities to young students in Northern Ontario to benefit from educational programs in the arts, something that was lacking in the region.
The first summer school was held at Camp Lorraine on Lake Timiskaming in 1964. Subsequent summer schools were held at Huntington College of Laurentian University in Sudbury before the school moved to its permanent home at the KL campus of Northern College in the 1970s.
In response to public demand, programs for adults were added to the curriculum and the name was changed to JSANO School of the Arts to reflect this change. The JSANO acronym was retained for historical reasons and, more importantly, because the emphasis of the school remains on provision of programs for young students.