Art Center of the Bluegrass looks back at 2020

By Niki Kincade
Art Center of the Bluegrass

This has been a wild year. It has been overwhelming and terrifying – and inspiring. As we bid farewell to 2020, I wanted to take a quick moment to look back on this crazy year, and to say thank you for your continued support.

May this new year bring you beauty and connection and art.

• JANUARY – feels so long ago. We were hosting a training for our new art program for adults with dementia and enjoying a wonderful weekend of artful companionship at the Art Center’s first-ever quilt retreat.
• FEBRUARY – found the Art Center bursting at the seams as community members packed in for special events like the Tiny Art Show and the DanCon Boardgaming Festival.
• MARCH – was scary. Everything came crashing to a halt as the schools closed, businesses closed, and we had to shutter the building. We were forced to lay off two of our five valued staff members and the future looked uncertain. But in the midst of the fear, we recognized that our mission was more important than ever. And we got to work. We started producing digital content, uploaded our first virtual exhibit, and hosted community-building events via social media.
• In APRIL – we found our stride. And our community responded. Donations poured in and hundreds of people took advantage of our online and take-home programming. We hosted virtual book clubs and classes and began to adapt to the new normal. Thanks to a PPP loan, we were able to bring our staffing back up to four people, although we made the difficult decision to leave our Program Director position unfilled indefinitely.
• MAY – broke our hearts, with the horrific death of George Floyd. Seeing our community respond with love and compassion and demands for justice inspired us, and planted the first seeds of what would become The Art of Being Black: Conversation and Experience, opening in January.
• JUNE and JULY – brought the re-opening of the building (hooray!) and the fun of summer programming. We had hoped to be back to in-person camps, but instead pivoted to online and take-home programs for the summer. We embraced the possibilities of at-home programming and had a blast with Mermaid Magic, Bug Camp, Wizard Art Camp, Street Art – and more.
• In AUGUST – we tiptoed back into a few in-person classes and it felt good.
• SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER – challenged us to reimagine our important field trip program, adapting it to the realities of virtual schooling. And it worked! Over 700 students enjoyed virtual visits to the En Plein Air exhibit and created their own plein air collages at home. We also hosted a series of conversations among members of Danville’s African American community. Those conversations became the building blocks for the upcoming exhibit.
• NOVEMBER – felt festive as we opened the Holiday Market two weeks earlier than usual. Everyone needed a little holiday cheer and our artists needed an outlet to sell their work. For the first time ever, we were able to offer online shopping for the Holiday Market, helping to expand the reach of the market and keep our shoppers safe.
• DECEMBER – was busy. The 2020 Holiday Market was the most successful ever, thanks to people like YOU who shopped local in a big way. This has been a year of unexpected twists and turns – but also a year of unexpected acts of kindness and beauty. Thank you for being with us on this journey. We are grateful for your support.