Arts Center expands outreach to meet growing community demand

Published 10:45 am Sunday, October 9, 2016


Community Arts Center

Maggie Shapiro Haskett, Education Director at the Community Arts Center, hates to say no. “I get a lot of requests for the Arts Center to bring arts programming to community groups and I always want the answer to be yes!” she explains.

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Thanks to a grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Maggie was able to say YES to two requests to expand the Arts Center’s popular after-school art program this year.

Last year, the Arts Center visited the Admirals Academy (Danville Independent Schools) and Burgin Academy (Burgin Independent Schools) twice a month, facilitating hands-on art programming for nearly 120 students.

This year, students at those schools can look forward to weekly visits from the Arts Center.

Sherry Bourne, who directs the Admirals Academy program, says the extra exposure to the arts benefits her students. “Making art is so good for them. It gives them a creative outlet. And Maggie is wonderful. You can tell that this is her passion and she really conveys it to the kids. She fosters a love of art in them. They trust her and they’ll try things with her that they wouldn’t for me!”

This year, Maggie and a team of Centre College student helpers are working their way through the alphabet with an “Arts A to Z” curriculum. Students have explored Andy Warhol, the Bauhaus design movement, collage art, and drawing.

The “E is for Exhibits” lesson at Admirals Academy was particularly well-received because it included a field trip to the Arts Center to see the Horizon: Contemporary Landscape exhibit. The students learned about how to curate a multi-artist show and then they created their own aerial landscape art inspired by several pieces from the exhibit. “I was really impressed by how interested they were in exhibit curation,” says Creative Director Brandon Long. “We spent a lot of time talking about why some pieces of art look good hanging side-by-side, which really challenged them to think critically about the art they were seeing.”

For some students, the Arts Center after-school program is their first contact with the Arts Center. When Maggie surveyed the students at Burgin Academy last year, she discovered that over half of them had never visited the Arts Center. She also learned that some students had very limited access to art outside of school. “I think that it can be easy to take for granted that kids have opportunities to make art at home, but that isn’t always the case,” says Maggie. She remembers talking with a student who hadn’t quite finished a collage project during the allotted time after school. She encouraged him to finish the project at home, and was shocked to hear that he didn’t have any scissors. “I pressed him a little bit – ‘you really don’t have ANY scissors in the house that you could use’? – but it was true. That moment was a real eye-opener for me, and an affirmation that this programming is critically important.”

For other students, the Arts Center outreach program is the spark that ignites additional involvement in the arts. After seeing how much her daughter enjoyed the Admirals Academy arts program last year, Cathy Stringfield-Harper signed Paxton up for four weeks of full-day art camp at the Arts Center this summer. “Paxton has always had an interest in drawing and sketching,” says Cathy. “It’s been completely gratifying to see her love of it grow as she’s encouraged by the Arts Center’s visits.  She’s learned and retained so much from it and it’s nice for her to be encouraged and have an outlet for it.”

As much as she is enjoying the increased arts programming this fall, Maggie already has an eye on the spring semester. “Our grant funding runs out at the end of 2016. We’re anxious to identify additional resources to allow us to continue going to the schools every week. I hear again and again from students, parents, and teachers just how much the program means to them and I want to keep saying yes!”

The Arts Center currently operates five regular arts outreach programs: two weekly after-school programs, a monthly art club at Bate Middle School, a weekly program at Pioneer Vocational Services, and a bi-weekly program in partnership with Woodlawn Elementary School and McDowell Place.


Horizon: Contemporary Landscape and Limited Palette: Featuring Gathering Artists

Through Nov. 11; hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; suggested donation $5


Starry Night Studios: Northern Lights — 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, $25; Hummingbird – 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct.13 at Boyle County Extension Office, $25; Owl Be Watching — 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, $30 

Mini Masters — 4-5 p.m. Mondays, Oct. 24-Dec. 12; $80 

Kids Drawing — 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 25-Dec. 13; $80 

Kids Pottery — 9-10:30 a.m. Saturdays, Oct. 29-Dec. 17; $125 

Election Day Art Camp — 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8; $50 

To learn more about classes offered or to register, visit