Mayer said the center has moved as many resources online as possible in the past couple months to help maintain arts accessibility during a time of social distancing. It currently offers family projects, one-time lessons and longer-term online art classes through its website.
Mayer said the center plans to start making these online classes available via scholarships to some young artists in June.
“The classes give kids a chance to connect with other kids they know and see kids from our after-school program who they haven’t seen in a few months,” said Mayer. “Our kids website has an area where kids can share their pictures, so if they create any artwork they can share it with other kids which is very fun.”
Board member Johanna Foster said a large part of the mission of The ArtsCenter is to provide arts education for all, which she said is even more important in a time when students are essentially being home-schooled.
“For many families, making sure they get just the basics in, like math and reading, can be a challenge, so some of the other activities that we rely on our public schools to expose our students to have taken a backseat during this time,” Foster said. “Arts, music and drama are all very important activities to engage parts of a student’s mind that are different from academics, and are often a great source of confidence.”
Mayer said their adult art school is also popular for the connectivity it provides, with interactive Zoom classes in a variety of subjects that give people a chance to socialize and learn from others as well as learning with the instructor.
“I think a lot of people are looking for a way to not think about social distancing for a few minutes and want to think about life around them that is not impacted by coronavirus and connect to family and with friends,” he said. “This absolutely provides a way of doing that because it creates a common activity, a common language with which to do that.”
Since The ArtsCenter falls under the category of public performance venues, it likely won't be able to reopen for a while, but Fleming Samuels, the center's development director, said she’s grateful for the community support they’ve received while closed.
“I feel like Chapel Hill gets that the arts are necessary,” Samuels said. “The ArtsCenter is only partially funded by government support, so we really are lifted up by our community. Unlike a lot of public arts centers in other large communities which are 100 percent funded by their municipalities, we have to raise funds from our community. This has been something that shows you how much this community cares for us, so we want to be here for them as well.”
If you’d like to find out how to get an ArtKit when they are assembled and distributed, you can email Fleming Samuels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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